Golden Books Family Entertainment has signed a deal with animation production company Varga tvc Ltd. (formed last year between Hungarian Varga Studios and TVC London) to produce animated video specials based on the Golden Books titles: "The Poky Little Puppy," "Saggy Baggy Elephant" and "Scuffy the Tugboat." The three videos will be available by Spring 1999. All animation production will take place at Varga tvc's London studio, with a production team that includes writer Bruce Talkington, creative director Dave Unwin and director Ramon Modiano.
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Czech production and distribution company Kratky Film Praha a.s., which owns the Bratri v triku and Jiri Trnka animation studios, has been substantially restructured. The company has been struggling financially since 1994, and has been facing possible bankruptcy since 1997, a measure prevented by a recent investment from insurance company Ceska Pojistovna, now the majority shareholder in Kratky Film. The restructuring has also caused a management shake-out.
Santa Monica, California-based Epoch Ink Animation and Phoenix, Arizona-based Todd McFarlane Entertainment collaborated on a fully-animated music video for Pearl Jam's song "Do the Evolution." The four-minute video was produced in just 12 weeks with a budget of U.S. $220,000.
Recycling is alive and well in Hollywood. An astounding number of animation properties are being optioned for adaptation as live-action films, such as "Inspector Gadget" and "Sailor Moon." This week, two more such deals have been announced. "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," a book by Dr. Seuss and then an animated feature directed by Chuck Jones at MGM, will have its next reincarnation as a live-action feature starring Jim Carrey. Universal, which already owns the theme park rights to Dr. Seuss properties, and Ron Howard's Imagine Films paid Dr. Seuss' widow Audrey Geisel nearly U.S.
Animation director CHRIS BAILEY has joined the full-time staff of DREAM QUEST IMAGES, the effects studio owned by Disney.
MARIE-LINE PETREQUIN will leave ProSieben and join another German company, IGELFILM as managing director of animation and development in the area of production/co-production of animation. She was previously vice president and head of the animation department at ProSieben Media AG, where she has worked since 1990.
The Independent Feature Project (IFP) and the Independent Film Channel (IFC) have announced the winners of their first student film competition, IFC2000. The U.S. $2,500 "Outstanding Achievement in Animation" prize has been awarded to "Hisao" by Masahiro Sugano, a student from the University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Art & Design.
The National Film Board of Canada (NFBC) has entered into a license agreement with Los Angeles-based producer Jean Madar to develop new TV series and films based on a collection of popular animated shorts from its library. Madar, a Montreal native whose background includes work with Pixibox and Medialab, will use the animated shorts as ready-made pilots for new projects. He has grouped the NFBC films into four collections: "Kids" for children's animation, "Tunes" for musical shorts, "Crazy" for more adult-oriented films, and "Insane" for late-night fare.
BLUE SKY | VIFXs Harrison, New York studio has promoted JOHN DONKIN to managing technical director. He joined the company as senior technical director earlier this year after serving as a director of animation/studio manager for Lamb & Company (Minneapolis, MN).
Palo Alto, California-based PACIFIC DATA IMAGES (PDI) has hired PAUL COOK as corporate controller, a role in which he will report to CFO John Batter and be responsible for implementing internal financial controls. Cook was previously corporate accounting manager at Adobe Systems.
Animator Mark Osborne is wrapping up production on a new short film. Titled More, the film is believed to be the first stop-motion animated large-format film. It is being shot on 65mm film that will be printed on 70mm for projection in large-format cinemas such as the IMAX chains. The film, a co-production of Swell Productions and Bad Clams Productions, is being funded by a private investor, was shown in trailer form at last weeks International Space Theater Consortium conference in Australia.
As of this Sunday, The Simpsons will become the longest-running sitcom currently on television. Creator and executive producer Matt Groening said he is surprised the show has gone on this long, but, he added, The real surprise is that this coming season is as good as any we've ever done. The writers, led by executive producer Mike Scully, are fantastic. They get the characters and they are creating original stories that don't repeat what we've done or anything else I've seen on television. Audience: you be the judge!
On October 29, 30 and 31, 1998, the Los Angeles-based art gallery and book store, Storyopolis will host English Soup, a performance featuring six actors and a cast of hand-made puppets, devised and directed by Edward Gorey, followed by Dramatis Artifacti, a one-month exhibition of original art work and ephemera by the artist.
* Thursday, September 17. Burbank, California, U.S.A.
Women In Animations Writers Group will meet at ASIFA-Hollywoods Animation Center. This months topic is Copyright and Trademark: Protecting Your Idea, with speaker Ronda Dixon, entertainment lawyer and creator of the animated show Hip House. Admission is $10 for WIA L.A. members, $20 for non-members. Call (818)842-8330 or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Saturday, September 19. Northampton, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
The Words & Pictures Museum hosts an appearance and book signing by its founder, Kevin Eastman, co-creator of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The event kicks off at 10:30 a.m. with a members-only discussion and exhibit tour. For information visit www.wordsandpictures.org.
* Friday, September 18 -Sunday, September 20. Iowa City, Iowa, U.S.A.
Anime Iowa, a convention for fans of Japanese animation, takes place at the Radisson Highlander Inn. For information visit http://omocha.shc.uiowa.edu/animeiowa.
Every year since 1991, the organization CARTOON, with the support of the MEDIA program of the European Union, selects one short European animated film as the Cartoon DOr, or best European animation film. Nominees are selected from the list of top prize-winning and recommended films from participating European animation festivals: Annecy, Brussels, Cardiff, Espinho, Stuttgart, Utrecht and, new this year, Oslo. The director of the Cartoon DOr winning film will receive 25,000 ECU (approximately U.S. $25,000) to spend on a new animation project.
The second Los Angeles International Short Film Festival, held September 11-13, selected Mike Johnsons stop-motion music video The Devil Went Down to Georgia as Best Animation Film. It competed with 12 other animated films in the festival. For information about the festival and the next call for entries, visit www.lashortsfest.com.
U.K.-headquartered CAMBRIDGE ANIMATION SYSTEMS, creators of Animo 2D animation software, named TOM CARRIGAN director of international sales. He will be based in the U.K. Carrigan has previously held sales positions with Softimage and Toon Boom Technologies.
MEDIAPEGS, creators of PEGS 2D animation software, has named FRANCE LÉTANG director of sales & marketing for Europe. She will be based in Paris and report to vice president Paul Marcot in Los Angeles. Létang previously worked at Saban International Services.
CURIOUS PICTURES San Francisco studio has signed Dutch director JERRY VAN DE BEEK to its roster. Van de Beek has worked with (Colossal) Pictures (San Francisco), Condor Video (Amsterdam) and The Moving Picture Company (London). He specializes in combining CG and cel animation. In 1996, he co-founded, with Betsy de Fries, the animation and design firm, Little Fluffy Clouds, which will continue operating in San Francisco.
New York-based animation/live-action studio PITCH, INC. signed London-based director/animator DAVID FREEDMAN to its new commercial division. His background includes directing, writing, agency work and stand-up comedy. Plus, with his writing partner, Alan Gilbey, he is currently writing an animated series, The Foxbusters. Pitchs commercial division is represented by KELLY FLINT, who joined the new company from Curious Pictures, where she worked with Pitch co-founders RUSS DUBE, CHRIS GILLIGAN and STEVE KATZ.
GREG PAIR has completed an eight-month stint as animation supervisor on MTVs stop-motion show Celebrity Death Match. He is returning to the studio he is a partner in, AMPNYC, to direct and produce stop-motion commercial work.
Animation educator Gail Banker died of a stroke on Sunday, September 13, the day after her 60th birthday. For the past 13 years, she taught animation to children and adults in the New England area: as an instructor at Hanover High School in Hanover, New Hampshire; as a counselor at the Charles River Creative Arts Program in Dover, Massachusetts; and as founder of Single-Frame Studio in Norwich, Vermont, where she ran weekly animation workshops for children. She also taught adult animation classes at her studio and through various continuing education programs.
U.S. network NBC aired only three episodes of the prime-time animated series Stressed Eric before pulling it off the air due to disappointing ratings (Nielsen average 4.8). The show, produced with British broadcaster BBC by Klasky Csupo and Absolutely Productions, had been specially dubbed with a new voice track for American viewers, and was slated to air for six episodes through the end of the summer season.