by Jon Bosworth
Animation has almost nothing to do with kids anymore. If you hadn’t realized this already, you’re probably a late bloomer. Those who didn’t learn this from America’s favorite family, the Simpsons, surely figured it out by the time they were sitting in the theaters watching Avatar. What is real in film and what isn’t anymore’ Who cares!
Few people in Jacksonville understand how the world of animation is changing as well as Shane Douberly and William Waller. As owners of Dripsblack, a local company specializing in animation and generating visual spectacles unlike anything even the most deft of filmmakers could organically achieve, they have their eyes on a burgeoning animation scene that doesn’t show its head too frequently in Jacksonville. If you need your jaw dropped for you, just go to www.dripsblack.com and watch their reel. You’ll be surprised these guys are right here in the River City. But the work that has driven them has come predominantly from outside of our fair city. They aren’t keeping that work secret, they want you to see it.
Jacksonville has been fervently cultivating an independent film community over the past five to eight years, through the Jacksonville Film Events (including the annual Jacksonville Film Festival and their new off-season programs), a handful of passionate cinephiles and filmmakers who have taken their love and made the effort to bring their productions to screens in 5 Points, monthly Art Walks, or anyplace that will spare them a piece of wall upon which to project, to new facilities willing to include local films in their programming at local galleries and theaters. This grassroots effort is producing terrific energy in town, but it isn’t putting Jacksonville on the map as far as quality is concerned. Dripsblack, on the other hand, is producing a caliber of work that can compete in the larger marketplace. Shane and William hope to help ebb Jacksonville’s trend toward mediocrity by embracing the future and producing the first ever Citrus Cel Animation Film Festival.
This animated film festival is not part of the JFF, even though many of the events are taking place in the same location (5 Points Theatre), Shane insisted on making this debut event independently of any other organization to make sure it is done according to his and William’s standards. He does not rule out a partnership in the future, but for now the more entities supporting bringing new and innovative film programs to our town the better. When I sat down with Shane for a sneak preview of some of the featured films, he dug through a table full of submissions. They’ve had no shortage of interest from the international animation community, as well as students at the School of Visual Arts Manhattan (Shane’s alma mater), Ringling College of Art and Design, Savannah College of Art and Design, Full Sail, JU, UNF, and the Art Institute at Jacksonville.
“Seeing all these submissions and the camaraderie within schools and the design and art community has been really exciting. I’m tired of people saying there’s no culture here. Don’t talk about it, lobby to make it happen. Seeing this thing shape and form into something that will be a fun and interesting event featuring compelling and stunning work; I could sit and watch this sort of programming all day long. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m disgusted with hearing people complain. It’s up to us as artists and individuals to build our culture and our community,” Shane says as he digs for the animated short called Alma, a delightful, albeit a bit dark, film made by Pixar animator Rodrigo Blaas. He went on to show me film after film of incredible work with superior stories, amazing visual qualities, and innovative ideas.
Unlike the above mentioned film activities, the Citrus Cel Animation Film Festival will not necessarily feature local talent. Shane says he wants local people to see the caliber of work being done in the rest of the country so our creative people can strive to rise to higher standards.
“The event has always been to celebrate animation and illustration, for me, and the design within it,” says Shane of the impetus for the overall event.
He isn’t seeking out the best local animated films, but the best animated films. These productions would not otherwise show in Jacksonville. They are off to a strong start. In addition to films and projects made by leaders in the industry, Pixar, Dreamworks, Titmouse, and many international entries, they have also confirmed oscar-winning animator Bill Plympton’s participation. Rumor has it that Plympton will be premiering a new film at the event.
All screenings will take place between April 9th and 11th at the 5 Points Theatre (1028 Park St). The event is presented by Dripsblack, 5 Points Theatre, AIGA, Adobe, Printing.com, and other passionate advocates from the business community. The weekend’s festivities start at the 5 Points Theatre at 7:30 and is followed by a reception at the Art Center II on Bay Street in downtown (www.tacjacksonville.org) with an art exhibition curated by AIGA. Programs on Saturday and Sunday start at 1pm at the 5 Points Theatre. Visit www.citruscel.com for more details.
some featured films
Hidden Life of the Burrowing Owl
This animated short directed by Mike Roush is a satire on educational nature videos from the early 80s that combines real background footage with animation and narration. But what the narrator doesn’t know about the Burrowing Owl makes for a terrific story. This short is produced by Titmouse, which is a production company that will be familiar to Adult Swim viewers on Cartoon Network.
A collective of Pixar and Dreamworks animators got together to make this richly textured short that tells the story of where all of the young children outside of the village toystore are disappearing to. It was written and directed by Rodrigo Blaas. Curiosity, suspense, beautiful characters. Sweet, endearing, and somewhat creepy. “Sweet but eerie,” says Shane.
Santa, The Fascist Years
We all think of Santa as “Jolly ole St.Nick”. But who knew that he has a dark hidden past that’s very un-jolly’ This short film uncovers and explores Santa’s flirtation with politics and greed. This Bill Plympton film, as well as the world premiere of his new film, will be shown.
Pigeon: Impossible is the tale of Walter, a rookie secret agent faced with a problem
seldom covered in basic training: what to do when a curious pigeon gets trapped inside
your multi-million dollar, government-issued nuclear briefcase.
Jacksonville's Animation Film Festival
by Jon Bosworth