INTERVIEW: Nick Park On The Earthy Humor And Art Of ‘Early Man’

British stop-motion icon Nick Park has returned to the big screen after 13 years, this time with Early Man, his first feature project as a solo director.

For this latest caper, the Wallace and Gromit creator turns his attention to an imagined origin for the world’s favorite sport, soccer…erm…football. When the Bronze Age comes knocking, a ragtag group of cavemen headed up by Dug (voiced by Eddie Redmayne) are forced to take on the professional footballers of Real Bronzio in order to save their idyllic homeland from Tom Hiddleston’s greedy Lord Nooth.

Read the whole article at Cartoon Brew.

American Audiences Can Now See ‘Have A Nice Day,’ An Absurd Chinese Crime Fantasy

Liu Jian’s second feature film Have a Nice Day hones in on the fringes of a city in southern China and a cast of characters caught in between urban modernity and rural tradition.

Liu finds this particular socio-geographical intersection fascinating. “I love to observe and reflect on how people there are living, thinking, and acting,” he says in the press notes about his latest film. “The cultural landscapes of the city’s edges and the people who live there are one of the main sources and inspirations for my work.”

Have a Nice Day is a pop ensemble gangster film that follows the journey of 1 million yuan (roughly $150,000) stolen from a southern Chinese crime boss and pursued by those who yearn for a freedom that they believe only money can bring. Above all, the film centers on the reality for many in China who live outside major metropoles and are affected by unchecked urbanization and industrialization.

Read the whole article at Cartoon Brew.

An Ode to Dreams: Glen Keane’s ‘Dear Basketball’

Glen Keane and Kobe Bryant formed an unlikely team in order to produce Dear Basketball, one of the films in a list of 10 that may be nominated for the Academy Award for best animated short.

Veritable animation legend Glen Keane is not a big basketball fan — but he is a fan of veritable basketball legend Kobe Bryant. “There was something in the energy and the passion, there was electricity on the court when Kobe was playing,” says Keane with a great deal of admiration in his voice.

Lucky, then, that Bryant chose to approach Keane to develop an animated short based on his love letter “Dear Basketball,” first published in 2015, when Bryant announced his retirement from the game. The two greats clicked straightaway, and worked closely together throughout the process. “[Kobe] is such an easygoing person, that you immediately feel at home and comfortable with him, and we started to connect on creative ideas. It was a conversation that just ran on constantly,” Keane says of their first meeting.

Read the whole article at Animation World Network.

‘In A Heartbeat’ Short an Endearingly Innocent Portrayal of Young Love

In November of 2016, Esteban Bravo and Beth David, then animation students at Ringling College of Art and Design, launched a Kickstarter campaign in order to fund their senior thesis project, a 3D short about a young boy whose anthropomorphized heart threatens to reveal his crush on a male classmate. Within just three hours, their project had been completely funded. By the time all was said and done, they had raised $14,191 — almost five times their original goal.

In its original conception as an idea proposed by another friend, the story of In A Heartbeat concerned a boy and a girl. But when Bravo and David took the project on together, they decided to take things in a different direction. “We thought it might be a much more personal story if we decided to make it about a same-gender crush,” David recounts. “After doing that, the story itself evolved really naturally; it came from a place that was a lot more honest and genuine for both of us. It’s the sort of story we wish we had when we were younger.”

Read the whole article at Animation World Network.

The Wonderful World Of Cardboard In Daniel Agdag’s ‘Lost Property Office’

In a sepia-toned world, a lone man repairs an abandoned toy robot. Behind him, the towering shelves of a cavernous storage facility are crammed to the brim with umbrellas, cameras, skis, rackets, and valises of all shapes and sizes.

As loyal custodian of his local transit’s lost and found, Ed has lovingly recovered and labeled the misplaced possessions of hundreds if not thousands of commuters—but one day, he is notified that his services are no longer deemed necessary. This is the quiet, thoughtful story of Daniel Agdag’s Lost Property Office, a stop-motion film that’s in the running to be nominated for the animated short Oscar.

Read the whole article at Cartoon Brew.

Unpacking The Creative Process Of ‘Negative Space’

In order to produce Negative Space, a gorgeous stop-motion short that illustrates a father and son’s shared ritual of perfectly packing a suitcase, Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter were forced, rather appropriately, to get quite good at the art of packing themselves. By the time the Baltimore-based animation duo wrapped their project in Vendôme, France, they had relocated their entire operation no fewer than four times.

Together, Kuwahata and Porter make up Tiny Inventions, the award winning animation studio responsible for Perfect Houseguest and Between Times, the latter of which won more than 15 awards during the 2014-2015 festival circuit.

Read the whole article at Cartoon Brew.

Curating Emotion: Ron Diamond and the Animation Show of Shows

When asked how many films he watches every year in consideration for the Animation Show of Shows, Ron Diamond isn’t sure. “I know it’s more than 600. It’s probably less than 1,000,” he says casually, as if it could be typical for just about anyone to watch nearly a thousand animated shorts annually.

But it is typical for him, for which the world of animation is thankful. Since 1998, Diamond has been bringing the topnotch shorts of his yearly Animation Show of Shows to the attention of the American animation industry, including animators and execs at top studios like Pixar and DreamWorks, as well as more than 40 universities across the country.

Read the whole article at Animation World Network.