Category Archives: Festivals

Seven Years in the Making

I turned in Don’t Fear the Sitter a few weeks ago, finishing off the last step toward getting my Master of Fine Arts degree in animation. I was working really hard the last few months to get it done, leaving my fiancée lonely and bored as I worked into the night perfecting all the little details.  We were both very happy when the deadline came, I turned in my finished product, and I could finally relax.

It screened at the UCLA film school’s end-of-year show.  I think it was fairly well-received, but some people had a different reaction to part of it than I had expected.  I’m not going to say what exactly, because I don’t really want to give out spoilers.

Actually, though, it’s not quite done.  There are still a few more details that I want to work out as a final polishing step.  There are some things that I’d like to do but I might decide not to, as well.  At some point you just have to call it done.

I’m aiming to get this thing into festivals, though.  I want to make it really good.  That’s been my goal pretty much since I graduated the film from being my second-year film to being my thesis.  I wanted to make something that would make people at festivals take notice.  Something, dare I dream, that would get me into Annecy (the most important festival in the animation world).  If I really stick to that goal then there are a number of things left to do – the biggest being set dressing.

I’ve always been pretty bad at making a background look lived in.  At the moment the house in which the story takes place looks kinda sparse – like a model home that no one actually lives in.

I want to get it done so I can move on to the next project, whatever that may be.  I have a big list of possibilities.  I have time now to do all those things I wanted to do over the last seven years but never did because my film was hanging over me.  For the time being, it probably won’t be animation, though I reserve the right to do something animation-related: a web comic, develop a TV pitch, write a script or storyboard, etc.

Just some thoughts.

Hooray for Re-Use!

I just burned through about five character-seconds of animation in about five days.  That feels really good.  It’s significantly faster than my general rate that I’ve been keeping up ever since I resumed keeping track in April.  When I finish a scene I get to mark it off in the spreadsheet I created for the task, which always feels great.  It’s all set up with color-changing fields that give me pleasant feedback when I finish a scene.  They say, “Hey David, you’re doing a great job!  Look how much you’ve done in the last five days!”

Part of what let me get through these two scenes so quickly was that I was able to re-use some stuff.  For the first scene the framing was very similar to an earlier one, so setup was fast (pretty much just copy the previous scene’s file and the new scene is set up).  For the second it was even better.  I was able to use a side-view walk cycle that I created a long time ago for another scene, with only slight modifications.

One of the great advantages of Flash animation is the ability to adapt old animation for new scenes.  That’s a major reason why it’s a good medium for television animation.  When I worked on Foster’s we tried our hardest to find reuse for as many scenes as we could.  We had libraries of walk cycles, character poses, hands, arms, legs, and endless gobs of uncategorized old scenes that the animation director was able to help us find if we needed them.  The thing that’s great about it is that it’s not carved in stone.  It’s pretty easy to make little tweaks to old animation in Flash.  Need that old walk cycle but with the head looking to the side?  No problem.  Different lip sync?  Easy.

Unfortunately reuse hasn’t been as helpful on Don’t Fear the Sitter, since it’s just this one episode.  If I could stretch it out into a series that would be great, since I wouldn’t have to build the character models again, and I would have a bunch of reusable animation from the first one.  I may some day try and figure out a way to adapt it into a series, particularly if the short ends up doing well on the festival circuit.  If it comes to that, I’ll definitely be glad I made this thing in Flash.


The verdict is that I didn’t need to worry about the binoculars. If you want proof, look at this. Pretty cool, huh? Oh, and just to be clear, the girl with the binoculars is Sarah and the voice you hear is her mom, off-screen.

So the total time to animate that scene was about two weeks, I think. It’s a little frustrating that it takes so long. I mean, it looks good, but two weeks for two seconds? That’ll have me finishing this film in like six years! So yeah, my process needs to speed up a bit.

Here’s a cool bit of news: I’ve been invited to submit Fried Ham to the New York International Childrens Film Festival. Apparently the word is getting out 🙂 It’s not a guaranteed acceptance, but at least they’ll waive the application fee. Now I just need to get around to actually submitting the thing.

Fried Ham playing in New York

Fried Ham is going to be shown on the opening night of the Animation Block Party Summerfest on July 22nd at Automotive High School in Brooklyn, New York.  You can find out more about the show here:

An Animated Camp Experience

So I got back from Balkan camp last night. It was a crazy insane week that had almost nothing to do with animation, so I’m not going to talk about it much here.There were a few relevant moments, though….

I brought a bunch of copies of my best-of DVD to camp with me and gave them out to people who were significant positive influences on my camp experience. That is, I gave them to my friends (both old and new). Everyone was really excited to see my animation, and that felt really good. It’s great to see people be genuinely excited about stuff that I created.

The other relevant event is that every year at camp there’s an auction that benefits the organization that produces the camp. This year I donated one of my DVDs after one of my friends (who also happens to be the camp’s site coordinator) suggested it. The auction usually doesn’t interest me much because everything goes for way more than it’s worth, so I’m never interested enough to buy anything. This year, though, I went in order to see how my DVD did. When it went on the block I must have been talking to the guy sitting next to me because I didn’t notice the bids at first. When I realized what was happening it was already up to $30. That was pretty cool — I would have been happy enough with that price, but then it kept going up. It eventually sold for $50 to a couple I don’t even know (though one of them told me later that they met me last year or something like that). Anyway, that’s another little taste of yummy affirmation for my 2006 camp experience….

SouthSide Film festival

Both Fried Ham and I Must Destroy You were accepted into the SouthSide Film Festival in Bethlehem, Pensylvania.  The festival is from June 15th to 18th.  I don’t know if I know anyone over in that area but I thought I’d let y’all know just in case.

Fried Nova Scotia Ham

Another happy announcement: Fried Ham has been selected for the ViewFinders International Film Festival for Youth in Nova Scotia.  It’s going to be shown in the “Quest For Adventure” category (not sure why, but there it is).  I now officially have an international audience 🙂

Screening date/time for SFVIFF

The screening for all the animation in the San Fernando Valley International Film Festival will be Saturday, March 25, 2006 at 2 PM in North Hollywood.  I want to invite everyone who’s in the area to join me at the show.  Admission is free, so the only issue is finding the time and getting there.  I’d love to have lunch beforehand with anyone who can make it.  Drop me a line if that interests you.

Unfortunately I can’t invite anyone to the awards dinner.  They only give me one ticket (for myself) and extra tickets cost $100 🙁  Well, I’ll just have to buff up on my schmoozing skills.  On the other hand, if for some reason you felt like dropping $100 in order to join me, I wouldn’t stop you (though I might look at you funny).

Yay Me Again!

The latest news is that I Must Destroy You has been nominated for the animation award at the San Fernando Valley International Film Festival.  Yay me again!

Faux Film Festival

The Faux Film Festival has just posted its list of films that’ll be shown at this year’s event.  It looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun.  Unfortunately I don’t think I can make it up there, but I want to encourage all my Portland-area friends to go to the festival if they can.  I believe they’ll be putting up a schedule eventually, so you can aim for the night they show my film if you want.