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Editor's Notebook

The inventiveness of independents...

Heather Kenyon

One thing has become clear while working on this issue. In order to be independent, one must not only have the ability to be amazingly creative in an artistic sense but also in an entrepreneurial sense. Independents are being forced to be more creative in the financing of their visions as funding from various sources becomes more scarce. In this world it isn't enough to have a unique vision and execute it, you first have to find a way to finance it.

Independent filmmakers worldwide work on commercials, music videos, CD-Roms, you name it, in order to raise funds. We see in Andrea Martignoni's "Italian Independent Animators," Marie Beardmore's "Eating and Animating: Balancing the Basics for U.K. Independents," and the survey "Balancing Commercials and Personal Work: Three Directors Speak," how independents utilize commercial work to support their own projects. Once again, a magazine issue of seemingly polar opposites has come full circle. It is ironic that quite a few independent film makers create advertisements for companies and their products in order to do "their own thing." It takes conviction and drive for anyone to make a film. However, when funding, equipment and facilities are low it takes even more. I think we'd all like to thank these often uncelebrated people who work for hours in their garages, basements and kitchens on personal wonders. It is too sad that often the only place to see these pieces is at animation festivals, the cornerstones of artistic animation. If these filmmakers only knew how grateful we were for all those times we sat in the dark, with goose bumps, because of their tenacity, diligence and vision.

The other big newz in this issue is Antz, DreamWorks Pictures and PDI's first and much awaited animated feature film. This film kicks off the first of four major animated theatrical features being released from now through the end of the year. The other three are naturally, The Rugrats Movie, A Bug's Life and The Prince of Egypt. As was the case with Anastasia, everyone is waiting to see Antz and make a verdict, not only about DreamWorks and PDI's bid at the animation big time, but also the fate of feature animation units as a whole. I find it interesting that while the technique is as far away from traditional cels as possible, the story still revolves around a princess! Granted she isn't in a castle, etc, but I guess some old traditions and habits are hard to break. Still I think we are all ready to see the animated feature break away from the typical fairy tale mold and Antz is well on the way to doing just that. Animation as a filmmaking technique should not determine the content of the story. Imagine if live-action films could only be one genre! If these four animated films succeed individually based on originality and story, then there is hope for us all. I think it will be wonderful to break the animated feature out of the typical Disney mold and into some fresh ideas. Animation prides itself on being a medium where anything can happen. So come on folks, make anything happen!

Until Next Time, Heather