The Nicktoons Film Festival Announces

Screening: 5-The All-Pro Show

The Nicktoons Film Festival continues this Sunday, with Screening: 5, a selection of seven shorts that just happen to be made by professional animators from around the globe. A co-production of Frederator Studios and Animation Magazine for Nicktoons, The Nicktoons Film Festival airs on the Nicktoons cable channel Sunday nights 10:00 p.m (EST) and 7:00 p.m. (PST), with a repeat at 1:00 p.m. (EST) and 10:00 p.m. (PST). The films featured in Screening Number: 5–The All-Pro Show are: Heads, You Lose by Philip Vallentin, head of Espresso Animation in London; Manbird from Crank Yankers animator Mark Marek; Monstories: Fine Diners from Lance Taylor, head of the Canadian-based studio Facelift Entertainment; Interrogating Ernie from U.K.-based director and co-founder of Loose Moose, Ken Lidster; Lou & Costa–Burglar Welcome Mat from Art Institute of Pittsburgh prof Michael Schwab; Roy & Dog from Jesse Davidge, an animator with Electronic Arts; and Thirsty from Robert Ramirez, the screenwriter for Clifford’s Really Big Movie.

The Nicktoons Film Festival:

Screening: 5–The All-Pro Show
Airdate & Time: November 21, 2004, 10:00 p.m. (EST); 7:00 p.m. (PST), Nicktoons

Film #1: Heads, You Lose (Length: 5:00; CG)–In Philip Vallentin’s wacky short film, Heads, You Lose, we get to see what it’s really like to be one of those poor stone heads stuck on Easter Island. Director and owner of the busy commercial production house, Espresso Animation in London, Vallentin is usually "found tied to his lightbox drawing table with an espresso close at hand," but "from time to time he doodles around and comes up with ideas for short animation films." Here’s what Vallentin has to say about the making of his film: "Why Easter Island? Why 3D? Firstly, the desire was to tackle–at long last–a little 3D in-house project, as we are mostly a 2D studio. Then the priority was to do something character-ful but also something that really needed to be done in 3D. As I couldn’t recall seeing any of these fabulous stone heads done yet in such a way, we jumped at the chance. The added attraction to having just heads stuck on an island is that their predicament feels much like the human condition. It’s surprising how easy it was to think of ideas for these three disparate characters just trying to cope. I’m very happy with the way these little vignettes have turned out and stringing them together as one week [in the lives of the characters] gives us a snapshot view of real Pacific bliss (in 3D)." (For more information on Philip Vallentin and Espresso Animation visit www.espressoanimation.com)

Film #2: Manbird (Length: 3:07; Flash to Quicktime)–If you take Mark Marek’s short Manbird as any sort of guide–you won’t want to drink regular water again. Definitely buy the bottled stuff! We like the unique design, great sound and retro look of Manbird, but we also like the fact that Marek was inspired to create the short by the 1960s Hanna-Barbera series Birdman and the Galaxy Trio. If you think about it hard enough, you’ll recognize Marek’s animation style from Comedy Central’s Crank Yankers. Right now he’s working at the New York-based house, Funny Garbage, on a set of Flash shorts for ESPN. (To learn more about Mark Marek and his rather twisted mind, go to www.markmarek.org.)

Film #3: Monstories: Fine Diners (Length: 1:38; 2D/3D mix)–Lance Taylor helped to develop and storyboard the Emmy-winning series Rolie Polie Olie as well as the Emmy-winning special The Santa Claus Brothers among many others. He founded the animation studio Facelift Ent. Inc. to create and produce animated series, the first of which is Monstories. Says Lance, "I created Monstories to be a completely visual cartoon series–simple in design, without human characters and not specific to any place or time. They’re complete little stories too, with beginnings, middles and ends, not just happenings. Creating humourous cartoons with a fast pace that could be understood by people of any language; that was important to me. Entertainment for entertainment's sake." We happen to think this episode of Monstories called Fine Diners is pretty darn entertaining–even if it will keep us from eating for a while. (To find out more about Lance Taylor’s work or that of his company, go to www.facelift.net.)

Film #4: Interrogating Ernie (Length: 5:00; Stopmotion & CG)– Filmmaker Ken Lidster is co-founder of another highly successful U.K.-based commercial production house called Loose Moose. Lidster’s film, Interrogating Ernie won Best Animated Film at the Durango Film Festival of 2002 and the Jury Award for Best Film by a Professional in the Anima Mundi Fest of 2002. We like Interrogating Ernie because it’s a nutty twist on the typical cop-interviews-criminal set-up. (For more info on Ken Lidster and the work of Loose Moose go to www.loosemoose.net.)

Film #5: Lou & Costa–Burglar Welcome Mat (Length: 1:48, 2D animation)–Michael Schwab not only teaches animation at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, but runs his own 2D studio called Kensington Falls Animation. Schwab’s film Lou & Costa–Burglar Welcome Mat is one of our zaniest picks and, as it turns out, definitely comes from a comedic-base. Says Schwab, "As an animation producer/director, I was lucky to make the acquaintance of Tom Megalis, a local Pittsburgh writer, comedian and filmmaker. Tom asked me to produce Lou & Costa–Burglar Welcome Mat. The cartoon’s concept originated with characters that Megalis was portraying on a local radio morning show. Working with Megalis was a real gas because he has a wacky personality and offered complete creative freedom in the production and direction of the cartoon. (To learn more about Michael Schwab visit www.aip.aii.edu.)

Film #6: Roy and Dog (Length: 3:00; CG)–A grad of the Vancouver Film School, filmmaker Jesse Davidge is now working at Electronic Arts. His nutty Roy and Dog short definitely caught our eye, mainly because of its out there designs and our emotional attachment to Dog–a one-eyed slug. Roy is, of course, a hammer-head shark. We look forward to Davidge’s next film on which he is working after-hours. (For more information on Jesse Davidge go to www.jessboy.com.)

Film #7: Thirsty (Length: 4:14; pencil & marker on paper)–Who knew the desert could be such a tough place for a snake? Robert Ramirez’s very funny short, Thirsty explores one reptile’s Stooge-like challenge to get a little drink of water. "I’m a CalArts grad," explains Ramirez, whose credits include the script for the Clifford’s Really Big Movie and co-director for the DreamWorks’ movie Joseph: King of Dreams, "so I had some really great story teachers like Joe Ranft (Pixar) who told me that when making a short, it’s better to tell a simple story well than a complex story poorly." Ramirez says that he actually created Thirsty as an animatic for a 3D version of the short (which he is working on), but we think it’s extremely appealing just as it is.