Also, take the time to visit www.elliotelliotelliot.com

Monday, April 27, 2015

Fare Thee Well...

Dear excellent young people.

I have some good news and some bad news.

I’ll give you the bad news first.
Not everyone here is going to have a long and/or lasting career in commercial animation.

That’s all the bad news I have for you.

Here’s the good news.
That’s ok.
It’s really ok, I promise.
If you don’t direct a commercial or create a pilot for Nickelodeon or design the next iteration of Mickey Mouse you are letting down nobody.
Not yourself, not your parents and, if it is a concern, not me either.
To paraphrase comedian Marc Maron "Animation is not your parents".
You don't need to seek it's approval.
You have no expectations to live up to.
It's not going to pat you on the back and say "Well done, kid".
Occasionally it might take you out for icecream but that's it.

I never really outwardly lectured on this or even vocalized it specifically, but if there’s one thing that all my grumbling and eye rolling and “Why the hell are you watching that?” has been about is that there’s more to this artform than the stuff they shove at you on TV and the multiplexes.
The thing you can do if you’re not working commercially is to continue to make stuff.
Contribute to the story of animation.
The collective voice.
The collective voice is much louder and more important than any single commercial project (which in themselves are part of the collective voice).
Make things and let people see them, either via the internet or festivals or whatever other platform the world has yet to offer you.
Make things to be discovered by an audience.
Make things that other young people will see and think “Oh. I love that. I want to make animation”.
And support the medium by supporting others who make things.
Yes. Go see Toy Story 7 and 8 and 9.
Fine. I’ll probably end up seeing them too.
You’ll see me bitching about it on Facebook.
But never forget to go see whatever Amanda Bautista is doing, or Tomm Moore is doing or, if you’re not already sick to death of me, what I’m doing.
Try and get to the Ottawa Animation Festival or ANY animation festival. Even if you don't have a film playing.
The only way you’re going to let anyone down is to dry up and become inert.

If you're feeling miserable about the whole thing then go watch the Wayne White documentary and you'll be good again soon enough.

So that’s my thing.
Whatever you become and wherever you go please be sure to remember that you are all excellent human beings.
It has been a pleasure taking this journey with you.
Please stay in touch.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Monday, March 30, 2015

Thanks Dad!

My dad, who's way better than all your dads, must have seen this post about an out of print series of children's books I loved as a kid.
Well using the power of the internet dad went and found them all.
Thanks Dad!
You're the best!










Sunday, March 29, 2015

Next!

One of the frustrating things about adjuncting is that it's particularly hard to attend nice arty things, like screenings of my film.
B&R played in Athens a few hours back and of course I'd love to visit Greece.
But it's really, REALLY frustrating when the screenings are in your own back yard and I can't make it.
The Crossroads Film Festival in Jackson, Mississippi looks like a hoot and it's maddening to not attend.
I hope they dig it there when it plays in a few weeks.
‪#‎XFF15‬
http://www.crossroadsfilmfestival.com/


Monday, March 23, 2015

Monday, March 09, 2015

B&R Feature News

The Boxhead and Roundhead feature has been screening all over the place.
I keep forgetting to mention it on this neglected blog.

Feb 24-Mar 01 Carbondale, Illinois



Mar 18-22 Utrecht, Holland
Holland Animation Film Festival


Mar 22-24 Karlsruhe, Germany
Independent Days Film Festival 


Mar 26-Apr 01 Athens, Greece
Athens Animfest


It's also playing at the upcoming Crossroads Film Festival in Jackson Mississippi

Also...
Here's a lovely review from Charles Kenny.
He was also kind enough to mistake me for a driven, ambitious film maker here.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Bottersnikes and Gumbles again

Bottersnikes and Gumbles was a series of books by Australian author S.A. Wakefield and illustrated by Desmond Digby.
I was crazy for them when I was a kid.
Sadly they're out of print and can only be found on Ebay for exorbitant prices.
Digby's illustrations were very influential on me as a kid but you probably won't see it much in my work.
The series revolved around a group of creatures called the Bottersnikes, the bad guys and the Gumbles, the good guys.
The Gumbles are kind of like Australian Wombles and I wonder now if that was on purpose.
The whole thing is set in the Australian bush.
I was always particularly taken by the colour plates.
Very painterly.
I wish I had them onhand to scan instead of having to pick from the internet.
Enjoy...

















Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Badoink Interview

You can go to Badoink to look at pictures of hot girls OR you can go to Badoink and read an interview with me.
OR both!

http://www.badoink.com/life/interviews/interview-elliot-cowan-illustrator-animator-and-filmmaker/

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Song Of The Sea

So last night I finally got to see Song of the Sea, the latest animated feature from the clever folks at Cartoon Saloon (Kilkenny, Ireland).


I'll admit that I'm pals with the director, Tomm Moore, and that I was asked to give some notes on an early pass of the animatic.
So I'm a little biased.

But regardless, it's really good.  Really, REALLY good.

It's touching and sweet and moving.

Animators will find a mountain of lovely design and straight forward storytelling and civilians will appreciate the honest tale of a family suffering from grief and loss.

This is not to say that the film is inappropriate for young children, the deeper issues are approached with sensitivity.

This is all mixed with the supernatural/folkloric elements native to Ireland which gives the whole thing a time and place. 

It's exactly the kind of small film that we don't see enough of (especially in the US) and if enough folks give it some love then we'll see some more.
Not just from Tomm, but from folks all over the world who have small, personal tales to tell through the medium of animation.

As I say, I'm biased.
I love the film and I love that it's a smaller film.
Anything else you need to know about it you'll sure to find on the Facebook page.
Please go and see it whenever you can.


Friday, December 05, 2014

Strangebeard

Terry Gilliam made a film I love called "Time Bandits".
He described it as a film that children would enjoy and adults wouldn't be embarrassed to see, which it is, but it's more than that.
Which is the best introduction I can think of to encourage you all to seek out Strangebeard by the excellent Canadian, Kelly Tindall.

Strangebeard details the adventures of Jenny Brigham who on her 12th birthday discovers that she's the reincarnation of the legendary pirate, Augustus Strangebeard.
This supernatural inheritance imbibes her with a number of powers that are more fun to read about in the comic than to have me tell you.
She's joined on her adventures by Sluggo Sealock, a kind of Tintinish Captain Haddock, and her Boston Terrier, Lemmy.
The villain of the piece of Memoria Morder, one of the Pirate Masters.

Kelly has drawn the whole business in a very accessible hand that is appealing to young readers but is sophisticated enough in it's storytelling to engage all ages (like Time Bandits, children will enjoy it and adults won't be embarrassed to read it).

My four year old leapt onto it and pored over it for a good 40 minutes but it's intended for older children, really.
It is easy to imagine parents reading the book with the kids and in that it serves as a great introduction to the comic form.

It's noteworthy that the lead character is a young girl as we don't see enough interesting woman characters in popular books and film.
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to everyone but I think parents with girls should have it on the bedtime roster as soon as possible.

A good chunk of the book is available online but you can buy a paperback copy here and then there's a good chance you could infect your child with the spirit of the book and then maybe one day they'll make their own Strangebeard and the world will be a jollier place because of it.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Review From Will Finn

So I was lucky enough to get The Stressful Adventures of Boxhead & Roundhead in front of the eyes of bone fide hotshot animator and director Will Finn.
Will really did "get" what I was trying to do with the film which is a real thrill.
He wrote a few smaller reviews on the Facebooky and we corresponded at length about it via email.
With his permission I've edited his thoughts together into something longer and more cohesive.
Thanks again Will, it means a lot!

The Stressful Adventures of Boxhead & Roundhead

Yesterday I was lucky enough to contrive a viewing of Elliot Cowan’s feature film THE STRESSFUL ADVENTURES OF BOXHEAD & ROUNDHEAD, based on his sparse, darkly slapstick YouTube series. I flat out loved it. In a peak season of highly competitive and remarkably different animated movies, this one sets itself apart through it’s stunning graphic simplicity and organic, individually expressed story and characterization. I’m torn between wishing there were more films like it and wanting it to remain in its own special category. The movie is currently in theaters in Romania and the sooner it can reach screens here the better for everybody.

It’s coherent and entertaining but it doesn’t depend on formula. 

I love that it takes place in a world that feels absolutely real and beautifully designed but not in the typically groomed and regurgitated manner even the best stuff is done in now. 

I also loved that the dialog in the film felt like conversation. It’s rare in any kind of movie when I hear dialog that sounds like real speech. This movie has that.

It’s also rare in movies when something doesn’t feel overworked and massaged to a fare-thee-well, even in movies that are tolerably good. Again, simplicity and minimalism has an appeal I can’t resist. I always say the less you are doing, the more you can make everything count. I think my favorite standup comedians exemplify this; Louis CK, Doug Stanhope, Larry David etc. 

However he achieved it, there is very individualized energy in all the character animation and even the camera moves. The emotional reality of the guys is palpable without feeling cloying. 

The unexpected and absurd twists in the story are also a welcome change from the usual “beat board” approach.  

That he did this on a shoestring, without a set schedule and when it was done it was done. That takes courage, stamina, focus, and imagination.  Four things we all need more of. 


Elliot does the feature medium proud with his intensely engaging minimalism and dark comedy. The graphics are stark and stunning, the characters are indelibly etched and the storyline blends wild action with scenes of absurdity, mystery and even terror. If there isn't a clamor yet to get this movie into the film-fest and art-house circuit, I am going to start one!

Friday, October 24, 2014

ReAnimania, Yerevan International Animation Film Festival

For those of you in Armenia, B&R will be playing at ReAnimania on October 27 at 11am and 7pm.
Enjoy!















Screenings continue in Romania where the run seems to have been extended.




Saturday, October 04, 2014

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Chicken

Recently I did some work for the superstars at Nathan Love.

I was responsible (with some other top folks) for the family shots at the end of each commercial.

Perdue "Never Imported" from Nathan Love on Vimeo.

Perdue "Getting Fresh" from Nathan Love on Vimeo.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Review time!

Another review of the Boxhead & Roundhead feature, from international animation supertar, Nancy Beiman.

Thanks Nancy B!

 
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