Jun 11

Au revoir Annecy

I returned home from the Annecy 2012 animation festival yesterday. I survived it. What a fantastic few days. A beautiful location filled with people who love animation, love films, love cartoons, love art… filled with people who love. Could you ask for anything better?

One of the things that makes Annecy special is that it attracts people at all stages in their careers – students just getting started, veterans of the industry who have been making films for over 50 years and everyone in between, all mixing together and sharing enthusiasm and information. The old-timers can offer wisdom, stories and advice in both business and creativity. The new generations can invigorate with passion, fresh eyes and a new approach untainted by cynicism or even just bad habits.

For those of us doing this animation thing for any length of time, that passion can be hard to hold on to sometimes.

I was wandering around the book shop in the Bonlieu in Annecy, a great shop filled full of art books and comics, and just leafing through the pages I found myself taken right back to why I was drawn to this medium so many years ago – the variety, the lack of restrictions, the strength, the artistry. Of course, I love much more than just the medium when making children’s entertainment. For me, it’s about giving something meaningful to children. Nevertheless, it is with animation that I choose to do that and for very good reasons. Animation really is a wonderful medium. It truly is. It creates life.

Annecy is a celebration of that.

Sometimes, whether through a festival like Annecy or other ways, it’s important to take ourselves back a bit. Important to remind ourselves why we love particular elements of what we do. It is too easy to lose sight of our passions when it all becomes a business or career.

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So how was my Annecy?

Well, really interesting and varied. The Irish were out in force and it was great hanging out with everyone from the different studios, something all too rare at home. I got to spend a lot of time with a veteran I have huge respect for, Jimmy Murakami, director of When The Wind Blows. I love hearing Jimmy’s stories. He’s a unique treasure. I finally met some people in person for the first time who I know through twitter or have known and loved their work. Found myself inspired by students and really enjoyed their company – the next generation of animators. I got to meet Peter Lord (yay!). I had some meetings over at the MIFA market end which went really well. Met some really interesting people there with some new, different ideas. Looking forward to building on some business relationships from that. I ate cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. And while having lunch with the Brown Bag Films crew (who are fantastic by the way), I got to eat the biggest burger I have ever seen:

And the Irish celebration, well that was far bigger and more successful than I could have imagined. The Bonlieu was decorated with the Irish flag colours and the 40 Frames of Green programmes went down really well and had people talking about so many Irish short films. The networking wine reception was a success and, introduced by James Hickey of the Irish Film Board, Tomm Moore gave a beautiful speech about story which brought us all right back to our childhoods and inspired us all. Tomm rocks.

And then there was the Irish party. Organised by us at the Screen Directors Guild of Ireland along with Animation Ireland, we got set up before 8pm and wondered if anyone would turn up. Well we didn’t just get anyone. We got everyone. It was jammed full of animation folk from all over the world and some real heavy hitters. Top people, animators, directors, producers, broadcasters, distributors all just enjoying the company and getting to know each other. It couldn’t have gone better.

I’m hoping it will become an annual event.

So well done to everyone at the SDGI and Animation Ireland for making that happen, especially Steve Woods, Birch Hamilton and Gary Timpson who worked so hard on it. Thanks to everyone who spread the word and everyone who attended. I really hope you enjoyed it. I know I did. Even that nightclub after…

Lastly, I took part in the pedalo boat race with some students from IADT. We came third last and I got soaked when the boat was bumped right under a fountain but this is the important part – it was fun. It was fun and I almost didn’t have a go. I was reluctant but was nudged by Steve Woods (thanks Steve!) and it was great fun. Of course it would be. It left me wondering where the reluctance came from… maybe I’ve been feeling old recently.

Note to self: have more fun.

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