18 November 2008


Recently I discovered Submarine Channel, a site that regularly trawls the internet for the freshest talent and quirkiest sites the world has offer, as well as showcasing their many cross-media projects. We were flattered to discover that they had included us in their Top 10 curated online video portals, where you can add your opinion on who you think should be in the Top 10. And they ran a short news feature on our AnimateTV commission Damaged Goods.

Recent works they've picked up on their radar: microblogging community Seesmic, the archival delights of Europa Film Treasures and the latest Toshiba Timesculpture advert. Also, it transpires that they are behind the wonderful site Forget the Film, Watch the Titles, which showcases the often under appreciated craft of film title design. Plus, they've got not one, but two interview sections: text based interviews including Second Life filmmaker Douglas Gayeton, film title designer Karin Fong and (one of my favourite animators) Motomichi Nakamura; and video interviews featuring creative folks such as Special FX masters DDT and human sculpture enthusiast Erwin Wurm. And they've even got a shop.

SubmarineChannel - subscribe and let them do the scoping for you.

17 November 2008

Thomas Hicks

Thomas Hicks has just started to keep a blog about the production of his new AnimateTV 2009 commission Unicycle Film, including shots of the work in progress. The film is due to be completed in summer 2009.

In the meantime, Thomas Hicks has a solo exhibition at the Michael West Gallery, Quay Arts, Isle of Wight, opening on 22 November entitled Dark City, Lonely Circus. The exhibition focuses on Thomas' working process and includes pre-production drawings for the Unicycle Film project, as well as handmade zoetropes, animation frames, sketchbooks, and a recreation of Hicks' own printing desk. The exhibition runs until 10 January.

You can also check out Thomas' previous work here on Vimeo.

Image: Unicycle Film, Thomas Hicks (production still)

13 November 2008

Aurora! Aurora! Aurora!

The festival's already underway..but we'll be there soon ourselves!  AnimateTV live launch is Friday evening. And there's much much more. We are very excited and wish Adam and Kelly all the best.

Drawn to Life programme...in Brussels...

Drawn to Life is a couple of terrific programmes screening in Brussels at the end of November that are right up our street, though not literally. Featuring Animate commissioned artists Stuart Hilton and Jonathan Hodgson..though not their actual Animate films. And lots of other key things too - it's a rare juxtaposition of artists coming from different places - just the kind of eclectic and provocative mix we like. The programme notes and links are well worth bothering with - on curator Stoffel Debuysere's blog, which is well worth exploring . 

Image: The Simpson Verdict, Kota Ezawa

12 November 2008

Call for papers: Archives and Auteurs conference

The University of Stirling is looking for proposals for their 'Archives and Auteurs: Filmmakers and their archives' conference taking place on 2–4 September 2009. The conference will bring archivists, academics, curators and researchers together to discuss the ways in which study of the archives of filmmakers and the film industry can provide new perspectives and insights into the history of cinema.

They are looking for proposals in the following areas:
- archives, authorship and the directorial impulse
- the transition from page to screen – evidence in the archives for artistic challenges and compromised visions
- new perspectives on classic films
- practical issues relating to the management and preservation of the archives of filmmakers
- personal experiences of working with the archives of filmmakers
- current issues, projects and initiatives in the field of cinema history

Papers should be 20 minutes in length.
Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be sent in a MS Word file to Professor John Izod (k.j.izod@stir.ac.uk) by Friday 20 February 2009.
Abstracts will be reviewed externally and contributors will be informed of the outcome by Friday 13th March 2009.

See the University of Stirling website for more details.

Vertigo magazine - new issue out now...

..and it includes a review of the British Animation Awards dvd Desire and Sexuality - Animating the Unconscious (perhaps a title that doesn't sit easy on a christmas present list), and a beautiful spread of some stunning images from Emily Richardson's Cobra Mist.

As ever it is also packed with vital stuff - check out the contents. Then buy it and read it.

11 November 2008

Glover - Jo Lawrence, animator in residence at the V&A

I am keeping tabs on Jo Lawrence's blog - she's animator-in-residence at the Victoria and Albert Museum. That in itself seems like a very enlightened but risky notion, but from Jo's blog, it is clearly paying off hugely. She's obsessed. And she's making a film. And it's about gloves. She is discovering lots of fascinating stuff in the museum, and saying very interesting things about it all. I'm excited and a little scared about seeing the film she comes up with. 

You can see Jo's film Glow on 4mations here.  

Still: Glow, Jo Lawrence

7 November 2008

InterventTech: >> news and threads: Ekow Eshun closes Live & Media Arts at the ICA

InterventTech: >> news and threads: Ekow Eshun closes Live & Media Arts at the ICA

The debate continues...

British animation: The Channel 4 factor

Clare Kitson commissioned animation for Channel 4 from 1989 to 1999, and her book is a personal and authoritative review of the period, bracketed with a bit of the before, and observations about the current state of play.

But the book is no wallow in a subjective history. Clare is scrupulous and questioning about all that kind of stuff. Her charting of the early days of Channel 4 is informative and evocative of the ambition and freedom of those times. And her perspective on how things have gone since her departure is considered, and where critical, recognises context and realities. 

But what's really great is what takes up most of the book - in depth, well illustrated essays on 30 key works - jam packed with facts and reflections - and providing unique insight into the processes of making animated films.  And if only one of these is an Animate film, then I'm consoled that 11 of them are made by people commissioned by Animate to make other films. 

The book is an invaluable, important, essential contribution. It gives a terrific sense - both in broadcasting and individual productions - of how things work.

From my own time at the Arts Council - I started working there as the first Animate films were being delivered - one of the things I remember about Clare is her generosity and risk-taking in accepting/trusting the opinion of others - at least in areas where she felt she lacked particular experience or expertise. So I'm sure she'll allow a couple of record straightening comments. 

I didn't simply 'migrate' from the Arts Council to set up Animate Projects - they'd made me redundant six months beforehand, and Jacqui and I spent a very uncomfortable couple of months where we cash-flowed things with our own money, looking after projects in production, and launching a new round in good faith, on the words, and promise of contracts, of the Arts Council and Channel 4.

I think Clare overstates Animate's relationship with LUX - they have distribution copies of the films, but the shift to an emphatically 'art' agenda for the broader Animate 'project' was something that Dick Arnall and the Animate freelancers forged ahead with, following an Arts Council review.  

And I can't agree that "British art animation in a fragile state". Funding certainly is, and as a result, the tradition of 'arthouse', independent animation is in a period of drought...but animation is a vital and flourishing aspect of current visual arts practice. And terms like 'fringe' and 'marginal' really depend on where you're viewing things from - Animate films have won Baftas and BAAs - and are shown internationally - and not just in 'cutting-edge' categories. But these tele-centric viewpoint lapses (ahem...) are minor and rare, and it feels a bit impertinent to even mention them. Animate's relationship with C4 - with, and since, Clare - has been one of utmost, reciprocal, respect. If only power and money were always in the hands of the ones who love you.

6 November 2008

AnimateTV - screening across the UK

Our latest batch of extraordinary films are screening at Aurora, Encounters, FACT and Tate Modern this autumn.

Catch the latest films by artists Barnaby Barford, Suky Best, Stephen Irwin, Michael Aubtin Madadi, Emily Richardson, Tal Rosner and Christoph Steger on the big screen. Plus, you'll get the chance to quiz the artists about their inspirations, processes, favourite colours etc.

Employing a broad range of techniques from rotoscope to timelapse and exploring a variety of themes, including the decline of the dawn chorus and the ambitions of an outsider artist, together they represent the freshest artistic talent from the UK.

The AnimateTV films premiere at Aurora Festival in Norwich, on Friday 14 November, 6pm, with all the artists present for a Q&A with festival director Adam Pugh.

Then catch the films at:

Encounters Festival, Arnolfini Cinema, Bristol, Saturday 22 November, 5.30pm, with a Q&A led by Arnolfini curator Nav Haq,

FACT, Liverpool, Wednesday 26 November, 6.30pm, Q&A with Kate Taylor (from FACT's AND festival and the London Short Film Festival),

Tate Modern, London, Friday 5 December, 7pm, plus Q&A with all the artists.

To book tickets for these screenings, please visit the venues' websites.

Hope to see you there!

Image: Damaged Goods, Barnaby Barford