Review of Irish Film @ Galway Film Fleadh • New Irish Shorts: Animation

Deirdre de Grae found a lot to love in the animated shorts programme at the 29th Galway Film Fleadh.

 

The animated shorts programme is always a personal festival highlight of the Galway Film Fleadh, for me. It’s the ideal Sunday morning cure following a hectic week of film screenings and post-film partying – nerves are calmed and eyes are soothed during this perfectly-timetabled programme of Irish short animations. As usual, there was a large audience attendance, including cast and crew.

The competition for entry into the programme is typically tough, resulting in an excellent showcase of Irish animation. This year’s hopeful entrants were up against some well-funded and seasoned filmmakers, so to be selected for this programme is a prize in itself. Not as many student films were included as in previous years, and I missed their creativity and energy. The films curated included animated shorts from a current student and new graduate, as well as established industry professionals. Further animations were screened as part of the Irish Film Board’s showcase on Saturday 15th July 2017, and are reviewed as part of that programme.

The stand-out animated shorts from this programme are An Béal Bocht/The Poor Mouth (winner of Best First Short Animation and The Don Quijote Award for Best Animated Short Film), directed by Tom Collins, and ‘Sorry I Drowned‘, directed by David Habchy and Hussein Nakhal.

An Béal Bocht / The Poor Mouth (dir. Tom Collins), is an adaptation of the novel by Flann O’Brien (A.K.A. Myles na gCopaleen/Brian O’ Nolan), of whom I am a huge fan. The absurdist, satirical comedy is realised incredibly well by the director, Tom Collins, and talented principal animator, John McCloskey. As with any favourite book adaptation, I was nervous to see if it matched my imagined world. However, I had no need for fear, and was delighted to see some hilarious elements retained, such as the never-ending rain, which sometimes seems an accurate portrayal of life in the west of Ireland. And I am happy to report that the pig fart jokes went down very well with the kids in the audience. The casting is particularly on-point, and I can imagine there was some fun in the sound recording booth with, for example, Bob Quinn as ‘The President’, Tommy Tiernan as ‘Ó Bánasa’, and Mícheál Ó Meallaigh as ‘the Drunken Pig’. The animated film was realised using the original Irish version of the novel and cleverly used Flann O’Brien’s own English translations for the subtitles, thus retaining the original wit.

The animation was a co-production of Raw Nerve Productions (Pearse Moore) and De Facto Films, and was animated at the Nerve Centre in Derry. It was funded by Northern Irish Screen (Irish Language Broadcast Fund), TG4 and the BAI.  The cast includes: Owen McDonnell ,Tommy Tiernan, Donncha Crowley, Bob Quinn, Seán Mistéal and Mícheál Ó Meallaigh.

Sorry I Drowned

Sorry I Drowned‘ (dir. David Habchy and Hussein Nakhal) is a monochrome animation, using Arabic voice recordings, inspired by a letter purportedly found on a drowned person fleeing war. The animation was commissioned by Medicins Sans Frontiers and produced by Studio Kawakeb, Lebanon.

The style and content are reminiscent of both Persepolis (black and white / female voice) and Waltz with Bashir (video footage / war themes). Visuals of pixellated, 1980’s computer-graphics delivered in stark monochrome, serve as the foreground to the Arabic words, spoken by a woman. Ideally, the eyes and mind could rest on the images while the words are spoken, but due to my lack of Arabic, I had to rely on the (too-small) subtitles, which distracted from the fast-moving visual images. It is a fantastic, moving animation, but was screened out of competition as it is not an Irish production.

Blackout

Dylan Nevin’s Blackout was the only student animation shown, and the team deserve kudos for that. This is a dystopian, futuristic, short animation from the perspective of an art student, who rebels. Dylan Nevin is studying animation with the Ballyfermot College of Further Education (BCFE). His work can be seen at www.bcfe.ie

The Line

Dillon Brannick, A recent graduate of Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT),  directed ‘The Line’, which explores the dynamics between parent and child, during mourning. In his animation, the baby and father switch places, with the large adult-sized baby taking care of the tiny father.  The result is a gentle portrait of loss and grief. Dillon’s work can be seen at dillonbrannick.com

Wooden Child

Wooden Child, directed by Joe Loftus, is a disturbing examination of death, to a Country and Western soundtrack. Joe works as an animator at Boulder Media and is a graduate of the IADT animation degree programme. His work can be seen at  vimeo.com/joeloftus

 

Animated short films screened in this programme:

Wooden Child (dir. Joe Loftus), Coranna (dir. Steve Woods), The Line (dir. Dillon Brannick), Dreaming of Sleep (dir. Leon Butler), Blackout (dir. Dylan Nevin), Sorry I Drowned (dir. David Habchy & Hussein Nakhal), Cyber (dir. Diarmuid Hayes & Sarah Whicker), Tete a Tete (dir. Natasha Tonkin), An Béal Bocht/The Poor Mouth (dir. Tom Collins).

 

 

New Irish Shorts: Animation were screened on Sunday 16th July 2017, as part of the 29th Galway Film Fleadh (11–16 July 2017).

 

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Trailer: Animation, Inc. Ireland’s Creative Industry

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The trailer for Animation, Inc. Ireland’s Creative Industry has been released.

 

Animation, Inc. Ireland’s Creative Industry is a feature length documentary about the Irish Animation Industry and the extraordinary influence Irish Animators have had worldwide.

 

An unprecedented look into the past, present and future of the Irish Animation Industry, covering the Education, Business and Creativity of a fascinating art form, this in-depth and accessible documentary will not only interest fans of Animation and Art but will also provide people who know little or nothing about the incredible story behind Animation in Ireland, with the perfect gateway into that world.

 

The documentary is being produced by Dublin based production house,

Bruin Motion Pictures and features legendary former Disney animators, Don Bluth and Gary Goldman (An American Tail, Land Before Time), Seamus Malone, Aardman Animation (Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep), DreamWorks Animations’ Dean DeBlois (How to Train Your Dragon, Lilo & Stitch), Irish Studios Cartoon Saloon (Song of the Sea, Secret of Kells), Brown Bag Films (Doc McStuffins) Giant Animation, Barley Films, and many more.

 

Animation, Inc. contains original studio tours, rare and never-seen-before archive footage, exterior footage from inspiring worldwide/Irish landscapes and exclusive discussions with Academy Award winning studios and animators.

The production has already shot on location in Bristol, UK. Stuttgart, Germany. New York & Arizona, USA and across the majority of counties within the Republic of Ireland, with more to come before the end of production, giving an idea of the global scope of the influence from Animation in Ireland.

With the increible current success of Animation in Ireland and with the hidden history

 

Keep up to date on the production at bruinpictures.com or at

https://www.facebook.com/Animation-Inc-1609996169252609/,

https://www.facebook.com/bruinmotionpictures/.

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‘Animation, Inc. Ireland’s Creative Industry’ Doc in Production

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Animation, Inc. Ireland’s Creative Industry is a feature-length documentary about the Irish animation industry and the influence Irish animators have had worldwide.

The film offers a look into the past, present and future of the Irish Animation Industry, covering the education, business and creativity of a fascinating art form.

The documentary is being produced by Dublin-based production house Bruin Motion Pictures and features former Disney animators, Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, Seamus Malone, Aardman Animation, DreamWorks Animations’ Dean DeBlois, Irish Studios Cartoon Saloon, Brown Bag Films, Giant Animation, Barley Films, and many more.

Animation, Inc. contains original studio tours, rare and never-seen-before archive footage, exterior footage from worldwide/Irish landscapes and exclusive discussions with Academy Award winning studios and animators.

The production has already shot on location in Bristol, UK. Stuttgart, Germany. New York & Arizona, USA and across the majority of counties within the Republic of Ireland, with more to come before the end of production.

 

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The New Dawn of Irish Animation

Family

 The Amazing World of Gumball

David Neary talks to the movers and shakers making it happen in animation.

It’s been 18 years since Sullivan Bluth Studios closed their doors. One-time Disney prodigy Don Bluth had gone rogue in 1979 and founded his own company, which set up shop in Ireland in 1985, providing Irish animators with an outlet and distributor for their talents. Bluth helped launch an animation course at Ballyfermot College ensuring a new generation of skilled Irish animators would now emerge.

And then the end came.

The apprentices of Bluth went their separate ways, founding a number of smaller animation studios in a shrivelled market. It seemed for a time like the golden age of Irish animation was long gone. But now it appears it has only just begun.

Casual observers of the Irish film industry were no doubt surprised in 2009 when The Secret of Kells, by the Kilkenny-based Cartoon Saloon, emerged from the woodwork. An Academy Award® nomination for best animated feature proved Irish animation could now play with the big boys.

Since then the rebirth of Irish animation has been unmistakable, with accolades pouring in from abroad. Brown Bag Film’s short Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty accompanied Kells to the Oscars®. BAFTAs have been dealt out to JAM Media’s Roy and Boulder Media’s The Amazing World of Gumball (the latter also won an Annie Award). Doc McStuffins, a preschool show animated at Brown Bag, recently launched on the Disney Junior UK channel to record ratings. Elsewhere, Irish producer Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly joined the Oscar-nominated® elite this year thanks to her work on the short Head Over Heels.

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Doc McStuffins

So what’s driving this renaissance in Irish animation? Good old determination and hard work, of course, and that grand tradition of Irish storytelling. But amongst industry professionals there’s wide acceptance that Adobe Flash was the game-changer.

Gerard O’Rourke founded Monster Animation in 1995 in the wake of Bluth going bust. Flash, he explains, was originally used for creating banner ads for websites, but its potential for quickly designing high-quality animation was soon seized upon by the animation industry at large.

‘Flash turned it all around,’ he says. Recalling his days at Sullivan Bluth, he explains that in the traditional cell animation business, an animator’s work had to go through 27 departments, be shot in the camera bay, shipped to Technicolor in London, processed in 35mm, brought back and loaded onto a projector before the animator could see the fruits of his labours. This process took 10 to 12 days. ‘Now,’ he says, ‘an animator on a daily basis can sit there and start with a blank screen and at the end of the day have movie files of what they animated that day.’

The reduction in costs is colossal, and better still has managed to keep those animation jobs in Ireland. ‘Without that digital revolution, a lot of the work would have remained in the Far East, but we’ve managed to bring it back,’ O’Rourke adds.

Monster considers itself ‘your genuine 100% Irish-owned animation studio’. The company nurtures home-grown talent, refuses overseas service work and finds great value in its own intellectual property. The most Irish of Irish cartoons is Monster’s Ballybraddan, about a school hurling team. It’s the ideal Monster property; something that RTÉ can’t import for next-to-nothing like a syndicated Disney show.

Such is the success of Monster that it has separated into two companies. Initially it split into Monster Entertainment, a distribution company and Monster Animation and Design, which specialises in production, but the latter has since re-launched as Geronimo Productions Limited, with both companies now producing and distributing animated projects.

The team at Geronimo showed faith in their own business plan when they produced the preschool show Fluffy Gardens, resisting market demands for characters with ‘generic stories’. The results speak for themselves; Fluffy Gardens is now broadcast in a stupefying 120 countries in 20 languages. With that success under their belts, Geronimo have made even bolder moves since, producing Punky, an animated series about a young girl with Down syndrome. It’s the first show in the world to feature a lead character with such a disability, meaning this company of only 15 has already made its mark.

At its peak Sullivan Bluth employed a staff of some 350 people, producing as much animated material as a company of 80 can produce today. Boulder Media is just such a company. Robert Cullen founded Boulder in 2000 to design E-cards, but after a few animation tests they were handed the reins of Cartoon Network’s multi-award-winning series Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends.Roy Their staff of six grew almost overnight to 28. ‘It was a big task,’ Cullen admits. ‘Definitely a baptism of fire.’

Fosters PR Mac Bloo Coco Eduardo Horz

Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends

Boulder went on to produce a series for Nickelodeon before returning to Cartoon Network for The Secret World of Gumball. Since Gumball arrived, staff numbers have swelled to 78, with the company developing a 3D department in-house to keep up with the shifting industry. Now in the midst of a two-year stint on Disney’s Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja, Boulder have secured a name themselves as Ireland’s premier service studio for animation.

‘We’re definitely punching above our weight,’ Cullen says of the Irish animation industry. ‘With all the big shows that are out there, so many seem to be produced or co-produced in Ireland. It’s great for Ireland’s reputation. As more broadcasters come back to Ireland for projects, hopefully that will incentivise others to pop over to Ireland and make use of Section 481 as well.’

There’s no time for nostalgia about the Bluth era. Cullen admits: ‘If we were offered an endless time frame we’d love to go back to pencil and paper, but I think what we’re trying to do is create that sort of fluid animation within Flash. So it’s still quite traditional animation, just not using paper.’

Nowhere is that clash of old and new in animation more evident than at JAM Media, whose very headquarters reveal a jolting juxtaposition; their offices, complete with glossy logo and a shiny new BAFTA, are located in a deconsecrated 18th Century Moravian Church on Dublin’s Lower Kevin Street. In addition, JAM’s biggest success, the BBC-produced Roy, is about an 11-year-old Ballyfermot boy who appears to be a living hand-drawn cartoon – but it’s all done in computers.

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Roy

Roy is drawn directly into Flash, to create a hand-drawn shape, before he’s sent through the programme After Effects to add natural-looking pencil lines. As Roy producer Ian Hamilton points out, there is an irony in that the better the digital technology becomes, the more ‘papery and textured’ Roy looks.

Roy demonstrates the technology shift behind the current animation boom better than any other project. The show began life as a 23-minute short, Badly Drawn Roy, which was hand-animated, and took a small team nearly a year to produce; picked up for a third and fourth season, Hamilton points out that JAM will now produce 26 episodes of Roy in almost the same amount of time, thanks to Flash.

Despite the wealth of animation talent, with new students graduating each year from courses in IADT Dun Laoghaire and Ballyfermot, and new programmes as far apart as Letterkenny and Carlow, there is still a deficit of animators, with JAM having to look to Canada to get their projects completed. ‘Animation in Ireland is booming at the moment,’ says Hamilton. ‘It’s very hard to find an animator out of work at the moment.’

This is a sentiment echoed by Robert Cullen: ‘I think the industry is in its golden age now; the biggest problem people have in the animation industry in Ireland at the moment is finding the staff! It’s not been hit by the recession in that sense. The really talented people out there are usually hunted down very quickly, so if you’re a good animator you’re pretty much guaranteed a job at some stage.’

Keith Foran, Director of Animation at the National Film School at IADT, has seen the face of Irish animation change more clearly than anyone. He graduated from the Bluth programme at Ballyfermot in its inaugural class, and was a part of the original line-up at Brown bag. He refutes the idea that there is a renaissance in Irish animation, suggesting Bluth was only a precursor to an industry, never truly Irish.

‘The industry has grown, certainly in the last two to three years, but the cottage industry has been there for 15 years,’ he says. ‘The industry that came in before was American-skilled, American-authored, with tax-break incentives and young Irish people doing the menial artistic tasks. That was the structure of an animation industry but it closed down over night. The industry that’s there today is not a renaissance,’ he adds, ‘it’s actually a new industry – a new dawn.’

 

This article originally appeared in Film Ireland magazine – Issue 144, 2013

 

 

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Irish Film at the Galway Film Fleadh: Moon Man

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The 25th Galway Film Fleadh (9 – 14 July, 2013)

Moon Man

Saturday, 13th July

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12.15

Moon Man, the 2D feature animation based on Tomi Ungerer’s best-seller, takes giant steps to the Galway Film Fleadh this weekend. Ireland’s Ross Murray and Paul Young, from Cartoon Saloon (The Secret Life of Kells) produced the film along with the German director, Stephfan Schesch, and French company, Le Pacte. Irish animators who worked on the project include Fabian Erlinghauser (The Secret of Kells), Sean McCarron (Song of the Sea) and Marie Thorhauge (Old Fangs).

Catherine Hehir, Studio Manager at Cartoon Saloon, told Film Ireland, ‘We are delighted that the Galway Film Fleadh will be screening Moon Man, and the fact that author Tomi Ungerer will be there makes it a very special event’.

Ungerer, who is now based in Cork, acted as a consultant to the filmmakers and will be taking part in a Q&A with Stefano Scapolan from Cartoon Saloon after the screening.

Moon Man is a loving family tale about the man in the moon, who isn’t even aware how much children love him. When a shooting star passes by on its way to earth, he hitches a ride and crashes down on a planet ruled by a tyrannical President. Escaping the president’s soldiers, Moon Man sets off on an adventure , where he will marvel at the many wonders the Earth has to offer and realise how much children love and need him.

Tickets are available to book from the Town Hall Theatre on 091 569777, or at www.tht.ie.

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Call For: Online Smoke Operator

Illustration: Adeline Pericart

Brown Bag Films are looking for an experienced online editor to work on a freelance /part time basis .Brown Bag Films have a 5 months overlap where they need extra online resources to work outside the normal working day (evenings and weekends ) flexible hours available. Applicants will need to be familiar with the Smoke online system ideally.

The duties of this role include:

• Mastering to Tape

• Conforming edits ready for review by directors

• Tracklaying of audio and formatting

• Online editing
Deadline: 15th February 2013

 

Click here to apply www.brownbagfilms.com

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Details Announced of Animation/VFX Event ISA CON 2013

(Guest Speaker Stuart Sumida on the right)

The Irish School of Animation with support from the Irish Film Board, Enterprise Ireland and Animation Ireland has announced details of the upcoming animation/vfx event: ISA CON 2013.

 

The event will take place on Friday 15th February from 7-10pm in Printworks at the Morrison Hotel.

 

Guests speakers at the event include renowned anatomy consultant Stuart Sumida (‘Ratatouille’ and ‘Life of Pi’), animation story artist/director Fergal Reilly (‘The Iron Giant’ and ‘Hotel Transylvania’), motion capture specialist Simon Kay (‘Total Recall’ and ‘Iron Man 2’), and visual effects guru Ciaran Crowley (‘Inception’ and ‘The Dark Knight’).

 

Tickets cost 5 Euro and are available from the Administrative Offices of Ballyfermot College of Further Education. Tickets will also be available for purchase/collection on the door of the venue on the evening of the event.

 

For more information see:

http://bcfeisa.ilikecake.ie/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/ISA-CON-2013.pdf

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Acting For Animators Master Classes with Ed Hooks at Ballyfermot College of Further Education

 

“The actor in an animation is the character on the screen, but it is the animator who must endow the character with the illusion of life.” – Ed Hooks.

Ed Hooks pioneered acting training specifically for animators and his Acting for Animators master class has been presented to tens of thousands of animators around the world.

 

From the 19th to the 22nd November next, Ed Hooks will visit Ballyfermot College of Further Education to deliver a series of master classes on ‘Acting For Animators’ to college animation staff/students and invited guests.

 

The Master Classes, which are supported by the Irish Film Board, will be delivered in the Anna Brett Hall, Ballyfermot College Media Building on the following dates and times:

Monday 19th November from 10-4pm – Acting for Animators Part 1

Tuesday 20th November from 10-1pm – Acting for Animators Part 2

Wednesday 21st and Thursday 22ndNovember from 10-1pm – smaller group sessions with BA Animation students.

 

Ed Hooks

Ed Hooks is a multi-faceted theatrical professional, respected as an actor, author and acting teacher. He has taught professional-level workshops and scene study in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. His stage, film and television credits include more than 100 roles.

Since 1996, Ed created acting training specifically for animators, and his system is used by leading animation schools internationally. He is continually in demand as a guest lecturer and speaker at animation conferences. He has presented his master class at major festivals and major animation studios internationally, like Siggraph, FMX, Dreamworks, EA, Disney and Blue Sky.

Ed has also written a number of books and articles on the subject of acting for animators. And his book Acting for Animators, now in its 3rd edition, is a required text for animators in training everywhere.

 

For more information on Ed Hooks and his master classes see – http://www.edhooks.com/animators.html

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