Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Back on the lecture circuit

Last week I was invited to talk to the animation students at Newport Film School by my old college chum & Resident Cartesian Theologian James Manning.  I hope my random ramblings were of some use to the next generation of UK animators.
Lecturing is a great way to force you to focus on your process & approach.  It helps you clarify your thoughts on why and how one works.  I'm sure if I keep doing it I'll eventually make some kind of sense.
I'll be doing my presentation on Ronald Searle's work in animation & film titles at the Cartoon Museum, London on March 30th.  

Interesting article here on comicbook artists finding work as live-action storyboard artists & directors.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Life Drawing Winter Term 2010

A new term of life drawing has begun and after a couple of months out of the life-class it's back to drawing off the rust. These are the strongest drawings out of 2 weeks of struggling. I enjoy the work-out though . . .

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Films of the year

A little late with this but after due consideration & spurred on by a debate with cineast pals in SanFrancisco last week here's my top 5 of 2009, in ascending order:

Fashion designer Tom Ford impresses with his super stylish & assured directorial debut.  Interesting cinematography (the use of colour draining in & out is effective), period perfect production design & a towering performance from Colin Firth.

Documentary following Slovenian national hero Martin Strel as he swims the Amazon with only a skinful of beer & wine to protect him from the piranhas.  Driven crazy by the sun, polluted waters & ill health this is a testament to will power & the human spirit. A film like those Werner Herzog used to make before he hooked up with Nicolas Cage (this just beats out boxing documentary Facing Ali-an excellent portrait of the opponents Mohammed Ali faced in the ring.

In a strong year for sci-fi movies District 9 showed what you could do on a relatively low budget with imaginative fx while Avatar showed the sky is the limit when the money is no object.  But Moon showed them both that real-life model moon buggies still rule!  Sam Rockwell gives performance of the year-twice!

I was blown away by Let The Right One In early in the year-just when you think the cinematic vampire genre is moribund the most original horror pic in years comes out of Sweden.  The use of shallow focus & compositional framing in this flick is masterful.  I re-watched it recently on dvd & the director's commentary reveals that she is really a he!

And my film of the year is actually two- Mesrine: Killer Instinct/Public Enemy is a dazzling, brutal account of  infamous French outlaw Jacques Mesrine.  This is everything Michael Mann's Public Enemies should have been-dynamic, sexy, shocking and Cassel burns 1000 times brighter than Depp's Dillinger.  Along with Jacques Audiard's Un Prophet the French reclaimed the movie-gangster crown in 2009.

Sunday, February 07, 2010


A couple of weeks ago while driving back from Nice I stopped over in Paris for a special screening of 'A Monster In Paris' -the film I storyboarded on between 2006 and 2008.

Bibo had invited me to attend a work-in-progress screening of the picture with the rest of the crew. Also in attendance was Matthieu 'M' Chédid who has composed the films music & songs and also voices the eponymous monstre. Vanessa Paradis plays the heroine & Danny Huston channels his father's unique timbre as the villain of the piece.
The studio is well into animation and on target for their Easter 2011 release date. Animation supervisor is Fabrice Joubert who was just Oscar nominated for his short French Roast.

The production is now suitably based in the Studio Méliès, built on the site of the original studio of cinema effects pioneer Georges Méliès.
The film is financed by Luc Besson's company Europacorp. Besson himself is finishing up work on his new film 'Les Aventures extraordinaires d'Adèle Blanc-Sec'-an adaptation of Jacques Tardi's comicbooks. It's set in the same period as 'A Monster In Paris' and looks like a live action version of that film.

'A Monster In Paris' is looking great so far-the animation style is really loose & cartoony. The production design by François Moret and his team is outstanding. The film has been made with as much class, skill & style as the French produce clothes, cakes, wine & fine art. Only 14 months more until the monster is unleashed . . .