Surviving in the World of Independent Film & Video

Many people are surprised that I'm able to make a living and finance my features and short films and yet still remain an independent filmmaker. There are many markets for my animation and there seem to be more every week. If you are looking for ways to get your material shown and further your recognition, these are some of the outlets I have found useful.

1. THEATRICAL Fortunately, there are a number of theatrical venues for animated shorts. Spike & Mike's Festival of Animation and their Sick & Twisted Show are two of the most famous. Also, there are a bunch of theaters that still show shorts before the main features, and pay for them.

2. NON-THEATRICAL Colleges, libraries, museums, and even corporations are hungry for short films. A new venue I am now exploring is appearing at comedy clubs, such as Caroline's, who have been experimenting with showing funny shorts - it's been very successful. Contact Louis Feranda at Caroline's - 212-956-0101 x220.

3. TELEVISION A number of channels are now utilizing animated shorts - Disney, of course, as well as the Cartoon Network, the Comedy Channel, Nickelodeon and MTV. Contact Abby Terkuhle at MTV - 212-258-8790. Bravo, the Independent Film Channel and the Sundance Channel are becoming very involved in short films as well.

4. HOME VIDEO This is one of my biggest money makers. I paid about $4,000.00 to put together "Plymptoons", my video-cassette collection, and already I've made that money back 10 times over. It's sold or rented in all the big video stores - Blockbuster, Tower, but I particularly like the smaller independent video outlets, like Kim's Video in New York.

5. FOREIGN SALES My films have done very well overseas, especially in Europe, because the humor is visual rather than verbal. Often there are no words at all in the films, which gives them a timeless quality. The TV stations I particularly like are Canal + in France and Spain, BBC Channel 4 in England, and Arte in Germany. For foreign sales, contact my agent, Guiliana Nicodemi at Italtoons - 212-730-0280.

6. COMMERCIALS I've only recently become involved in doing T.V. ads, and I find they are a great way to make a lot of money fast. My commercial agent is wonderful - he's Ron Diamond at ACME Filmworks - 323-464-7805.

7. MERCHANDISE This is a new aspect to my career. I do sell my original cels, and of course my Plymptoon cassettes, and now I am developing T-shirts, hats, comic books, and posters.

I believe the two most important qualities to become a success in making short or even long films is to make them funny and produce them cheaply. Most of my films cost about $1,000.00 per minute, so it's fairly easy to recoup my costs.

It's very important to me to remain independent. There's something exhilarating about getting up each morning, going to my drawing board and having the total freedom to draw whatever crazy, bizarre and offensive image that comes to my brain - there's no producer, director, lawyer or agent looking over my shoulder telling me to change the art because it might offend someone or hurt sales.

Sure, I'm not a wealthy cartoonist but I'm willing to sacrifice money for freedom of expression any time. So, that's why it's so important that I promote my merchandise. It's a wonderful way to disseminate my bizarre ideas through different media and more importantly, it helps finance my future productions.

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Last Updated October 2000

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