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The Animation Pimp

The first in a provocative series (or is it just wild ranting?), Chris Robinson proposes that whether one is a festival director, working animator or studio executive, we are all simply prostitutes.

The Animation Pimp: rambling, provocative (see drunken and idiotic) observations of the animation scene.

Few years back was planning a piece bout (not boot) festival directors bein' pimps. Johns and hoes are interchangeable (e.g. Joe animator is a John looking for a hand-job from a studio and also a ho offering the studio guy/gal themselves as a whore/john, a tidy, quick piece o meat). The whole shaaaaabang of them (whether Russian animators or California buyers) straddle the line. This was about 96 when festivals became a site of decadence.

Figured festivals were/should be galleries, museums, venues for artists to gather and share ideas, work and experiences. I hate galleries and museums. Damn stagnant receptacles for the glorification of the artist as GREAT (WO) MAN. Needless to say these artsy circle jerks didn't attract the public who don't seem to understand the term animation. Should we use Animation Film Festival anyway? Maybe Cartoon Festival is more public friendly. Yeah...International Cartoon Film Festival. The (point) being that the festivals were elitist.

Then Big Bird convinced Siebert that cartoonies could in fact sell coolness and More Tittie Visuals were born. And so began the wallpapering of animation. Festivals changed. Suits started comin'. Students came to find jobs, not ideas cause ideas don't buy Nikes (i.e. coolness). Studios came to show their human side, headhunt, steal new styles (ya ever notice that Rugrats, Duckman and the whole Csupo look borrows a bit from a well known Estonian animator who influenced the Ukes who were lushingly lured to Hollywood?) and wank. Nuttin wrong with that s'long as they payin'.

Same time governments turned right and figured that cartoons weren't no important ding to be payin' for so might as well let da' mouse cover it. Welcome booths.

Ottawa is not so bad I guess because Annecy has whored itself worse than any of us (Roy Disney! Give me a fuggin' break.). But hell, they attract a shitload of people and studios and sponsors so I guess maybe it's a good thing, but I tell you each year I plan the festival's programme with no freakin idea how much money I will have. So maybe I'm just jealous (then again...Europe has more bodies then Canada).

The Ottawa Festival is a crapshoot. We plan the programmes, hire staff, invite programmers and guests but have no clue if we will make enough money. "Yeah," says Terry American, "but you're government supported up dere in your socialist country." A fallacy. Twenty percent of our budget is covered by the government: $24,000 (City of Ottawa), $90,000 (Telefilm Canada), $15,000 (National Film Board of Canada), $4,500 (Region of Ottawa-Carleton). Considering our size, history and importance in North America these numbers are disgusting.

My demonic inner voice, while dropping the kids at the pool, yells, "IF WE WERE IN TORONTO!" Of course, the funny thing is that we work hard to avoid showing cartoons and try to convince people that animation is an art form. This never works and in the end if we simply resorted to showing funny cartoonies we'd be on our attention would flow in every direction. But then where are we? We've got press but it's for all the big companies who are getting it already anyway...the independents and small companies are left in the dark again.

The media doesn't care about Andreas Hykade, Paul Driessen or Raoul Servais. They are more interested in some Ottawa schmuck who is inkin' dogs for some half-butt TV production.


Whining aside, this is an ok job. I make my hours, travel around the world. I write.

Where am I going with this anyway? I think I was more in love with the title and trying to shock people than saying anything relevant or new. This year, Ottawa felt good. We maybe broke even.

Maybe I'm suggesting that the heart and soul of a festival remains in those dark spaces. Don't be fooled by the facades of the suits and the logos. This is just foreplay. The real down and dirty stuff lies within those silent, dark walls which come alive in a sensual play of light and sound that bring pleasure, pain, ecstasy, laughter, insight, shock, guffaws, grunts, groans. Within the shadows these sounds bring you closer to you and those around you. The rest is just whoring. So in the end me and my fellow pimps and pimpettes offer everything for the needy starved festival-goer. If you want quick, no bullshit solo action, we've got booths and rooms for you. If you want more intimate, interactive, in-depth experiences (e.g. group sex?) we've got a nice dark 969 (not shittin ya) seat space for you. And if you just want to talk that's ok too. But no profanity.

Hottie Animator o da Month

Anita Beckman. Australian student, made a beautiful Lenica inspired short Off Ya Trolley.

"The Animation Pimp" is brought to you by AAA Ladies from Shanghai, meeting the sexual needs of the animation community since August 1999.

Chris Robinson is executive director of the Ottawa International Festival and the founder and director of SAFO, the Ottawa International Student Animation Festival. He is also a board member of ASIFA International. Robinson has curated film programs (Los Angeles, Norway, Korea, Holland, Estonia, Singapore, Vietnam and several other places), served on juries (AnimExpo, World Animation Celebration), and written articles on animation for Animation World, FPS, Plateau, Animation Journal and Take One. He prefers writing over cartoons. He also irks a lot of people with his often-inflammatory opinions about many things.

Chris Robinson's picture

A well-known figure in the world of independent animation, writer, author & curator Chris Robinson is the Artistic Director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival.

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