So upon arriving into Portland and settling into the ultra-modern Jupiter Hotel, I found my way to the Performing Arts Centre and met former VanArts comrades Galen Fott & Micah Baker for dinner and the opening screening. The Librarian from the Black Lagoon film we worked on together will be showing here on Thursday.
(VanArts Animators Unite! Galen Fott, myself and Micah Baker)
The mayor of Portland kicked off the films, many of which were amazing. Highlights included: The Danish Poet (funny, uplifting and reflective on the mystery of life...good candidate for my own festival program ideas), Black History Toons (SNL hilarity), The Pearce Sisters (from Aardman...everybody's talking about this one! CG models with beautiful drawn textures...creepy but endearing in a weird way), Apnee (beyond description), and Storyville (finally! Someone found a way to make a 1930s cartoon in 3D! If I were a CG animator, that's the kind of film I'd make.)
Afterwards was the opening night party. Right away I ran into Will Vinton, who told me he has been using my book for reference. That's a comment you take to the bank! I'm still recovering from that. Also chatted with Tom Knott, Jerry Beck, Amid Amidi and Ward Jenkins. Jerry gave me some encouraging words about my next book project, so the road is beginning to be paved...
Then was a show-down screening of comedy films vs. abstract films with Bill Plympton and Joanna Priestly. As much as I love a good laugh, I think the selection of abstract films was stronger than the comedy ones. Very good spirited screening overall...if you turn away and just listen to Bill Plympton's voice, you'd think it was Norm McDonald up there. Very funny.
Highlights from Tuesday were meeting up with friends Lindsey & Bill and their little girl Brooke for breakfast. They're doing so well, and we had lots to catch up on and talk about, comparing our 'lives with a little girl' stories and plans for the future. Next year hopefully the whole family can come down with me and Ariel will make a new friend! Then checked out some more competition films and met with a girl named Devon who is interested in VanArts; very interesting conversation as she also has an autistic brother and is interested in exploring how animation can be used to explore their psyche and their world. Then chatted with Galen about animation training for kids and how it was important to re-iterate the importance of drawing and art from an early age, so that they understand the process of animation rather than only the final computerized product. Then as irony reared its pretty head, the following screening of films 'By Kids For Kids' was all built (using the exact same words) around that very philosophy, including some films made by autistic children. That was particularly inspiring, and gave me a vision for another dream.
(Galen & I discuss the future of animation...)
Next I ended up talking with Peter Lord (see photo) and his family, and showed him my book. He seemed very impressed and proceeded to buy a copy from me! That was quite a thrill, to say the very miniscule least!
Then reeling in joy I checked out some of the Modern Design films, stopped into Powells Books and drooled over all of the rare animation books I couldn't afford but managed to buy at least two reasonably priced ones, and the Educators Reception at Ai of Portland, where I met some great people from Laika and other schools, including saying hello to John Canemaker. (I told him there were rare Disney books at Powells and his eyes lit up...later I ran into him on the way back to the festival venue and found out he had bought six of them. Always glad to help.) Then more films and screenings as my eyes grew heavy and deep...had to crash! This is lots of fun, though I miss my girls terribly this morning and hope to have them with me next time.
On to the next adventure...