Friday, February 26, 2016

Ford - "The Importance of Paying Attention"

I've been buddies with J.J. Sedelmaier for a long time, he's been one of the stars of NYC animation for years.  Also, parenthetically, his father is the famous Joe Sedelmaier, who did some of the funniest and most famous commercials of the last 50 years.  (Remember those FedEx commercials with the guy who talked really fast?  And who can forget Wendy's "Where's the Beef" campaign?)

J.J. called me a few months ago to do a short spot for Ford Motor Company, it's a campaign to promote safe driving, how there should be no distractions while you drive.  In other words, our mission was to create the most wacky, far-fetched examples of drivers losing their concentration when behind the wheel.

The other two artists involved were Al Jaffee, the famous MAD magazine cartoonist, and the great M.K. Brown.  I've been a fan of M.K.'s cartoons since the old National Lampoon days, and she was also married to one of the great cartoonists of all time, B. Kliban.

My story was about a woman who, after discovering a mark on her teeth, proceeds to pull a dentist's drill out of her glove compartment and performs a delicate oral surgery operation on her teeth while she's driving at 80 mph.  You know, of course, that it's going to end badly - and it does.

However, even though they asked us to go crazy with our imagination, they forbid me to use a scream as her teeth fly out of her mouth when she hits a pothole - so I had to change the sound to something like "Ouch" or "Oh, dear!"  It doesn't have the same impact as a woman screaming - it's just not as funny, but I gess they were afraid of dentists calling in to complain about the gratuitous violence.

In any case, the three spots are very funny.  Please check them out on line here:

Friday, February 19, 2016

Trip to L.A. and Santa Barbara

A couple of events were set to occur in L.A. and they seemed to coincide, so I decided to make the trip out to the West Coast and also catch up with some friends.  My office manager straightened out my frequent flyer accounts and came up with a bunch of miles, so he got me a free plane fare there and back. 

One event was the screening of "The Loneliest Stoplight" at the Santa Barbara Film Festival.  I've heard great things about this festival over the years - since it's essentially the last big festival before the Oscars, and close to L.A., a lot of Hollywood celebrities appear there to promote their projects.

They put me up in the luxurious Fess Parker hotel on the beach - I thought I'd take a nice swim in the ocean, just across the street from my hotel and as I was basking in the 90-degree sun, feeling the good California paradise vibe, for some reason a lunatic on a bike started swearing at me, then threatened me.  Whoa!  That was weird - did this guy follow me from NYC?  He seemed so out of place in such a mellow environment.  I had to run back to my room to escape from this psycho!

Tuesday night (Feb. 9) was the first screening of my film in the shorts program.  There was a packed audience, but what I hadn't realized was that Santa Barbara is basically a retirement village, like Palm Springs.  So my audience consisted mostly of older folks, definitely not my kind of crowd.  But since my newest short is probably the most innocent of all my movies, it got a good reaction. 

Earlier that afternoon, I had met with the "Simpsons" creative crew at Sony Studios to do a sound edit on my latest couch gag for the long-running animated series.  Of course, they were very professional and had the job done in one hour, leaving me plenty of time to drive to Santa Barbara.  I love that.

                                       Showing Jim Lujan the new "couch gag" for a certain
                                           FOX animated series.  OK, it's "The Simpsons". 

The new gag is about some hanky-panky between a couch and the TV - you can see it on FOX possibly as early as March 6 - so check it out! 

It was a bit of a weird trip, because I started in L.A. and then drove up to Santa Barbara, then back to L.A.  And the festival only covered one night of hotel, so I stayed in four different hotel rooms in four days, my office manager nearly went crazy setting all that up. 

                                            With Rick Farmiloe and Christi Haydon in L.A.

When I got back to L.A. I hung out with my buddies Rick Farmiloe, PES, Sarah Phelps, Biljana Labovic (my old producer) and then I had a session with the great Jim Lujan to go through a very rough cut of "Revengeance".  We're now in a fun part of the process - sound, music, voices, coloring and animation are all coming together, and we're starting to get a sense of how the film is going to look.  It's so exciting - and soon you'll be able to check it out.

                                           With Jim Lujan and Ken Mora in old-school B&W

                                                  With PES on the beach in Santa Monica

                                                   With Biljana Labovic and Sarah Phelps

--Bill Plympton

Monday, February 8, 2016

VOID - International Animation Festival, Copenhagen

About a year and a half ago, I was contacted by the Cinemateket (Film Institute) in Copenhagen about doing a retrospective in 35mm of my best features and shorts.  But at the time, I was in the middle of donating all of my 35mm prints to the Eastman House in Rochester, NY to set up an archive there.  So the timing just wasn't right.

About four months ago, the retrospective seemed back on, but the Cinemateket had trouble getting the 35mm prints from the Eastman House.  The Academy in L.A. has all of my negatives now, and ultimately we'll be making new digital copies from restored negatives, but it's sort of a slow process. 
We've got digital copies of my newer features like "Cheatin'", but not the older ones. 

So the major problem for the Cinemateket was locating good quality 35mm film prints.  The Academy had created a new 35mm print from the restored negative of my film "The Tune", but that's just one of my older animated features. 

So, my office manager recommended that they contact E.D. Distribution, my French distributor, and they came to the rescue with their collection of 35mm prints of my movies.  Vive la France!

I've been to Copenhagen before, about 15 years ago when I did a master class at the Viborg Film and Animation School - so it was nice to return.  The Cinemateket is very modern and expertly run - plus I had good crowds for all of my films.

                                          Giving a master class at the Danish Film Institute

But the really terrific thing about my screenings was that they were part of a larger festival called VOID, which was a weeklong screening of animation for adults.  What a great idea, why can't someone in the U.S. do something like that?  They had sold-out audiences - so it's clearly what the public wants.

I hope, with the success of festivals like VOID, that other cities will being showing animation that's not just for kids.  So, if you have an animated film that's for adults, please send it to VOID.  I give VOID an A+ !

--Bill Plympton

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Robert Valley's new film

I've been a fan of Robert Valley ever since I saw his stuff at the San Diego Comic-Con 10 years ago.  Since then, I've met the man himself, and he's a super nice guy.

I just found out he has a Kickstarter campaign for his new short film, "Pear Cider and Cigarettes", and the artwork is friggin' amazing. 

Nobody draws women as sexy as he does - and his art style is beyond brilliant.  I'm going to donate to his campaign, and I encourage you to do the same.  This guy is a genius!  Please check out his work.

You can find the campaign at:

--Bill Plympton