Friday, April 15, 2011

Animated Shorts

Each year, I have to see the animated shorts at the Florida Film Festival. This year Bill Plimpton had a display of artwork from around the world used in his Global Jam. He invited artists to each tackle a scene in their own style from his Academy Award winning film Guard Dog. The invitation went out via the Internet. Bill waited an hour, no response. He waited another hour with no response. He went home depressed. The next day he was told that too many artists responded causing the server to go down. The resulting film was hilarious being even quirkier with all the different looks. Bill said the film cost him $20 to produce with animators around the world volunteering their time.

Anyway, the Animated Shorts screening was sold out. The line stretched back as far as I could see. There was a chance I might not get in, but house manager, Brian Feldman, stepped in and made sure I got a ticket. I found a seat in the very first row. Brian joked and said I should sit on the stage and sketch the audience. I was tempted but really wanted to see some animation. I leaned back and let the screen filled up every inch of my glasses. Tales of Mere Existence by Lev Yilmaz is always in the lineup and is always funny. This year he talked aimlessly about how he had imagined relationships with women in the Ukraine via Facebook. There were a few artsy shorts with no apparent story. I always get annoyed at these aimless films.

My favorite film of the night was "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore". Though it could use a shorter title, the film is magical. It basically stresses how books offer refuge bringing color and life into people's lives. The main character was modeled after Buster Keaton. One of the co-directors daughter died, and his wife became paralyzed during production of the film. Moonbot the new studio that made the film is located in Louisiana, so when Hurricane Katrina hit, it ended up becoming a major part of the story. There is something very sad about seeing peoples books in among the rubble of destruction. Several of the story and visual development artists were originally from Orlando but unfortunately I didn't know them. They asked if anyone in the audience worked at Disney Feature Animation. I started to raise my hand but stopped halfway up thinking "well, not anymore." Seeing no hands he said, "Damn Michael Eisner."

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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