Boy, am I beat! And it's been over 24 hours since the Animation Extravaganza, so that's telling you something. Maybe I'm getting too old to do all this, but all in all, I really enjoyed the entire night. Everyone had a great time.
Ever since I've become the screenings coordinator for ASIFA-Atlanta, there have been some stressful moments while organizing a particular event: making sure the venue is secure, all the films are cued up and ready to go, audio levels are in check, there are enough volunteers to help out at the door, etc. Luckily, I didn't have to do too much of that last night because it was essentially an Image night, the organization who puts together the annual Atlanta Film Festival, but there were plenty of tasks for me and my fellow ASIFA volunteers to attend to. For the record, we did have enough volunteers present to hand out flyers, sell and tear tickets, crowd control, that sort of thing,—so a big THANKS for those of you who offered your time to help. We can't tell you how appreciative we were of your presence there last night! I honestly feel that the event wouldn't have gone as smoothly as it did if you were not there. Thank you.
The screening overall was a highly emotional one, with some heavy material being shown, like John Canemaker's emotional THE MOON AND THE SON, Disney's somber THE LITTLE MATCHGIRL, DRAGON, and the apocalyptic THE SANDBOX. So no wonder that the films which received higher marks from the audience had more of a lighter tone, like FUMI AND THE BAD LUCK FOOT and THE MANTIS PARABLE. But that's what makes a great screening if you ask me. Give me a nice, diverse range of storylines, mediums, and styles, and I'll be a happy boy. I do feel that maybe one or two of the films could've been taken out to cut back on the almost-2-hour long running time, but overall it was a success.
During the second screening, I had a slice of pizza next door at Fellini's with two of the evening's filmmakers, Scott Kravitz (LOOM) and D. Grant Goans (MAN DRAWING A RECLINING WOMAN). We had a great conversation about how they found the time to make their films as well as some of the highs and lows of creating stop-motion animation (both of their films were done in this format). I've always admired stop-motion animators for their persistence as well as tenacity in what they do, so it was enlightening for me to listen to how these two guys created their films. Scott's short film took about 4 years to complete, a side project that became a creative oasis for him to return to in between drab paying animation gigs. D. Grant Goans' film was also a side project for him (most of these indie films are anyway), but unlike Scott, his full-time job is not in the animation industry. A local guy, D. Grant works for my alma mater, Georgia State University, in a very un-animation like position for their online library (I think that's right, sorry if I got that wrong, D. Grant). It's interesting to see how animation can serve as a creative outlet in so many ways for different filmmakers. And to have your work shown up on a big screen in front of fellow animation lovers is the perfect culmination for all your hard work and many man-hours slaving over your 'baby.' It is a tremendous joy. How do I know? I've had two films shown in festivals, and I've never experienced anything quite like it. (More on my two films later.)
After each show, I moderated a brief Q & A with the filmmakers present that evening: the aforementioned Scott and D. Grant, as well as the hairy, yet lovable Brett W. Thompson. D. Grant was not able to make it for the first Q & A, but all three were able to answer questions after the second show. There were some great questions asked, quite unlike previous years when like, only two questions would be directed to the filmmakers. And one of them would always be the inevitable, "So, like, um,... how long did it take to make your film?" Or, "So, how much did it cost to make it?" For some reason, these two issues are big with the general public when it comes to animation: time and money. The way I see it, it's a way of non-animators trying to put this strange, quirky art-form into tangible terms, when in reality, you can't. Most of the filmmakers did favors, bartered, eeked out time here and there to get their projects done, so to conform to concrete conditions in regards to a film's worth is ultimately pointless. When you have a vision, a drive, to create something, you don't think in terms of cost and time. Yes, it is important to have money to pay for equipment & materials, but really, all you want to do is just create. Your drive to create on your own becomes a priceless commodity that no one will ever understand, no matter how much you try and explain it in front of an audience.
Oop. Didn't mean to go off on a tangent like that. The evening ended with some great questions and even better answers, so I tip my hat to the guys who showed up to talk about their films. And another tip of the hat to all the other filmmakers who had the drive and energy to give us a most excellent evening of animation.
Big thanks to the ASIFA volunteers, Image, and especially to Jake Jacobson, the director of the Atlanta Film Festival, for allowing us to help out during the Animation Extravaganza. We had a great time.