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Fred Seibert's Blog

Archive for October, 2006


Fred goes to college.

October 31st, 2006

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Whenever a school asks me to come and speak I go out of my way to try and make it. Next Monday I’ll be in Denver, Colorado, though it’s rare I’m asked outside of our home territories of Los Angeles or New York. It’s my honor to be at the Rocky Mountain School of Art + Design and AIGA Colorado. Then on Wednesday it’s on to CalArts in Valencia, California.
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As some of you might remember I got a boatload of negative comments when I dared to have what I termed an “open source logo competition” for Random! Cartoons last March. One of the private emails I received was from RMCAD. We agreed to disagree but I was thrilled to accept their gracious invitation to meet some of their animation students.

I vividly remember what it was like in college to be a hopeful media student and meeting working professionals from publishing, television, and news. It gave me confidence that it was possible for a son of pharmacists to go into show biz. I hope I can inspire the same optimism to some of the students I’m lucky enough to meet.

Being independent.

October 26th, 2006

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I missed Evan Spiridellis talk at Ottawa this year, but based on pieces in Drawn and Cartoon Brew it was an inspiring talk on being independent in the animation business. No matter what your personal opinion of another studio’s output, it’s always encouraging to hear someone else’s story.

Beating a dead horse.

October 25th, 2006

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To keep on the subject of making your own films and finding your own audience…

Our colleague Dan Meth put up a blog post about his film Hebrew Crunk just about one month ago. The cartoon had 71,000 views in less than a day, over 400,000 in five days. Now its gotten over 600,000.

Dan did the picture for a commercial client, but they wanted his vision; it might as well have been a personal film. However, he picked the venue, and now over 500 people have subscribed to his ‘channel.’ Dan Meth is now a rising star. And it’s completely from his own energy, creativity, and hard work. He didn’t let anyone get in his way. Not his client, not a network, and certainly, not even me. He’s in control of his own destiny.

PS: I don’t usually get so many comments on my posts as I have with this ‘make your own films’ thing. My posts must stay out of controversial (or maybe ‘interesting’) areas. What do you expect from an old guy running the company?

Making it on your own?

October 24th, 2006

I referenced The Show with zefrank in yesterday’s post on Miles Thompson’s thought about making your own shorts (Ze’s one of the smartest guys on the web, a fun, quick view every day). It seems like our blogs are mostly read by Hollywood types, because we rarely get any feedback on the idea of making personal cartoons. I’ve found that Hollywood cartoonists are almost allergic to the idea of making it on their own; there seems to be a culture of depending on studios, producers, networks, and almost anyone but yourself. Ze feels differently (as we do) and even though he’s blogging about live action video blogs, the same thing is really true in cartoons.

Miles gets it.

October 23rd, 2006

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Jeaux Janovsky interviews Miles Thompson on the Channel Frederator Blog earlier today. Miles inadvertently speaks to the point made in my last post and the itch that David Levy and Amid Amidi scratched last week:

“…desktop publishing reached a point years ago where it no longer permits any excuses for not finishing a 7 minute cartoon generated by ONE person at home alone…”

I know it seems like I’m destroying Frederator Studios, but I couldn’t agree more.

(Thanks Miles, thanks Jeaux. Here’s the rest….)

What matters?

October 23rd, 2006

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So an interview with Pat Smith begat a comment from Amid Amidi which begat a comment from ASIFA-East President David Levy which begat much, much more from Amid who asked for comments and got them from a lot of folks, including New York filmmaker Michael Sporn. A nerve has been struck.

Interestingly, very few of the people commenting have ever actually sold a series anywhere, though I must say Ottawa’s Chris Robinson summed up my personal feeling about the whole thing best:

“This obsession animators have with getting a tv series drives me crazy. Why is it your goal to have a tv series? Who said animation has to have regular characters, actors, and narratives? Your mommy?”

I couldn’t agree more. Too many people are interesting in getting their own series rather than making great, commercial, films. Or just great films period. Me, I love commercial TV, always have, so setting that goal works for me. But, you know, I made lots and lots (and lots, I should add) not commercial stuff too, just trying to figure out how to make stuff that I loved. Without that training I wouldn’t have been able to work in cartoons. It just wouldn’t have worked.

All that being said, looking at everyone’s comments, I actually agree with everyone. They’re all right. A rare thing I must say. Go for it folks. Let’s have a few more good arguments in animaiton. Maybe we’ll even get a hit series somewhere on television again someday.

PS: Though it has nothing to do with cartoons our internet friend zefrank makes the point better than almost anyone I think.

Thanks everyone.

October 21st, 2006

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Illustration by Vincent Waller

Having had a number of careers before being lucky enough to get into cartoons, I’ve told all my friends from “before” that the people in animation are the best ever. They proved it again after my involuntary five month hiatus away from California. Eric Homan and Melissa Wolfe gathered up a bunch of our colleagues to give me a ‘get well’ sketchbook. I was overcome when I opened it and saw the insides, and it was all I could do to hold in my emotions.

Thanks doesn’t say it enough to Raul Aguirre and Bill Ho, Bob Boyle, Kyle Carrozza, Jeff DeGrandis, Jaime Diaz, Andrew Dickman, Angelo DiNallo & Jason Plapp, Greg Eagles, Sylvia Edwards, Jun Falkenstein, Mike Gray, Adam Henry, Butch Hartman, Larry & Konnie Kwak, ALex Kirwan, Erik Knutson, Dan Meth, Mike Milo, Adam Muto, Carlos Ramos, Eric Robles, Frank Rocco, Doug TenNapel, Aliki Theofilopoulos, Therese Trujillo, Karl Toerge, Guy Vasilovich, Anne Walker, Vincent Waller, Pen Ward, Dave Wasson, and Niki Yang.

It’s great being in cartoons.

Jeff Jarvis.

October 15th, 2006

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I’d like to introduce you all to media savant Jeff Jarvis, a writer whose work I’ve known for over 25 years, but whom I’ve only met in person this year. He’s a print media pioneer who over the last few years has been one of the most persuasive voices about the world power of citizen journalism that the internet has unleashed upon us all.

Jeff first skirted across my consciousness in the early 80s as the television critic for, of all things, People Magazine. His was an intelligent voice where one wouldn’t have expected it, writing about about a medium only a few of us expected should be written about intelligently. His unique grading system formed the foundation of his creation of Entertainment Weekly, still my favorite mass market media pub.

And then he fell off my personal radar until he popped up again talking everywhere about the pervasive influence each of us would be having on journalism and media. Blogging, video, logo design, you name it, Jeff has expounded upon it on his personal media blog. He’s particularly enjoyable and stimulating because he’ll discuss Howard Stern or the New York Times with equal vigor. And his old media experience and perspective makes his arguments deeply engaging and rewarding.

Check out Jeff Jarvis. He can help you understand what’s going on. I know he helps me almost every day.

PS: I posted about Fred Graver a couple of weeks ago, and now the New York Times has caught up, writing in today’s paper about Fred’s guilty pleasure comedy/news/gossip show Best Week Ever on VH1.

“Where the Women Aren’t”?

October 8th, 2006

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Sometime in June I commented on a blog (what can I say? I was ill.)
So next Thursday I’m on a panel on the subject.

OK, I need to be clearer.

The Animation Guild is the union that represents cartoonists in the Hollywood area and this year they started a blog. Earlier this summer they posted about a study done about why there are fewer women and girls represented in G-Rated films (mainly animated ones). They provoked enough response from the animation community that president Kevin Koch decided on a public panel about the subject.

In addition to moi panelists include actress Geena Davis (she commissioned the survey), Pixar director Brenda Chapman, writer director Dean De Blois, and DreamWorks story artist and (great) blogger Jenny Lerew.

See you there I hope.

Hail Jerry Beck.

October 3rd, 2006

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Jerry Beck and I had lunch up at Ottawa last week, and it reminded me what a treasure he is for America. Cartoons being one of the great art forms our culture had a part in creating, and Jerry being one of those people who helped us fall in love with them all over again. It was years after I read Leonard Maltin’s definitive cartoon book before I realized it was Jerry’s maiden, public voyage into his lifelong obsession, but for me it was just the start of appreciating his unique place in our world.

A few other things we should hail Jerry for, in no particular order:

* Cartoon Research “Dedicated To Classic Cartoons: Past, Present & Future”

* What a library of books he has created!

* The idiosyncratic perspective Jerry and his partner Amid Amidi bring to Cartoon Brew every day.

* Jerry was one of the first people to bring anime to Americans.

* After he brought shorts of all stripes to theatres across the country.

* The monthly vintage cartoons he projects with Janet Klein & Her Parlor Boys classic jazz shows.

* Let’s not forget his Random! Cartoon Hornswiggle!

* The Worst Cartoons Ever.
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Jerry Beck brings his absolute joy of cartoons to all kinds of cartoons from everywhere. His happiness makes us all happier.
Thanks bud.