The Nicktoons Film Festival Announces Screening: 10–The "Friends & Enemies" Show

The Nicktoons Film Festival continues this Sunday with Screening 10– a selection of eight shorts that deal with folks we adore and folks who are a bit more challenging. A co-production of Frederator Studios and Animation Magazine for Nicktoons, The Nicktoons Film Festival airs on the Nicktoons cable channel Sunday nights 10 p.m. (EST) and 7 p.m. (PST), with a repeat at 1 p.m. (EST) and 10 p.m. (PST). The films featured in Screening No. 10–"The Friends & Enemies" Show are: The Wild Wild Circus Company from Canadian filmmakers Jean-Christian Knaff and Claude Micelli for indie-house Nelvana; Loco Melones from award-winning filmmaker Izabela Bzymek; Playing Cricket from NASA/JPL robotics engineer Jack Morrison; Beach Booty from CalArts grad Alex Hirsch; Fool Throttle from ReelWorks Animation Studio filmmakers Todd Hemker and Morgan Williams; Monkey, Monkey from New York-based filmmaker Melissa Jordan; Rustbuckets: The Last Rainforest from Australian filmmakers Daniel Kouts and Paul Harmon; and Six Snails Snoring from fine arts lawyer Charles Danziger.

The Nicktoons Film Festival:

Screening: 10–The "Friends & Enemies" Show

Airdate & Time: Dec. 26, 2004, 10 p.m. (EST); 7 p.m. (PST), Nicktoons

Film #1: The Wild Wild Circus Company: Fishy Memories (Length: 5:00; 3D animation with 2D textures)–Jean-Christian Knaff and Claude Miceli Knaff are a husband and wife team with expertise in illustration and sculpture. In addition to running their own studio, Knaff and Miceli, the two some have created an endearingly different series of shorts for Nelvana called The Wild Wild Circus Company. The story of two young acrobats, Nice and Bijou, who meet in a beautiful park, The Wild Wild Circus is a flight into the imagination. The episode we picked to show you is called Fishy Memories and involves performer Bernard as he remembers his unique childhood. (To find out more about the filmmakers and other Wild Wild Circus Company shorts produced for Canada’s major indie house, Nelvana, e-mail [email protected])

Film #2: Loco Melones (Length: 1:20; 3D animated in Softimage XSI)–Aren’t you glad you have your holiday shopping done? Now it’s time to get back to real life and the annoyance of little things, like the grocery store. In Loco Melones, filmmaker Izabela Bzymek turns a visit to a rather downtrodden little market into a Laurel & Hardy-esque parody of the everyday. Bzymek explains that the concept for her prize-winning short actually came from her boyfriend, who helped her sift through dozens of ideas. "We were both taking up 3D at the time and I had so many ideas, I couldn’t pick one. Mike suggested, jokingly, ‘Why don’t you do two old biddies fighting in a market?’ I thought, ‘Well, that’s not bad. I put a little story behind it and, voila! Loco Melones!" Ahh…if only everything were that easy! (To contact Izabela Bzymek e-mail her at [email protected] or check out her illustration website, www.faeriesarereal.com.)

Film #3: Playing Cricket (Length: 1:40; 3D animated in Hash’s AnimationMaster)–As most of us know, the online dating thing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Humans, though, aren’t the only animals that have a hard time finding their soulmate. In Jack Morrison’s clever take on insect mating, crickets do, too! Says Morrison, "During their mating season, crickets like to invade our house, and their favorite spot is under the tracks of the largest sliding glass doors they can find. It got me thinking about how clever they are to pick the best spot for amplifying that annoying noise they make, and I wondered what extremes a cricket might go to boost his odds." Let’s just say, "all" extremes! (To reach Jack Morrison, e-mail him at [email protected] or check out some of the work he’s completed as a robotics engineer for NASA/JPL. Jack animated "Rover Navigation 101," at

http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/video/animation.html)

Film #4: Beach Booty (Length: 1:27; 2D, edited in Adobe Premiere and After Effects)–Oh, the perils of sunbathing. Here’s what filmmaker Alex Hirsch has to say about the creation of his wonderfully uncomfortable short: "I made Beach Booty for my CalArts freshman year film," explains Hirsch. "First year shorts are required to be under 90 seconds, in black and white, so I needed to come up with a fun, simple story that would communicate quickly. Over winter break, I was cleaning out my garage when I found this old metal detector I used to have as a kid. Even though I never found much of anything, I always loved the idea that under the sand could be some kind of hidden treasure. That kind of thing really fueled my imagination, and I thought it would be a good jumping off point for a short." (You can contact Alex Hirsch through his e-mail address, Fezguy@h[email protected])

Film #5: Fool Throttle (Length: 5:00; Flash)–Talk about stylish and retro, filmmakers Todd Hemker and Morgan Williams really come off the line fast with Fool Throttle. Admittedly macabre, Fool Throttle is a cautionary tale that, according to these filmmakers from Minneapolis-based ReelWorks, offers a message of peace. The project started as simply ‘quirky eye candy’ bumpers for the commercial house’s demo reel. In the storyboard phase, exec producer Audrey Robinson Favorito challenged Hemker and Williams to take their scooter character to the next level and make it a real story. The filmmakers explain, "We drew inspiration from Dr. Seuss’s The Butter Battle Book. We liked how there is no clear innocent or guilty party in The Butter Battle, and how the entire conflict escalates over nothing but a matter of taste. Fool Throttle’s story of road rage is a bit like The Butter Battle, an innocent misunderstanding that leads to pointless aggression." As we all know, pointless aggression makes for really good cartoons! (To learn more about the filmmakers and their company, go to www.realworks.com.)

Film #6: Monkey, Monkey (Length: 2:18, 2D animation)–Oh, that little green monster does create conflict, doesn’t he? In the case of Melissa Jordan’s funny short, that least attractive of all traits is the main subject. Says Jordan, "I came up with the idea for Monkey, Monkey in storyboarding class at the School of Visual Arts. My teacher was the legendary Howard Beckerman and he asked us to create a storyboard on the topic of jealousy. I ended up making a whole film about it. I think the idea of using monkeys and a tropical theme comes from Florida, where I grew up." Jordan is working in New York at Funny Garbage, a web-design house. (To reach Melissa Jordan, e-mail her at [email protected])

Film #7: Rustbuckets: The Last Rainforest (Length: 3:00; CG animation)–Filmmaker Daniel Kouts says, "The films, TV shows and animated stories I’ve enjoyed the most are the ones that don’t rely on dialogue." One of his favorite examples is The Road Runner; another is Mr. Bean. The central character in Kouts’ 13×3 Rustbucket series, is Klank–a 24th-century robot who works as a janitor in an aging museum of the 20th century. "Klank has his comedic roots in the great silent film era comics–Chaplin, Keaton," adds Kouts, who worked with producer Paul Harmon, to develop the property. Of the several delightful Rustbucket shorts, we selected The Last Rainforest for its solid animation, whimsical tale and dash of pathos. Kouts has worked for such Australian houses as Animal Logic and Filmgraphics Prods. Harmon is an award-winning filmmaker/producer running his own ad agency downunder. The Australian Film Commission and SBC Television funded the pilot episode of the series. (For more information on Rustbuckets go to www.thinkingpictures.com.au.)

Film #8: Six Snails Snoring (Length: 3:00; Flash)–By day, Charles Danziger poses as a lawyer for fine artists, but here at the film festival we know he’s a talented animator to boot. Although Danziger explains that his film was created to help kids calm down at night, we found that it also has a wonderfully mesmerizing effect on adults. We kept watching it over and over without realizing it. "The idea behind Six Snails Snoring is that young children can learn to count as they go to bed, while at the same time literally counting down to bedtime," says Danziger. "I have tried to put each animal in imaginative scenes that are appealing to kids, such as fish eating French Fries, and peacocks playing ping-pong. By the end of the movie, the child will have sung good night to the animals, all ten of them will be happily snoring and, ideally, the child will be, too. The film’s extraordinarily talented composers, Drew Hemenger and Philip Carroll, managed to create the perfect, whimsical music to give each animal a distinct personality–and to send them off to sleep." (To contact Charles Danziger, e-mail him at [email protected] To see more of his animation, go to www.crunchyworld.com.)