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NYCC 2008: Bill Plympton Showcases "Idiots & Angels" and "Hot Dog"

by on April 20, 2008

Bill Plympton -- weird storytellerOne of Saturday’s last panels was with independent animator Bill Plympton. The panel opened with the announcement that Plympton was named one of the 85 weirdest storytellers of the past 85 years by Weird Tales magazine. Editor Stephen Segal was on hand to make the announcement and hand over the award to Plympton, who was one of very few animators to make the list (which also included Terry Gilliam, Tim Burton, and Osamu Tezuka).

The majority of the panel was taken up by Plympton showing off his latest work to the attendees. The first was a trailer he did for the Bonnaroo music festival, which incorporated a variety of musical styles and matched them with strange and psychedelic imagery.

The next video shown was the first 15 minutes or so of Plympton’s newest movie, Idiots and Angels, about a selfish jerk who suddenly begins growing angel’s wings out of his back and starts doing good things. Plympton said that he animated the entire movie using pencil on paper, with the individual drawings being composited digitally to form the finished film. The final results are incredibly intimate, with Plympton’s pencil line coming to vibrant life on the screen. As always, Plympton’s quirky pacing and bizarre storytelling elements are perfectly suited for animation, and also provides a wonderfully textured, chiaroscuro feeling that Plympton himself really loves. He added that animating pencil-on-paper is incredibly fast, easy, and cheap, and great to look at, and that he will keep working with it in the future. He also appreciated that he could just erase mistakes, even if sometimes the mistake turned out to be better in the end. Idiots and Angels will debut at the Tribeca Film Festival next weekend, and the website for the movie just went live recently with a trailer, with more video clips and behind-the-scenes material coming soon.

Plympton did tell the audience to head out in force for Idiots and Angels at the Tribeca festival, since the $150,000 budget for the movie came entirely out of his own pocket, and he’s hoping that a distributor will pick up the film if it gets a positive reaction at the festival. He joked to the audience that he ought to “take you to all my screenings,” and wished a distributor was at the panel that night, since the audience reaction to his work meant he might have been able to sign a distributor right there.

The next film shown was the world premiere of his latest short film “Hot Dog,” the third film starring Plympton’s fan-favorite dog from “Guard Dog” and “Guide Dog.” In this movie, the Dog tries getting a job as a firehouse dog, with the expected mayhem ensuing. He’s currently negotiating with the Animation Show to add it to their next lineup, so hopefully the film will be screening in New York City soon. When asked why he keeps going back to the Dog character, Plympton said that he thinks of the Dog like his Mickey Mouse. The first film was nominated for an Oscar, but even before then, people kept asking for more films about the Dog. He said that the next film is already under way (“Horny Dog,” where the Dog falls in love), and that he has more ideas. He’d like to do one Dog film per year, which should be feasible as long as there are ideas since Hot Dog took about one month to draw, one month for his studio to animate, and then another week for music and post-production.

Idiots and Angels will screen at the Tribeca Film Festival at the following times:

Saturday, April 26 5:30 PM (AMC 19th St. East)
Sunday, April 27 9:30 PM (Village East Cinemas)
Wednesday, April 30, 11:00 PM (AMC Village VII)
Saturday, May 3, 8:00 PM (Village East Cinemas)

For tickets, call 646-502-5296 or visit the festival home page at www.tribecafilmfestival.org.

(Return to Toon Zone’s New York Comic Con 2008 Complete Coverage)

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