A conversation about indie animation and funding

Conversation with Cory You (maker of weird electronic dance music and oddball cartoons – here’s a site for his animation.) Pounded out in 10 minutes (opinions may be relative.)

Cory You:
Pretty neato indie animation i found.

Patrick Lake:
Looks great. I have really been digging this one, too.

Cory You:
Since large studios have long ago left behind 2d in favor of the glut of talking animal cgi films…it’s good to see independent companies and solo artists keeping 2d alive. I see this a lot with French animation. I have fond memories of going to festival of animation presentations in the late 80’s and early 90’s and watching MTV’s Liquid Television.

WOW! That black sunrise trailer is visionary! Way better looking than those cruddy straight to dvd dc and marvel “movies”. The style reminds me of Jin Roh Wolf Brigade meets Watership Down meets French animation.

Man after seeing the atomic robo and black sunrise trailers, i really want to learn how to do that really dynamic sort of animation. be it tekkinkinkreet, bill plimpton or liquid tv style.

Patrick Lake:
yeah… god, I do bubbly round stuff because it’s easier to move (when I have the time to do a thing… not so much this year) and it says “for kids”. These guys are doing something with a more limited frame rate (think anime, but tasteful), with very careful picking of what to move, how much art to draw, and what’s rendered in the backgrounds to capture a refined mood. (My impression- without actually checking the trailer as I type.)

Checking the Atomic Robo kickstarter, I noticed you can pay them to put on a workshop to get the most out of a limited team. (If you pay them lots). Yeah, there’s a carefully planned system in this. These have got to be people working at a high level where they practice every day and it’s ALL they do. That’s not me sadly… I’m too spread out (who isn’t?)

I don’t see how this stuff can be economically viable… making a feature film at a feature budget (even very low 7 figures), but independently, is like a shoot-the-moon proposition. (That’s another impression… partly coming from working on one and following the director’s blog.) The biggest hurdle, still, is with gatekeepers and getting distribution enough to recoup the effort.

That’s where Kickstarter is starting to upend the usual Big Investor mode of working. It’s reversing the equation where a very small group of capital holders put in a LOT, but expect to own a huge piece afterwards, with a big return. Crowd funding is sort of combining pre-sales with a PBS donation fundraiser, except the project starters own it ALL after Kickstarter’s 10% cut, and contributor profit is replaced by the satisfaction of being an active part of something cool. I like how it raises the bar by making it all-or-nothing… pick a limit high enough that it’s worth the effort to try, but low enough to be realistic that you will get the money… helping quality (and the most active makers) rise to the top. I heard some vague gossip that there’s attitude by venture capital treating Kickstarter like a party crasher. It’s still mostly about small projects they wouldn’t bother with anyways, but the other week, a silly webcomic just got a million or 2 million bucks or something (Order of the Stick, their biggest project yet I think.) It’s not exactly an uncommon amount if considered as a pile of books- maybe a hundred thousand sales, maybe not that important compared to any NY Times best seller, but it’s still cool. It’s something like the most successful indie comics did during the self publishing boom of the 80’s (Elfquest, etc.)

Indie feature animation is awesome.

Where are all the Traditional Hand Drawn Animated films ? (and why study traditional animation?) – From the Academy of Art University blog. (In the past few weeks, I have just started teaching animation there.)

It feels like I’m surrounded by people getting on Kickstarter. Last week my next door neighbors won $170,000 for Code Hero: A Game That Teaches You To Make Games. This week my buddy down the street is doing a very modest one for Mecha Galaxy — The social game for Mecha commanders.

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