Bill Plympton Talks Kickstarter and His New Feature, Cheatin’
BP: A lot of that was due to Adam Rackoff. He was the guy who managed the campaign. I don’t know how to do Twitter, I don’t know how to do Facebook and all that stuff. He was working it every day, telling people, “Oh you’ve got to tell your friends. This is the coolest film. You’re going to be supporting a great film!”
Another wonderful part of the Kickstarter campaign was connecting with my fans. That was a really important part. Sure they give money and they are very helpful in the production of the film. But, they also spread the word about the film to people who have never heard of Plympton before. And they discover me, they discover my work and now they’re going to support the film when it comes out in movie theatres or when it hits the festival circuit. I also connected up with one guy who wanted to be a financer of the film.
So that was another bonus from the Kickstarter campaign. I got to meet people who had deeper pockets than I did who really wanted to help the production. It’s a wonderful way to avoid the big Hollywood industry system of financing films, where you pitch your ideas and get shot down. After a few pitches you feel like your idea is crap and no one is going to want to support it. This way you go right to the audience. You get positive feedback where everybody feels good and it feels like this is a great, winning film. It’s much different than when you meet with these big executives. They just get so many pitches they really are jaded. They just don’t get excited about many projects, especially a project like mine which has no real normal commercial value.
In Hollywood, it’s computer animation. It’s kiddy films, family films. Cheatin’ is not that. Cheatin’ is the anti-Disney film. It’s 2D, it’s hand drawn, hand colored, a very, very traditional kind of film. Hollywood just doesn’t see an audience for that.
DS: You’ve always taken the independent route, always financed your own work through any and all means. This is a new thing for you, embracing the latest in online social media to put you directly in contact with people that want to see your work and want to support your work. That opens up all sorts of possibilities for you.
BP: Yeah I think it’s a new era for everybody, not just me. I meet so many people who are making their own feature films all by themselves. 20 years ago that was impossible. People would think you’re crazy trying to make an animated feature film by yourself. But now it’s so normal. I think we’re moving into a wonderful era and it’s partly thanks to the Internet, to computer animation, digital media, things like that. It’s almost child’s play now to make an animated film by yourself.
DS: You have always toured relentlessly. As long as we’ve known each other, going on 20 years, when you’re not drawing, you‘re on the road promoting your films, going to festivals, doing masterclasses, speaking at colleges. You’ve always sold your stuff directly but you’ve also worked with various distributors. Where can you make money on an independently distributed animated feature these days? Does Internet distribution factor into your thinking?
BP: Well let me preface this by saying that we still hope Cheatin’ gets a theatrical release. We feel it has a good chance. Not a big release, say in 2000 theatres, but I will be happy with 100 to 200 theatres. We think the film also has a good chance to get in the Oscars because we know that the academy favors films that are different and I think this film has a good shot at it. My name is well known in the Academy so I think this is a good opportunity. Once I finish a film, if I were to release it on the Internet I would be in trouble because I would disqualify myself for the Oscars. So we are pursuing the digital release but will delay it a year or so.
We’ve been talking with the usual suspects like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, even Facebook, places like that. But the online digital world is not really my forte. It’s changing every week. If there’s a new buyer out there, a new distributor out there for digital media, it’s not a decision I’m ready to make yet. I’ll probably be ready this fall to start looking at digital releases of the film.
DS: So what’s the release plan?
BP: The plan is to try and hit Toronto which is early September, Telluride which is also early September and Venice. Those are three of the big ones [festivals] that we want to try and get into the film. If we don’t get in those venues, that’s a good question. Should we try for Ottawa or should we go to a smaller festival or wait for Berlin and Sundance? I don’t know. That’s a tough decision.