The Animation Pimp: Myths and Legends
This time Mr. Pimp is giving you the floor to ask about various rumors and legends about the OIAF over the years.
Sylvain Chomet once told a newspaper that he would never submit his films again to Ottawa because his short about Pigeon was rejected in 1996. Is that true?
Red Ruffensore, Middlefart, Denmark
Dear Mr. Ruffensore,
Never understood this one. The Pigeon vs. Old Lady thing – or whatever it was called – was submitted in 1996. First off, I was not in charge of selection in those days. Secondly, the film was unfinished. There was no sound and I believe the animation and coloring wasn’t complete. The committee decided that there wasn’t enough there to make a final decision on the film. It was never rejected and the entrants were encouraged to re-submit the film to OIAF 98.
It was frustrating – hell, it was slander – to see Chomet dissing us in the media (in particular a local paper) years later when he was promoting his bicycle film.
Is it true that Walt Disney was going to pull their sponsorship because you didn’t accept Redux Riding Hood for competition and that you told them to piss off?
Beverly Corn-Swallow, Wagga Wagga, Australia
Dear Dame Corn-Swallow,
This was one that I heard a month ago. I’ve no idea where this rumour came from because… well… again…I wasn’t on the selection committee (we didn’t begin changing the selection process until 2000) and…umm… the film was selected for competition. It was a popular film around our office. How that story got turned into this convoluted tale of rejection and hostilities is bizarre. We’ve always had a great relationship with Disney.
Why did you reject Alexander Petrov’s The Old Man and the Sea and was there a fall out from that?
Mike Rotch, Dead Chinaman, Papua New Guinea
Dear Mr. Rotch,
I didn’t reject the film. It was placed into the Canadian Showcase program. The producer felt that was insulting. He explained that the film had won the Oscar and the Grand Prix at Annecy and that Ottawa was seen at the fairy tale ending for the film (which was produced in Canada for this Ernest Hemingway centenary).
Unfortunately, neither my colleagues nor I felt the film was that good. Yes, the oil paint technique was amazing, but the look and tone and adaptation were, frankly, tepid. The film comes off as kitsch, as a nice wall ornament for my Aunt Bumble’s wall. It’s beautiful to look at, but that’s about it.
Still, as I said, we did not reject the film from being screened. It was the producer who withdrew the film.
Did you leave the festival’s longstanding ‘home’ at the National Arts Centre because of money problems?
Hugh G Rection, Penistone, UK
Dear Master Rection,
Thank you for your question. Money was not an impetus behind us leaving the NAC. It was a series of complicated issues. In 2004, they removed the projection equipment from the theatre we had occupied for years. For a few years we made do with splitting our main venues between the Bytowne Cinema and the NAC Southam Hall (contains about 2000 seats, a bit large for us). This worked for a few years until we found it virtually impossible to get the dates we needed from the NAC (they have events going on year-round). We finally decided to use the Bytowne as our main venue (and I love their cinema and atmosphere. It’s a casual style that suits our character. Plus, their projection quality is outstanding.) and add new venues (e.g. Arts Court Theatre, Museum of Civilization).
There is good news though. We will be back at the NAC for weekends starting this year.
I heard from some drunk animators in Montreal that you caused the NFB to fire their last remaining salaried directors.
Savannah Pooter, Dildo, Newfoundland, Canada
Dear Miss Pooter,
I heard this rumour a few years ago too.
There was a time when I was pretty vocal in public and the media about the state of the NFB. I remember feeling that they were producing safe and p.c. films and that they had full time salaried animators who had clearly become too cozy. I felt that the NFB would be better served by bringing in emerging artists with fresh ideas.
In 2004 – I believe – the NFB announced that they were letting go of their five or so remaining salaried animation directors. It made sense in some ways. It was costly to keep directors on full time and those resources and money could go towards bringing in emerging animators – who’d previously been overlooked by the NFB or who were simply intimidated by the process of submitting their work.
Looking back, it was the right decision. The NFB has been putting out some incredible work in the last ten years. New artists have emerged like Theodore Ushev, Elise Simard, Nicholas Brault, etc…
But, come on, do you really think I have such power and influence? I can’t even get my dogs to stop crapping on the floor. These are the bitter ramblings of delusional animators. It’s much easier to find someone to blame rather than look yourself in the mirror and maybe admit that your work was about as edgy and relevant as Jay Leno’s comedy.