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DDi­rec­tors of awards-con­tend­ing an­i­mated fea­tures weigh in on the key mo­ments in making their movies and ca­reers. By Karen Idel­son.

irect­ing a fea­ture film is a life-long goal for many an­i­ma­tors — one made even sweeter when your film has a pole po­si­tion in the an­nual awards race. Once again,

Key mo­ment of in­spi­ra­tion: It goes way back. Early in my col­lege years I was given the book. I’d met a new friend and we started read­ing the book to each other. And I had a change of con­scious­ness, an in­tense feel­ing of be­ing con­nected to ev­ery­thing. It sounds corny to even talk about it, but it was just an in­tense feel­ing. I’ve car­ried that with me my whole life. So, when I got the call say­ing we’d like you to come and direct and write on this thing, I jumped at it. I really was ex­cited to do it. It’s al­ways held a very warm spot in my heart. I felt like if some­body else took this op­por­tu­nity, I’d be so dis­ap­pointed.

Tough­est chal­lenge in making this movie: One of the big­gest chal­lenges was com­ing up with the story, be­cause Kahlil’s book didn’t have much of a story. It’s just a book about some­one who can’t re­turn home and for some rea­son sees a boat one day and knows that it’s his, and on the way to the har­bor, peo­ple ask him ques­tions and ask him to speak on things. That’s really all there is. So, us­ing that as a jump­ing off point, I tried to nur­ture a story out of that. And Salma (Hayek, who pro­duced the movie) had given me the chal­lenge when we first spoke that she wanted this to be a film for all ages, from 5 years old to 95 years old, so that small chil­dren could take from it what they will and travel with it. So, I think stitch­ing the whole thing to­gether was the big­gest chal­lenge.

Piv­otal scene: One scene that really made me feel more se­cure about the movie and the tone of the movie was the scene where Almi­tra is hid­ing from him and she has sneaked into his house, and I came up with the idea of him say­ing, “Is that a mouse?” I could feel the bal­ance be­tween th­ese char­ac­ters and there was a sense of ten­der­ness. There was also a sense of her be­ing drawn out of her self-pro­tec­tive shell by the gen­tle­ness and the di­rect­ness of this man. Like a lit­tle an­i­mal, she was drawn out into the light. When I got that to work right, I felt con­fi­dent to go from there.

Fa­vorite an­i­mated movie or char­ac­ter of all time: The movie that made want to be­come an an­i­ma­tor was Peter Pan and the char­ac­ter that made me want to be­come an an­i­ma­tor was Cap­tain Hook. I loved Cap­tain Hook and I loved that he was a com­bi­na­tion of vil­lainy and com­edy. As an an­i­ma­tor, one of my fa­vorite char­ac­ters to ever work on was Ur­sula the sea witch in The Lit­tle Mer­maid. I did the se­quence where she sings “Poor Un­for­tu­nate Souls” and it was so much fun to work on with that kind of Ger­man cabaret rhythm go­ing on.

Ca­reer beginnings: Prob­a­bly I was like 5 years old when I was watch­ing those films and say­ing I wanted to work on them. I be­lieved in it. I be­lieved you could fly. I would try to act out th­ese things and it would usu­ally end dis­as­trously. I loved that idea of cre­at­ing a mag­i­cal world. I was an only child, so I spent lots of time imag­in­ing th­ese things by my­self. And when I was 8, I sent away for a Dis­ney an­i­ma­tion kit be­cause they sold them and I just started do­ing it. I was an ob­ses­sive geek child.

Best ad­vice: By the way, I’d be so thrilled if some­one saw The Prophet and wanted to do this be­cause of that, be­cause I’m so thank­ful to those an­i­ma­tors who in­spired me. I would say, don’t give up. If you really want to do it, don’t give up. Try any­thing. Work with any­one on any­thing. As soon as I started work­ing on fea­tures, I worked for eight years be­fore any­thing I worked on made it to the screen. So, it can be a dis­cour­ag­ing busi­ness for some. If you really want it, you just have to keep go­ing for it. rather than just a genre. It’s had the rep­u­ta­tion so long of be­ing “for kids,” but it is truly a medium for all au­di­ences. Fa­vorite an­i­mated movie or char­ac­ter of all time: I still love Milt Kahl’s per­for­mance of Shere Khan in The Jun­gle Book. His mas­tery of weight and tim­ing and sub­tle act­ing is in­cred­i­ble. Ca­reer beginnings: I went to CalArts for a couple years and af­ter do­ing an in­tern­ship at PDI, I was hired at ILM, where I worked on The Mask, Ju­manji and Mars At­tacks. Af­ter that I went to Pixar to work on A Bug’s Life, Mon­sters, Inc. and I was a di­rect­ing an­i­ma­tor on Toy Story 2. I spent a few years trav­el­ing around Europe and Asia teach­ing at film schools and con­sult­ing on an­i­ma­tion projects be­fore start­ing to work for Il­lu­mi­na­tion En­ter­tain­ment.

Best ad­vice: If you want to learn to play pi­ano or gui­tar, then you have to play the in­stru­ment. Hav­ing the in­stru­ment in your room ev­ery day as a pretty ob­ject will not make you a mu­si­cian un­less you prac­tice. The same is true for an­i­ma­tion. It re­quires prac­tice. Years of prac­tice. So stop talk­ing about it and get started.

Key mo­ment of in­spi­ra­tion: It started with the idea to use emo­tions as char­ac­ters. I re­mem­ber think­ing that I’d seen sev­eral movies that take place in­side the body, or even the brain. What if, in­stead, we went in­side the mind? Show­ing emo­tions as char­ac­ters seemed to of­fer the po­ten­tial for what an­i­ma­tion does best: strong, opin­ion­ated, car­i­ca­tured per­son­al­i­ties. I pitched the idea to the guys at work and they liked it. I re­mem­ber Ron­nie del Car­men said, “If it’s go­ing to be about emo­tions, it had bet­ter be emo­tional.” That sim­ple but wise state­ment took us on a con­ver­sa­tion about our kids grow­ing up, which really be­came the core of what the film was about.

Tough­est chal­lenge in making the movie: Ev­ery­thing! Char­ac­ters, sets, props … . Since the film was set in the mind, there was nowhere to look for ref­er­ence. It’s a rather ab­stract con­cept, and Ralph Eg­gle­ston and the art depart­ment really had their work cut out for them. Story was no pic­nic ei­ther – it was tricky to work out be­cause the story it­self was so tied to the ar­chi­tec­ture of the mind world. We had two si­mul­ta­ne­ous story lines go­ing and they had to con­nect and af­fect each other. And even though the out­side kid was un­aware of what was go­ing on in­side, her de­ci­sions had to af­fect Joy and Sad­ness’ jour­ney. We’d make th­ese story changes, only to re­al­ize we had to re­design the whole set.

Piv­otal scene: One of the very first scenes we had was where our lead emo­tion, Joy, fell into the Mem­ory Dump. We knew it was the right place – it was the worst place for our char­ac­ter, since it meant she would be sep­a­rated from her child. And we knew what Joy needed to learn. But it took us over three years to fig­ure out how that scene should ac­tu­ally play. It was one of the first scenes we started with, and was lit­er­ally the last one fin­ished.

On the state of the an­i­ma­tion busi­ness: It de­pends on what you’re in it for. An­i­mated films have done pretty well at the box of­fice over the last few years. But cre­atively, I think there’s al­ways room to grow. We an­i­ma­tors of­ten whine that we’re rel­e­gated to the kids’ ta­ble, but of­ten we bring that on our­selves. I think we could reach fur­ther, and be more so­phis­ti­cated in our sto­ry­telling. An­i­ma­tion has such in­cred­i­ble po­ten­tial. There are so many roads to ex­plore, even within the realm of the tra­di­tional sto­ry­telling. And with an­i­ma­tion, that’s just the be­gin­ning! Think about this: Fan­ta­sia was Walt Dis­ney’s third fea­ture film. Have we done any­thing that bold since 1940?

Fa­vorite an­i­mated movie or char­ac­ter of all time: Dumbo is amaz­ing; such charm and sim­plic­ity. My Neigh­bor To­toro is an­other fa­vorite – beau­ti­fully done, and such amaz­ing ob­ser­va­tion that went into the per­for­mances. Ca­reer beginnings: I started by paint­ing cels at a small an­i­ma­tion pro­duc­tion house in Ed­ina, Minn. I’d made my own crappy short films in ju­nior high, and now I was at a place where they ac­tu­ally made real an­i­ma­tion! They were mostly me­diocre com­mer­cials for banks and in­sur­ance com­pa­nies, but still! I felt very lucky. And I still do.

Best ad­vice: Make stuff! It’s eas­ier than ever to make your own films. You’ve got to put in the time – it takes years to really get good at this stuff, and there are no short cuts. But if you love what you do, it will show up in your work.

Key mo­ment of in­spi­ra­tion: The key mo­ment of in­spi­ra­tion for me came with read­ing the script for the first time and feel­ing gen­uinely moved.

Tough­est chal­lenge in making the movie: We had a vi­sion for the type of per­for­mances we wanted and a style of an­i­ma­tion that we hadn’t really seen be­fore but we were ex­tremely lim­ited bud­getar­ily when we be­gan build­ing the pup­pets. So, the first year of the pro­duc­tion was all about find­ing cre­ative so­lu­tions to our lim­i­ta­tions while we scram­bled to make im­prove­ments to our pup­pets.

Piv­otal scene: The break­fast scene to­wards the end of the film has al­ways felt spe­cial to me. It’s one of the first scenes we com­pleted and when we screened it cut to­gether for the crew, you could feel a shift take place in the tone of the pro­duc­tion. Ano­ma­l­isa was an ex­tremely chal­leng­ing shoot from the very be­gin­ning and ev­ery­one was worked to their ca­pac­ity, but sud­denly com­ing to work the next day didn’t seem so daunt­ing. Peo­ple really be­lieved in what we were do­ing.

On the state of the an­i­ma­tion busi­ness: I don’t really know much about the an­i­ma­tion hon­est. I’ve al­ways just tried to make things that in­ter­est me and hope that they find an au­di­ence.

Fa­vorite an­i­mated movie or char­ac­ter of all time: The Lit­tle Mer­maid is pretty hard to beat, and any­thing by Miyazaki.

Ca­reer beginnings: Af­ter see­ing my AFI the­sis film, my friend Dino Stam­atopou­los in­vited me to direct an episode of his Adult Swim se­ries Moral Orel. We had a good col­lab­o­ra­tion and con­tin­ued to work to­gether un­til we started our own stu­dio, Star­burns In­dus­tries, with Dan Har­mon, in 2010, to pro­duce the stop-mo­tion episode of Com­mu­nity: “Abed’s Un­con­trol­lable Christ­mas.”

Best ad­vice: It can take a long time. What’s the say­ing? “It takes 10 years to be­come an overnight suc­cess.” It was more than 20 years for me from my first day in film school to the com­ple­tion of my first fea­ture. Peo­ple some­times ask me if I think film school is a ne­ces­sity for be­com­ing a film­maker. Prob­a­bly not, but what else are you go­ing to do for 20 years?

Key mo­ment: The first would be in the dis­cov­ery of the book, which I read out loud to my boys and sort of cheated on them and stayed up late and fin­ished the book af­ter tuck­ing them in. The mo­ment that al­most made me lit­er­ally kind of gasp with the emo­tion of it was a mo­ment be­tween th­ese two ad­ver­saries – the alien that took over the world and the young girl de­ter­mined to re­unite with her mother. It was the mo­ment when she in­vited the alien to call her by her nick­name, “Tip.” I re­al­ized just how beau­ti­fully it could work on screen. The next pow­er­ful mo­ment was the first ses­sion with Jim Par­sons. If you were to read the char­ac­ter of Oh on the page, you would have to say he was a very un­like­able char­ac­ter. He’s ar­ro­gant and he’s taken over the world with his fel­low Boov species; he’s dis­mis­sive of this young girl. Yet, when Jim read him he be­came vul­ner­a­ble and in­cred­i­bly funny. All of this charisma that wasn’t there on the page came out be­cause of the way that Jim im­bued him with his vul­ner­a­bil­ity.

Big­gest chal­lenge in making the movie: The book took place in the United States and that made the story small. Here it was sup­posed to be about a global in­va­sion. The in­spi­ra­tion of how to make it big­ger seems sim­ple now, but our writ­ers – Tom As­tle and Matt Em­ber – came up with it. They de­cided let’s not just have them go to Ari­zona, which they do in the book, but around the world to Aus­tralia. All of a sud­den it be­came about all of hu­man­ity and not just an Amer­i­can book. The hard­est part of pro­duc­tion was the open­ing scene. We must have done a dozen ver­sions of it. I’m ac­tu­ally happy with the way the DVD and Blu-ray in­cludes some alternate ver­sions of scenes, in­clud­ing the open­ing of our movie, be­cause a lot of su­per hero or science fic­tion movies suf­fer from a very ex­po­si­tional open­ing in which there’s a lot of back­story. For a while, ev­ery time we did a version of the open­ing it felt like too much back­story and not enough char­ac­ter and emo­tion. So, we fi­nally had an open­ing where we’re just with Oh the whole time. And we see his en­thu­si­asm and through his eyes. It was a lovely way to say, let’s do an alien in­va­sion movie but let’s do it en­tirely from the alien’s point of view.

Piv­otal scene: There was that mo­ment in the book where they have suc­cess­fully evaded be­ing cap­tured in Paris and they now know her mom is in Aus­tralia. They’re kind of re­pair­ing their lit­tle car and as she pre­pares to get back in, she’s full of en­thu­si­asm and he very awk­wardly stops her and of­fers an apol­ogy as he real­izes he was sort of tricked by Cap­tain Smek and the lead­er­ship of the Boov into do­ing some­thing he’s not proud of.

On the state of the an­i­ma­tion busi­ness: It’s one of the few gen­res that ev­ery­one can go see. And grow­ing up, some of my fa­vorite mem­o­ries are sit­ting next to my dad watch­ing What’s Opera, Doc? or sit­ting with my whole fam­ily watch­ing the first Star Wars. Th­ese movies had se­ri­ous themes and they oc­ca­sion­ally had violence – sword fights or laser blasts – but you could take a 6-year-old to see them and then you’d chat­ter about the movie with your fam­ily over din­ner af­ter see­ing a mati­nee. It be­came a real event for me, and it’s some of my fond­est shared mem­o­ries. I’m really proud that an­i­ma­tion from our stu­dio and our com­peti­tors’ stu­dios con­tin­ues to be one of the re­li­ably safe forms of en­ter­tain­ment for the en­tire fam­ily to ex­pe­ri­ence to­gether. The good news and the bad news is that the state of the art is such that there are no lim­its on imag­i­na­tion. Be care­ful of what you wish for,

Key mo­ment of in­spi­ra­tion: There were two things in par­tic­u­lar. I grew up with this strip and I was 6 years old when the Christ­mas spe­cial hit the TV. Th­ese are won­der­ful char­ac­ters, well de­vel­oped and very re­flec­tive of us in a deep sense. I think Charles Schulz did that so well. There were two mo­ments. One was when Craig Schulz came out to Blue Sky Stu­dios very early in the pro­duc­tion and he brought Tom Everhart with him. Craig in­vited ev­ery­one on the team to re­fer to his dad as “Sparky,” which was his nick­name and what his friends called him. And I was hav­ing din­ner with the two of them and Tom told a story that Sparky said to him he should em­brace the can­vas that he uses for his work. And it made me think we had an op­por­tu­nity to see Snoopy with fur, soft and plush like the stuffed an­i­mals we all had. Making this movie was an op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate an ex­pe­ri­ence that will meet that au­di­ence to­day. The sec­ond was out at the Schulz mu­seum. I would al­ways go up to the sec­ond floor of that mu­seum and go and look at Sparky’s draw­ing ta­ble. And I al­ways mar­veled at the sim­plic­ity of his tools and how he con­nected with an au­di­ence around the globe from that ta­ble. He had this pen line in ev­ery­thing he did and so I thought the mantra for my team was to find that pen line in ev­ery­thing we do.

Tough­est chal­lenge in making the movie: In a phrase, it was to not screw it up. It was to stay true to that legacy and ap­peal to fans and also reach kids to­day who might not know the strip. We went through a tremen­dous amount of ef­fort and de­tail to keep th­ese char­ac­ters true to their in­spi­ra­tion.

Piv­otal scene: Not to to­tally give away the end­ing, but the piv­otal scene comes at the very end. At its core, it was based on look­ing at Char­lie Brown in his 50 years with the comic strip and look­ing at his qual­i­ties. He’s kind. He’s hon­est. And most of all he has that never-give-up at­ti­tude. Af­ter ex­treme fail­ures, he’s that guy who picks him­self back up and says to­day is the day I’m go­ing to do it. To­day’s the day I’m go­ing to fly that kite. To­day’s the day I’m go­ing to win that base­ball game.

Fa­vorite an­i­mated movie or char­ac­ter of all time: My fa­vorite char­ac­ter in that film was Dopey, and I think that car­ries over to my ca­reer as an an­i­ma­tor and work­ing with Snoopy in this film at times — that play­ful very child­like kind of at­ti­tude.

Ca­reer beginnings: My fa­ther was an art teacher, so the tools for cre­at­ing were al­ways there. We were ex­posed to a lot but never pushed. It was just around. I started to draw and when I got into high school I thought this was some­thing I could do. I went into col­lege as a graphic-de­sign ma­jor, and it was my sopho­more year that I took an in­tro­duc­tion to an­i­ma­tion class at Ohio State. And our first project was a draw­ing on film as­sign­ment. I did the short film and when they pro­jected my film, peo­ple laughed. I had this au­di­ence ex­pe­ri­ence you don’t get in graphic de­sign. From that mo­ment on, I was hooked. I could no longer work in static graph­ics.

Best ad­vice: Ev­ery­body says fol­low your pas­sion, but I think it needs to be cou­pled with some­thing I learned from Charles Schulz. You have to do the work. You’ve got to lay your foun­da­tion. He went to that draw­ing ta­ble ev­ery day for 50 years. There were days he was not in­spired and didn’t have ideas, but he still did the work. The other thing I learned from him — and Dr. Seuss when I worked on Hor­ton Hears a Who! — was be a lit­tle bit more like Char­lie Brown. Things aren’t al­ways go­ing to work out like you plan them. And when they don’t work out quite like that, pick your­self up and try again.

On the state of the an­i­ma­tion busi­ness: I see this as an ex­cit­ing new time, sort of in the way im­pres­sion­ism shook up the art world in the 1800s. We’ve been go­ing through a pe­riod where we sort of flexed our CGI mus­cles. We can make things look be­liev­able and real. And what I’m start­ing to see is vari­a­tion in graphic style and move­ment. I ac­tu­ally think it’s vi­tal for us as an in­dus­try to look for new and vi­tal ways to tell sto­ries. And that comes from the styling of the char­ac­ters and the move­ment of the char­ac­ters. When The LEGO Movie came out, I thought that was really fresh. There was a style to the move­ment of the film that didn’t fall into the same old thing. Now we’ve got a gen­er­a­tion or two of peo­ple who’ve grown up on this style of film­mak­ing and it’s no big deal to them. So, we have to be very, very care­ful that we don’t fall in the trap of re­peat­ing our­selves.

that helped us a great deal in our act one.

Big­gest chal­lenge in making this movie: The story was really the tough­est thing. The boy and dog story is a really ar­che­typal thing. It’s a story that’s been told many times in terms of the struc­ture of it. Try­ing to keep it as sim­ple as can be but find­ing our own truths in it is a chal­lenge. We got ex­cited about how sim­ple the story could be. I re­mem­ber John Las­seter talk­ing about what’s in­ter­est­ing about a story that’s sim­ple. He would say that there was no place to hide. You can’t hide be­hind the plot. The char­ac­ters have to be there be­cause you can’t hide be­hind some­thing that’s so sim­ple. When the film got restarted – and it’s been two years on this version of the film – we had to make changes and it­er­a­tions very fast. That was pretty tough, I have to say.

On the state of the an­i­ma­tion busi­ness: An­i­ma­tion has been the con­cept of bring­ing some­thing to life and that’s been every­where. In this coun­try, when I watch tele­vi­sion I feel like things there have re- tained the 2D version of this, and when I see films, they’ve definitely gone with the CG version of things. This has been fan­tas­tic be­cause there’s been a lot of con­tent from dif­fer­ent stu­dios that’s var­ied, but there are a lot of great sto­ry­tellers out there fur­ther­ing the medium in dif­fer­ent ways. The Ap­ple TV chan­nels for Vimeo and YouTube are also push­ing the medium. China is also putting forth some amaz­ing look­ing movies. Korea has also been con­tribut­ing for a long time. It seems like it’s boom­ing.

Fa­vorite an­i­mated movie or char­ac­ter of all time: I had a strong healthy dose of Dis­ney films and Miyazaki films grow­ing up. I feel like Dumbo really im­pacted me. And now, as a par­ent, My Neigh­bor To­toro really means some­thing to me. I didn’t grow up in that Ja­panese spir­i­tual cul­ture but some­thing about it is really pow­er­ful. Get­ting to see that movie through my kids’ eyes reignited all of that again.

Ca­reer beginnings: It started off at Warn­ers with Iron Gi­ant — that was the first film I was on. And all the friends I made in school really trig­gered a lot in­side me in terms of what my work in an­i­ma­tion would be, be­cause it really has to do with the peo­ple you get to know and get to work with more than any­thing. The peo­ple I met at school, I con­tinue to work with them to­day. A friend of mine and I cold called Brad Bird be­cause we were so ex­cited about Fam­ily Dog and we were lucky enough to get a gig on Iron Gi­ant and learned a lot about making movies. From there, I worked on sev­eral other projects un­til I got to Pixar. So, I think it all started at Warn­ers.

Best ad­vice: This may be cliché, but I would say really learn the form and love it as much as you can. Learn ev­ery­thing you can about it. Lov­ing it means putting your heart into it. The work takes for­ever. It’s a long process. I’ve been on this film for five years and the love for the medium helps you push through it be­cause you be­lieve in the power of sto­ry­telling and the process of making char­ac­ters come alive. I would say really un­der­stand­ing the work and lov­ing the work is im­por­tant. I can’t tell you how many times in my life, when things got hard or com­pet­i­tive, I de­cided I was go­ing to do what­ever I needed to do to make the work as good as I could. That’s helped me pri­or­i­tize and never stop learn­ing. Lov­ing it is the se­cret for me.

Key mo­ment of in­spi­ra­tion: When we were work­ing on the SpongeBob TV show, we were talk­ing about Lord of the Flies and the idea was, wouldn’t it funny if the Krusty Krab ran out of nap­kins, and we sort of took that idea fur­ther.

Tough­est chal­lenge in making the movie: The tough­est part is that, when you’re making a TV show, you have quick dead­lines, so you don’t get a lot of time to go back over your jokes. You’re also work­ing in an 11-minute for­mat. When you work on a longer pe­riod of time on a longer story, you start tear­ing things apart a lit­tle bit more be­cause you have to do that. So, the big­gest chal­lenge is go­ing from 11 min­utes to some­thing like 85 min­utes.

Piv­otal scene: The scene that the whole story hinged on was the trans­for­ma­tion of reg­u­lar Bikini Bot­tom into Apoc­a­lyp­tic Bikini Bot­tom. We toyed with that for a long time to make sure that it read and that it was as funny as it could That was an­other key thing for us: to keep it as funny and light as pos­si­ble.

Fa­vorite an­i­mated movie or char­ac­ter of all time: I definitely was in­spired as a kid by Betty Boop. I also thought Betty Boop had the best mu­sic. I’m definitely a fan of that sur­re­al­is­tic “any­thing can be alive” idea.

Ca­reer beginnings: When I was lit­tle and I fig­ured out that Mel Blanc did the voices of al­most ev­ery sin­gle Warner Bros. car­toon char­ac­ter, I thought that was what I wanted to do. My mom bought me a tape recorder and I used to record my­self try­ing to do voices. And then I started draw­ing lit­tle flip car­toons in the cor­ners of my books. I got in trou­ble in school for that. But then my mom let me draw in the cor­ners of her books. The Guin­ness Book of Records was al­ways a good one, be­cause it was so thick and you could do a lot with it. Later, I found out about CalArts and ap­plied and went there.

Best ad­vice: I tell kids who ask me about work­ing in an­i­ma­tion they should al­ways be draw­ing. Any time your hand isn’t feed­ing you, it should be draw­ing. You need to be mov­ing a pen­cil on pa­per. You should be draw­ing from real life. One of the most help­ful things is to draw an­i­mals and peo­ple that you see.

On the state of the an­i­ma­tion busi­ness: I feel like I’ve been say­ing this for my en­tire ca­reer, but I feel like it’s con­stantly in flux and con­stantly chang­ing and evolv­ing. And now with a mil­lion ways to re­ceive and cre­ate con­tent, there seems to be a lot more free­dom in that peo­ple can get their work out. Carl Har­vey (C.H. Green­blatt), who used to work for SpongeBob, has a show out called Har­vey Beaks and some of the peo­ple he hired he found on Tum­blr. There are all kinds of ways of cre­at­ing car­toons now that don’t re­quire as many peo­ple. [

Mex­ico Di­rec­tor: Al­fonso de la Cruz Pro­ducer: Jel­ly­fish Qual­i­fy­ing Win: More­lia Int’l Film Fes­ti­val Young Ernesto must un­lock the se­crets of com­plex grownup emo­tions in or­der to understand the un­der­tones of daily life. Ger­many Di­rec­tor: Jochen Kuhn Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Mon­treal Fes­ti­val du Nou­veau Cin­ema Italy Di­rec­tor: Monica Man­ganelli Qual­i­fy­ing Win: L.A. Shorts Fest The dev­as­ta­tion of the 2012 Emilia Ro­magna earth­quake, as seen through the eyes of a child and his friend, a snail.

Chile With such a wealth of films emerg­ing from all cor­ners of the globe, the Acad­emy Award race for Best An­i­mated Short Film is any­body’s game. Each year we strive to nar­row down the list of con­tenders for the cov­eted nom­i­na­tion spots based on key award win­ners from in­ter­na­tional

fes­ti­vals, or, at the very least, give you a hearty must-watch list. U.S.A./ Nether­lands Direc­tors: Ru Kuwa­hata, Max Porter Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Austin Film Fes­ti­val Physics meets fairy­tales as a cuckoo clock re­counts a day where bread was sliced one sec­ond thick, lovers fell in sync and time rarely flowed at an even rate. Brazil Di­rec­tor: Pe­dro Har­res Pro­ducer: Otto De­sen­hos Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Guadala­jara Int’l Film Fes­ti­val Castillo, a young dock­worker on the coast be­tween Brazil and Uruguay whose time is like­wise di­vided, faces his own bru­tal­ity at the end of a fish­ing line one night. U.S.A. Di­rec­tor: Daniel Drum­mond (Chap­man Univer­sity) Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Stu­dent Acad­emy Award As two or­gan­isms com­pete for the one light amid the dark­ness, their story re­veals the volatile na­ture of power. Ger­many Di­rec­tor: Felix Deimann Qual­i­fy­ing Win: SIGGRAPH Com­puter An­i­ma­tion Fes­ti­val By cap­tur­ing orig­i­nal footage of Olympic ath­letes and dig­i­tiz­ing them through 3D mo­tion track­ing and ro­to­scop­ing, the spe­cific char­ac­ter of each com­pet­i­tive sport is re­flected in ab­stract shapes. U.S.A. Di­rec­tor: Nas­sos Vakalis Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Odense Int’l Film Fes­ti­val Børge Ring Award A so­ciopo­lit­i­cal metaphor of our world, where char­ac­ters are both preda­tors and vic­tims in a sys­tem that runs like a well-oiled ma­chine, ca­ter­ing to the top con­sumers while oth­ers are only fed by left-overs. Ger­many Di­rec­tor: Till Nowak Qual­i­fy­ing Wins: Aspen Short­sFest, An­ima Mundi A trip be­tween fan­tasy and re­al­ity, be­tween an­i­ma­tion and live-ac­tion, which tells the story of a psy­chotic street mu­si­cian who has to leave his men­tal world to deal with the real one. U.K. Di­rec­tor: Nina Gantz Pro­ducer: Em­i­lie Jouf­froy Ed­mond stands alone by a lake, con­tem­plat­ing his life and jour­ney­ing back in time to dis­cover the ori­gins of his com­pul­sive need for love. Swe­den Di­rec­tor: Nils Ber­gen­dal Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Cinequest Grow­ing up as an Amer­i­can Jew with a Holo­caust sur­vivor mother, David Paul is haunted by “the Nazi thing” — an ir­ra­tional fear of Ger­mans and an ob­ses­sion with Holo­caust movies. China Di­rec­tor: Wenyu Li Qual­i­fy­ing Win: War­saw Film Fes­ti­val A sim­ple story about a lit­tle pig from P Town, who jour­neys to the ele­phant me­trop­o­lis City Ele, casts an ironic light on the dis­crim­i­na­tion in so-called civ­i­lized so­ci­ety. Aus­tralia Di­rec­tor/ Pro­ducer: An­thony Lawrence Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Sydney Film Fes­ti­val Yo­ram Gross An­i­ma­tion Award

When six odd char­ac­ters meet in a bath house – the pedant man­ager, a couple with a strange way of com­mu­ni­cat­ing and a gang with shady in­ten­tions – some­thing is bound to go wrong. U.K. Di­rec­tor: Sa­rina Ni­hei (Royal Col­lege of Art) Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Ot­tawa Int’l An­i­ma­tion Fes­ti­val Ab­surd, ironic and hand-drawn all the way, the story is about small peo­ple wear­ing hats who can­not avoid ridicu­lous so­cial sit­u­a­tions. U.S.A. Di­rec­tor: Alyce Tzue (Acad­emy of Art Univer­sity) Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Stu­dent Acad­emy Award As­pir­ing air­plane de­signer Mara is awak­ened from her self pity af­ter an­other failed model plane flight by a 5-inch-tall boy and his fan­tas­tic fly­ing ma­chine lands on her head and needs her help. Por­tu­gal Direc­tors: David Dou­tel, Vasco Sá Pro­ducer: Ro­drigo Areias; Bando a Parte Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Ci­nan­ima Int’l An­i­mated Film Fes­ti­val Like soot de­posit­ing on the chim­ney walls of one’s mind, the wisps of ex­pe­ri­ence may blind you or leave only a trace of some­thing al­ready gone. Poland Di­rec­tor: Wo­j­ciech Bakowski Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Grand Prize of the City of Ober­hausen — Int’l Short Film Fes­ti­val Ober­hausen An­i­ma­tion, voice-over, mu­sic and text col­lide in a strange, po­etic, thought-pro­vok­ing vis­ual art piece. U.S.A. Direc­tors: Marisa Ton­tavee­tong, Tamarind King, Yu Ueda, Shir Wen Sun Qual­i­fy­ing Win: At­lanta Film Fes­ti­val Jury Award for Best An­i­mated Short On a sum­mer evening, crowds of hu­mans gather at the Starlight Drive-In to be mes­mer­ized by glow­ing screens — but to the stray cat who lives there, it is just an­other night. Swe­den Di­rec­tor: Åsa Sandzén Pro­ducer: Mario Adam­son Qual­i­fy­ing Wins: Dok Leipzig, Upp­sala Int’l Short Film Fes­ti­val A car­diac mal­for­ma­tion leaves soon-to-be par­ents with an un­ac­cept­able choice in this an­i­mated doc­u­men­tary. France Di­rec­tor: Paul Cabon Pro­duc­ers: Mathieu Cour­tois, Jean-François Le Corre Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Sun­dance Film Fes­ti­val A storm reaches the shores of Brit­tany. Na­ture goes crazy, and two young sci­en­tists get caught up in the chaos. Es­pi­onage, ro­man­tic tension, and mys­te­ri­ous events clash with en­thu­si­asm and ran­dom­ness. Hun­gary Direc­tors: Réka Bucsi, József Fül­löp Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Flick­er­Fest Int’l Short Film Fes­ti­val Yo­ram Gross Award for Best Int’l Short An­i­ma­tion The un­con­ven­tional nar­ra­tive presents a sub­jec­tive world through 47 scenes. The sur­real sit­u­a­tions are based on the in­ter­ac­tions of hu­mans and na­ture. U.S.A. Di­rec­tor: Bran­don Olden­burg Pro­duc­ers: Robert Pasin, Lamp­ton Enochs; exec. pro­duc­ers Wil­liam Joyce, Trish Farnsworth-Smith; as­soc. pro­ducer Wen­dell Ri­ley Qual­i­fi­ca­tion: What be­gins as a boy’s over-sched­uled, over su­per­vised, bor­ing day with Grandpa turns into a larger-than-life jour­ney, nar­rowly es­cap­ing wild mon­keys and bat­tling aliens to save the uni­verse. U.S.A. Direc­tors: Ni­cholas Man­fredi, El­iz­a­beth KuHer­rero, Thad­deus An­dreades, Marie Raoult (School of Vis­ual Arts) Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Stu­dent Acad­emy Award When his per­fect mar­riage pro­posal plan is put in jeop­ardy, one young man is forced to dive deep into the un­known to sal­vage his ro­man­tic scheme. New Zealand Di­rec­tor: Alyx Duncan Qual­i­fy­ing Win: War­saw Film Fes­ti­val One night, an old man dreams a storm into his bed. In the op­ti­mism of his youth, he be­lieved he could save the world. But now, near­ing the Ire­land Di­rec­tor: Mau­rice Joyce Pro­duc­ers: Nuria G. Blanco, Mark Hod­kin­son Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Gal­way Film Fleadh - James Hor­gan Award for Best An­i­ma­tion The cau­tion­ary tale of a young girl who de­spises her re­flec­tion. Tired of the abuse, Vi­o­let’s re­flec­tion de­cides she’s not go­ing to take it any­more. Bel­gium Di­rec­tor: Jan Snoekx Pro­duc­ers: Walk­ing the Dog, Se­ri­ous Film, XiOLA Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Fes­ti­val Voltaire is an in­se­cure weath­er­vane on an in­signif­i­cant coun­try­side chapel. One night af­ter be­ing blasted off by light­ning, he takes a chance on mov­ing to a beau­ti­ful, far­away cathe­dral. But he’s not the only one there ... Ger­many Di­rec­tor: Sonja Rohleder Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Leeds Int’l Film Fes­ti­val A woman walks her dog in the park, where she meets a man she would have liked to avoid. Le­banon/Qatar Di­rec­tor: Ely Dager Qual­i­fy­ing Win: An­i­mafest Za­greb, An­necy,

Mon­fery (France)

by Do­minique

by An­drew Coats & Lou Hamou-Lhadj (U.S.A.)




Bill Plymp­ton (U.S.A.)


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