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Best of ABP 2011 L.A. Screening

Man In A Cat has its first Los Angeles showing at around 1.30pm, Sunday 4th December at The Silent Movie Theatre. It’ll be screening just before ABP’s L.A. Draw: Los Angeles Animators Panel and Brunch which is at 2pm.

The event is part of Cinefamily’s Animation Breakdown 2011 Festival which is being co-hosted by Animation Block Party and Cartoon BrewMan In A Cat is there as part of ABP’s ‘Best Of…’ selection.

The screening looks like loads of fun, being a showcase of exciting LA-based animators and including a panel discussion with animators from Adventure Time and The Life And Times Of Tim. I really like that Man In A Cat has a chance to stand out on its own before such a great show, rather than being hidden in the main Best of ABP screening. Normal festival screenings are great, but every one we’re at gets overshadowed by festival sweepers Eagleman Stag and/or A Morning Stroll.

The whole of Animation Breakdown looks great. There’s an overall Polish theme, a personal appearance from Don Hertzfeldt to complete his “Bill” Trilogy, and a host of lost Walt Disney silent Laugh-O-Grams compiled by Jerry Beck.

Leeds and Reading Popcorn Comedy

We ran Popcorn Comedy at Leeds and Reading this year and it was a blast. Carly Smallman and Jonni Music (aka Thomas Nelstrop) were our acts, with Carly doing an incredible job as compere.

We were a bit apprehensive at first about our slots of 12pm and 11.30am, but they turned out to be the perfect times. Hungover festival goers had enough time to stumble over to the tent and we were early enough not to be competing against the noise of the other tents. The relatively pleasant weather meant everyone who came to the tent were really positive about being there, rather than just to shelter from the rain. We’re still pumped from Buttery Biscuit Bass.

 

We’re not 100% sure when our next Birmingham Popcorn will be but check out the Facebook group for future notice. Meanwhile, here’s some snaps:

Great crowd in Leeds

Worst seat in the house.

Vin Deisel having the worst day ever.

Motovun Film Festival

It’s going to be a busy next week for Man In A Cat with screenings at Rushes Soho Shorts, Animation Block Party and Motovun.

Motovun Film Festival is set in the small medieval town of Motovun in Croatia. It’s a pretty beefy festival with 10,000s of people attending and some big prizes up for grabs. The shorts category is a smaller part of the festival, but we made the top 24 selection out of 653 shorts entries. We also now know how to say “Man In A Cat” in Croatian, “Muškarac u macki.”

Here’s a video from last years festival where you’ll spot special guest Terry Jones and err… Hardeep Singh Kohli.

Look at it it! Look how lovely it is!

Animation Block Party

Man In A Cat has got its way into Animation Block Party in Brooklyn! It sounds like a lot of fun, with all the screenings taking place outside and on rooftops. Here’s the full program:http://animationblock.com/summerfest2011/

We’ll be showing at the opening night on Friday, July 29th at the Automotive High School.

Barbara Benas, who did a bit of animation on the film, also has a film in the program. So it looks like we have a couple of tickets to give away…

Official Selection – Rushes Soho Shorts

We’ve been selected to be in competition at the Rushes Soho Shorts Festival, and it’s BAFTA accredited! It’s extra nice as they are the first festival to reply, so fingers crossed this 100% trend carries through (it won’t).

See the full Animation line up here: http://sohoshorts.wordpress.com/rssf-2011-official-selection-2/

We’re up against the big kids too, with BAFTA winning Eagleman StagAardmanBaby CowBBCStudio AKA, and Scottish BAFTA nominated Fixing Luka all being in the mix. Two of those were on the same UKFC funding scheme as Man In A Cat, so HIGH FIVES! It’s also pretty cool that we’re the featured image for the category.

Here’s the details of the screenings:

Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Mall, London SW1Y 5AH

Saturday, 23 July  15.30   ICA – Cinema 1
Tuesday, 26 July   17.30    ICA – Cinema 2

BOOK YOUR TICKETS HERE!

Here’s the program for the Animation Category:

Man In A Cat Screenings

On Thursday 24th March, I spent most of the day trying to knock the last major kinks out of Man In A Cat and managed to rack up a half marathon running back and forth between my flat and various places around Birmingham. Finally after being awake for about 36 hours I rushed my DVD copy over to Vivid (renamed The Dirty End) for Man In A Cat’s first airing as part of Shorts on the Walls, run by Animation Forum WM for theFlatpack Festival.

Ian and I did a Q&A with David Allen and Steven Spencer, who directed that year’s other animated Digishort,Best. It was a giggle, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t make much sense, and was way to close to the painful finishing process to be able to talk about the film in any really insightful detail. Ian on the other hand did. After that we had a few drinks and I escaped the country for possibly the most deserved holiday ever.

Ian did a nice round up of the night on his blog and MiaC (as the cool kids call it) got a nod in the Flatpack Festival roundup.

While I was away Screen WM put on the official premiere for their Digishorts at The Electric on Tuesday 29th March. It went down really well by all accounts. Having seen the line up of that year’s Digishorts scheme, I’d say it’s the strongest group of films Digishorts have produced in a long time. It’s just a shame they are the last of the scheme – in that guise any way.

Man in a Cat screening at Light House

We’ve had two screenings of our animated short All Consuming love (Man in a Cat) so far, and now there’s a screening at Wolverhampton’s Light House cinema on Tuesday, 5 April. In even better news, it’s free to the public, so you can come along, see the film and watch the five other Digishorts filmed commissioned along with ours.

Here’s what’s going on:

On Tuesday 5 April from 7pm the Light House in Wolverhampton will be screening six short films made by the most exciting filmmaking talent emerging from the West Midlands region. In partnership with the UK Film Council, Digishorts was a yearly scheme run by Screen WM offering West Midlands based filmmakers and animators the opportunity to produce innovative and striking short digital films. In its eighth and final year, the slate of films produced demonstrate regional filmmaking at its strongest.

I think we’ll be doing another panel discussion after the screening and we’ll be hanging around for a little afterwards to have a chat, so do come and say hi.

To book a free place at the screening, email ayesha@light-house.co.uk.

See you there!

Louis blurrily swigging fizzy water on the panel afterwards.

Popcorn In The Independent

 

This week’s Birmingham Popcorn Comedy is hosted at The Victoria on Thursday 22nd at 7.30pm and The Independent reckons it’ll be one of the ten best comedy gigs in the UK!

We’ll be playing host to Nick Mohammed & Terry Saunders as well as a batch of funny new videos from the internet. Here’s some more info:

Nick Mohammed – “Delicious… Mohammed is sharp, with great comic presence” Julian Hall, The Independent, “An absolute treat… Brilliantly observed… Choke-on-your-beer funny” Roger Cox, The Scotsman

Terry Saunders – “One of a generation of young, articulate, post-Lee & Herring comics” – The Guardian

Things we learned by hosting Popcorn Comedy

We hosted our first live event last month in the shape of video and stand-up night Popcorn Comedy at the Victoria. We’d done one before at the Electric Cinema last October, but that time we’d had the helping hand of Popcorn’s founder Jon Petrie.

This time it was just us. It was a really great night and we learned a lot about running a night. Here’s some of the things we learned (or already knew) and will be putting into practise for the next Popcorn Comedy on April 22nd.

(By the way, we’re not claiming to be experts. These are based purely on our experience)

1. The Venue

  • The capacity a venue says it has is not necessarily accurate. Check for yourself.
  • Get solid agreements on things like hardware, chairs and staff.
  • Double-check your tech specs. Need a certain cable? Make sure you have your own.
  • Set up the room as early as possible.
  • Think about lighting, music, intermissions and anything else to improve the atmosphere before, during and after the show.
  • Make a customised playlist for background music.
  • Make sure bar staff know when the doors open.
  • Most venues can offer free venue hire if you can assure them they’ll make money on drinks/food through hosting your event.

2. The Tech

  • Make sure you know what each act needs tech-wise, (ie cables, hardware, disc formats).
  • Make sure cables are long enough to be accessible to a technician and/or the acts.
  • Test everything early, and then check it again. You may need to run to Maplin.
  • Remember to turn things like glitter balls and stage lights off before the show, especially if showing films. Easily forgotten.
  • Test playing any DVDs all the way through beforehand (sound + picture). If pausing a DVD player for any length of time, check that it won’t time out/play a screensaver/switch off.
  • Always have a backup DVD.

3. The Crew

  • You’ll need at least three people. One to be a technician, one to greet/take money, one to look after the acts/fetch things/make sure the audience is ok.
  • Define people’s roles so everyone knows what they’re doing.

4. The Acts

  • Book them well in advance.
  • Get an idea of what they’ll be doing in advance. Tech specs, arrival times, payment, etc.
  • Give them a detailed idea of where they need to be, when they need to be there, when they’re going on, how long they have, and when and how they’ll be paid.
  • Offer a complimentary drink or two as a courtesy.
  • Always pay comedians after they’ve performed, some are superstitious about being paid up front. Good knowledge.
  • Get them to sign a form to say they’ve been paid.

5. The Audience

  • Let them know the format, the timings and what they can and can’t do.
  • Ask for applause, especially for film showings. Otherwise there won’t be any.
  • If there’s a bar, direct people to it before the show, at the intermission, or afterwards.

6. Marketing

  • Get listed on as many online listings sites as you can with the same blurb/info.
  • Simple flyers with date, time, venue, price and acts are good. Get them in lots of venues.
  • Make sure you have a good poster/flyer presence in the event venue.
  • Posters elsewhere aren’t really worth it. They’ll be taken down.
  • Facebook event page/fan page is a must. Keep messages to an effective minimum.
  • Twitter also a good way to let people know. But keep it light and conversational.
  • Sell tickets online through something like eventbrite to get an idea of numbers and pre-sell.
  • Invite someone to review/take photos. They’ll be useful for promoting your next event.
  • Pass around and collect mailing lists around in the interval.

7. Other bits

  • Get a money box and make sure you have a sufficient float if taking cash.
  • Eat well before the event, you won’t have a chance later.
  • Don’t drink too much.
  • Don’t disobey the last two points in conjunction.

So there you go. If you’ve got anything to add, put it in the comments.

Hopefully we’ll see you at the Victoria on the 22nd!

Popcorn, Popcorn! Get your Popcorn!

I’m typing this through bleary eyes today after another cracking time at Popcorn Comedy at London’s Roxy Bar & Screen last night, concluding our month of Popcorn-related fun. As ever, the films were excellent, particularly Birdboxstudio‘s ‘Pub’ which bucked the trend and gave everyone a hot slice of traditional animation amongst the more surreal entries.
As you may well know, we were asked to bring Popcorn Comedy to Birmingham recently to spread the potent mix of funny videos and live performances about the place like a particularly amusing rash. I think it’s safe to say it was a success!

The Electric Cinema is a fantastic venue and really provides the perfect atmosphere for films to shine. Funny or Die hit the right notes with their Dawson Brothers-scripted Too Much Minerals sketch, and Rocket Sausage‘s CGI-brows went down a treat too. Misery Bear achieved his usual ‘awww’-factor and Swatrick Payze‘s Funny Fish Finger Friends was a personal favourite. Another Funny or Die entry, Photocopier, looked great too and gave off more short film vibes than out-and-out comedy which changed the pace nicely.

We gave a new film its first airing too, which was both exhilarating and mildly terrifying. We’re interested to see how that goes down on YouTube, as we peered through the cracks in our fingers on the night!

Because of the cosy, cinema setting people were a little quiet at first, so Doc Brown really had to work for those laughs. Luckily he was excellent and I can’t wait to see more from him in the future. His ‘Slang 101’ rap was a highlight, and his gangsta-rap video about equestrian dressage is just awesome.

Sensing a conservative audience, Holly Walsh came out all guns blazing and used her energy and natural banter to rouse them. She’s a very funny lady and I’m sure you’ll be seeing a lot more of her on the tellybox very soon.

I have to say a big thanks to several people, including the Electric Cinema for being such a good venue and the staff for making it all work, Hello Digital for sponsoring the night, Birmingham Comedy Festival‘s Dave Freak for his continuing support, Holly Walsh and Doc Brown for coming up and doing a great job on stage, the filmmakers for submitting their lovely films, the people for coming to watch and Jon Petrie for giving us the opportunity to give it a go and helping everything run as smoothly as possible.

There were undoubtedly times when we had dark thoughts like: “Will the venue be OK?”, “Will people come?” and “What if it all goes tits up and we look stupid?” Fortunately, none of those fears were founded and I’m sure everyone had a good night.

As one of the organisers I am hyper-critical of everything that went on, so the observations below are probably not indicative of the views of joe-public in the audience. But still, here’s some other thoughts I think need airing.

Taking an established night to a new city is not easy. Promotion was tricky as many central venues wouldn’t allow posters for out-of-house events. Listings websites also seemed slow to update given our admittedly short notice and the region’s print media showed little-to-no interest in providing any coverage, a fact that I am still slightly disappointed by. Reaching the city’s students is something to work on too.

Big shout out to BBC Radio though who interviewed Holly and Doc before the show, and Who’s Laughing Now?, Animation Forum WM, and Created in Birmingham for the previews. Cheers!

Hyper-criticism aside, everyone seemed to really enjoy the night, we’ve proved to another city how unique Popcorn Comedy is, and we can’t wait to bring an even better Popcorn Comedy night to Birmingham soon!

The next Popcorn Comedy night is at The Roxy Bar & Screen in London on 5 November. Check the website for more details and sign-up for updates here.