Saturday, March 1, 2014

Moving to Tumblr

Who knows why people move... but I'm moving. To Tumblr. I like the way they can't spell Tumbler. That makes them seem so hip. Stupid, but hip, and I want to be their friend. That and the images post up nice and big! More inspiring to doodle.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Andreas Von Andrian - remembered

Tom Sito sent me a email. It said, 'In Hollywood, there is an annual custom called The Afternoon of Remembrance where the animation community gathers and we speak about everyone in animation who passed in the year just concluded. We are honoring 50 people this year, including Ray Harryhausen, Diane Disney and Harold Whitaker. We are also honoring Andreas von Andrian.' He asked me to write something about Andreas. So here it is. ----------------------------------------------------------- When people ask me the main difference between working in live action and working in animation, I always say 'A complete lack of pretentious jerks. Ok, a few execs maybe, but the people in animation who actually work in production are nicer, and more genuine, because animation is an overwhelmingly tedious process. So to do it, you have to LOVE it! 'Unlike a live action film set, there is nobody in animation walking around with a clipboard, trying to look busy, important, or hoping to get a selfie with a celebrity. We tend to write, draw, stare at animatics, write and draw more. Lather, rinse, repeat. The process is figuratively, and occasionally still in some remote corners ... literally, like watching paint dry. So what I'm saying is you meet passionate people in animation, who love this really tedious time consuming work. And Andreas Von Andrian was one of the nicest and most genuine. I miss him often. And I am so pleased to hear that you are honouring the memory of Andreas tonight. I had the privilege of working with Andreas over the last few years. Not many people realise just how funny this tall, ok,... giant man was. When I first met Andreas, he handed me his storyboard samples in a very official manner, and told me in a dry clinical fashion that I should hire him, quite simply because he was very good at his job. I told him I was looking for people who were really good at comedy and in the most serious tone, made more serious by his German accent, he said 'That is me. I am funny.' And Andreas was. What I didn't realise at first, was that he had two modes. And he could switch between like a lightswitch. Click, and you had the obvious serious, intellectual side, and then click,... bring on the yucks! We shared a lot of serious lunches discussing theology, spirituality and politics. But when it was time to be funny, he was hysterically so. He became, to use a familiar word, animated. He became a cartoon! Angles of arms and legs of a six foot-god-knows-what man was leaping about the room nearly hitting the ceiling with wild gesticulation! Then he'd get serious for a moment, like a mad scientist of comedy, having a eureka moment, and he'd be up and acting out the gag in several different ways, some ever so slight, trying to work out which was the funniest. And we laughed. We laughed a lot. It was a joy to work with him, to break boards, to brainstorm and in essence, goof off for a living. This was hardly watching paint dry. And lunchtime was always interesting. I learned a lot from working with Andreas, and also learned a lot from those lunches. He worked from my house from time to time, and that was fantastic. Effortlessly, he could flick that switch on socially, and make my kids laugh too. They thought he was hysterical, and my son was gutted when he heard that Andreas wouldn't be coming round anymore. Andreas wasn't just a safe pair of hands, he was a safe pair of extremely talented hands. His artwork always appeared effortless. And fast! Did I mention fast?! Nobody could draw faster than him. I know that towards the end, the effortless trick was less so. He struggled with headaches and with his eyesight and couldn't figure out what was wrong. The bottom line, is that in this life, you meet people you work with who you connect with. And for me, that's usually someone that I can share a good laugh with. The loss of his life is a loss for our industry - but also for his family and anyone who ever called him friend.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Santa's Apprentice II is coming out Nov 20th.

Hey look Ma, my name up on the big screen! Excited? Moi? You bet. I had a blast working with Luc Vinguerra, the director and Heath Kenny, the wonderful producer. We crammed a lot of (re)writing into a short space of time and now Luc and his crew have pulled off a big film on a small(ish) budget. Can't wait to see it on the big screen. Should be to a theatre near you, and also in English... soon.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Santa's Apprentice In Post Production

Oooh, now that's a big screen. Suddenly my living room is feeling very humbled. I need a bigger TV... and a mixing desk... ok maybe not a mixing desk.  Wow, even from this far back, you can tell it's looking good. Luc Venguerra is an amazing director and there's a lot of talent over there in Paris. Can't wait to see it on the even bigger screen!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous not just an idiom.

Wow, a double take at The Evening Standard. Sam is literally rubbing shoulders with the fashionistas of this world. Well, with outrageous talent, fab looks and lets face it... a waist line that most girls would give a kidney for (which by the way helps with that waistline) I'm not surprised if every designer is courting her to wear everything on the racks.  Feels like the day before yesterday that we filmed Groove High over in Ireland. Now if only that twit on the right would remove her freaking hat. How rude. What's that fashion statement, "I have the front row and the hell with you people behind me."

Friday, May 10, 2013

Directing May 13th at BAFTA

I'm directing a live piece for the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum next Monday the 13th. It's always good fun, fascinating and of course there's the post-show drinks. Hope to see you there. Click for tickets. And apologies if it's sold out.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Brown paper packages tied up in string, and typing the words 'THE END' and pressing 'send'! Truly my favourite thing.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Ok, this is as fun as it can be frustrating. Breaking the whole film down with small cards on the kitchen table, moving bits around, tearing a few things up, adding some odd things in. And seeing it all come together as a whole.

Basically, anything is possible at this stage... as long as it can fit on the table!


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Clearing up. Look what I found.

I was clearing up the office and this fell out of an old file.
How time flies.
It was a promo card we sent out when we were pitching Mr Hell. I totally forgot that Tim Burton was interested in developing him for a moment there. Whoosh. That was an exciting moment. Still, it landed at Universal Pictures... where it languished in Development Hell... (actually purgotory) for 3 years, and eventually someone at ITV was clearing out their office, found the pitch doc, rang us... and they trotted it over to the BBC. The rest is cult classic multi award winning history, available on DVD (not that anyone sees any money from that, but hey... it's out there... and makes for a nice birthday gift) and it runs in South America and still plays in Russia.
What I really love about Mr Hell... is the great talent who worked on the show. ALL of whom, have gone from strength to strength. Hugh MacCleod is now a one man industry (with 7 people working for him!) and Swampy Marsh is co-creator of Phineas & Ferb. Alan Gilbey is on Dino Paws. I'm not exactly doing badly... Joel Jessup, Ben Bowen, Barry Baker, all go from strength to strength.  And on the Canadian side, J. Falconer is rocking the world with Bob's Burgers, Rob Boultier created Kid vs Kat, Moose Pagan keeps producing shorts that make you weep with envy... and Tim Stuby and I'm sure I'm leaving others out... but truly, what an amazing team.
We were young, we were nieve, but maybe that's why it was and still is a good show.  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dreaming of Jack Kirby

Read some old Jack Kirby stuff before going to bed last night.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Wasted Hour Of My Life

Has there ever been a greater waste of time and talent and money and money spent on talent and use of energy (and the energy of countless projectionists and a distributor's efforts?) than Wes Anderson's 'The Life Aquatic'? I thought that this was one of those films I should see. Wes Anderson after all. Bill Murray post Sophia Coppolla. I should catch up on this missing gem. I mean given that Bill Murray can't possibly make a bad film even when it's the depths of Caddyshack, and Wes Anderson can't take a bad still photo in widescreen. Heck, even if the film is nothing more than some proscenium shots of quirky sets with Bill staring off longingly into the distance, then surely that would have been enough for me. 

If only that were the film. But it wasn't. Bill is interupted with the worst script never to have been written (oh the awful smell of pointless improv to jokes that make only the director laugh) and the pain of watching actors wing amidst expensive set peices and pointless special effects. 

Even the stupid costumes wear thin after oh, the third person dressed like a moron. Contrast = comedy. Everyone dressed like a moron = filming a fancy dress party. 

Quirkiness for quirkiness sake and moments of (I can't even say clever) typography do not a film make. 

And Bill's hangdog repetition of the storyline 'relaxed revenge' bores even him, so why should I bother. 

I tried to hang in there. But I was feeling my time slipping away and soon I was also feeling bad for the actors and the crew... and the time they wasted in making the film. 

And then I thought, oh dear God I'm wasting their time all over again, simply by watching any more of this. The only person getting anything out of it was David Bowie who collects some PRS from the soundtrack, and lets face it, he doesn't need the cash. 

So after an hour, I put a stop to the pain and torture. It is an hour of my life I will never get back and if anyone says 'Oh you should have waited until the ending, it gets better.' I can only say better than what? For me, it only got better when I turned it off. 

Ah well Bill. We'll always have Groundhogs Day. And in all those years you spent in that film, not one moment will ever be a waste of either of our time.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Can a cover have a DVD Extras section?

By Odin's beard shavings, we made the cover of Kidscreen!!!!


OH MY NORSE GOD!!!! We made the cover of Kidscreen!!!!!

Not only did we make the cover, but of all the artwork we sent them, they opted for a bit of cross dressing nuttiness. Bring it on!!! It's that kind of show.

Brenda Wooding and Heather Kenyon are at the helm of a wonderful madcap show about some Vikings, a few herring short of a rollmop, who went the wrong way and are now trying to invade China.

The theme tune sums it all up nicely, and Brenda will fill you in on the rest at Kidscreen summit in New York. Giles New and Keiron Self developed the show with me and have penned some very funny scripts. The design is by the awesome Ministry Of Animation. It's not your conventional show, but then again these are unconventional times. And the only thing that gets a kids attention these days is something that is surprising.