April 20, 2017
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Cohen’s Cartoon Corner
by Karl Cohen
Within a live-action doc on a difficult subject, 'Audrie and Daisy' uses animation to tell part of the story. photo courtesy John Hays
John Hays Directs the Annie-Nominated Audrie and Daisy
The documentary tells the stories of two American high school students, Audrie Pott and Daisy Coleman, living in different parts of the country, who experienced the trauma of sexual assault and then harassment that followed. At the time of the assaults, Pott was 15 and Coleman was 14 years old.
After the assaults, the victims and their families were subjected to abuse and cyber-bullying. The documentary follows their outcomes through time, social media, court documents and police investigations.
According to John Hays, the director of the animation for the film, Audrie killed herself as a result of the tragic event, while Daisy survived the ordeal partly because the hacker group known as Anonymous got involved to protect her from small town abuse.
It also helped her start an online army to combat a justice system that was protecting the perpetrator, a high school football star. Another thing that helped her was her artwork, which Hays and his crew brought to life in the film. The animation was used to illustrate her narration of events, and as John Hays says, "It kind of made it all the more chilling in some ways.”
Although the animation is a small part of the film, it is nominated in the Annie’s Best Animated Special Production category along with the new “Kung Fu Panda” short. As Animation Director, John Hays worked on the sequence where Daisy’s artwork comes to life, drawing storyboards and layouts. Mike Overbeck then animated and composited the boards in AfterEfx, Charlie Canfield also animated a shot, and Amy Capen produced the animation. John Hays says the animation was “certainly used in a very unique special way.”
There was also a segment where animation had to mask the identities of two defendants (who agreed to the interview as part of a settlement). Although another crew handled this part of the production, according to John Hays, "This segment was especially tricky as it had to be scrutinized by lawyers.”
The film directors are Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, a husband-and-wife team who have teenage children. Fascinated by the role of social media in teenage lives, they were attracted to the subject of the Daisy Coleman story as a modern-day “Scarlet Letter”.
While they recognize that social media can be a source of enormous cruelty, it can also be a powerful tool for forging life-saving connections. The film premiered in 2016 at Sundance and Netflix picked it up there for distribution. It was shown locally this spring in the San Francisco International Film Festival.
'Pear Cider & Cigarettes' is a 'kick-ass violent crime story in a futuristic city,' according to reviewer Cohen. photo courtesy Robert Valley
Pear Cider & Cigarettes Short-Listed for Oscar
Robert Valley’s animated “Pear Cider & Cigarettes” is a kick-ass violent crime story set in a futuristic city. It started a few years ago as a graphic novel that was funded with a Kickstarter campaign. The brutally honest story is based on Robert's turbulent relationship with a self-destructive, yet charismatic friend from his childhood.
He cried out for help from a military hospital in China and sent Robert on a wild ride to get him home to Vancouver. In 2016, the animated short based on the graphic novel was released. It is up for both an Oscar nomination and an Annie award in the same category as “Audrie and Daisy“ and the “Kung Fu Panda“ short. It can be seen as a video on demand.
Valley worked locally at Colossal Picture on “Aeon Flux“ and other projects. He later was with WildBrain before moving south. His more recent credits include character designer on “Tron Uprising”, director of 3 episodes on “Wonder Women“ and most recently director of “Metallica’s Tribute to Lemmy Kilmister in Murder One“. The animation follows Lemmy from Liverpool until he founds Motörhead.
A moment in 'Borrowed Time' about a burnt-out sheriff returning to a hard-to-forget crime. photo courtesy the film's creators
Pixarians Makes Movie in Spare Time
Pixar animators made “Borrowed Time” in their own borrowed (spare) time as it were. It took them five years to complete this impressive dramatic work—see it
Glas Animation Announces Special Guests
The second edition of GLAS Animation will taking place March 2-5, 2017 in Berkeley, California. GLAS introduces new ideas and expands the scope of animation by bringing new voices, new talents, new themes, and a new generation of independent filmmakers and curators to the United States. They highlight independent animation and curate special programs that focus on the most significant periods of animation history that will serve as an inspiration for contemporary animators.
Guests this year include Brad Bird (“The Incredibles“,“The Iron Giant“), Massaski Yusa (“Mind Game“), George Schwizgebel (“Jeu), Mathieu Labaye (“The Labyrinth“), Amy Lockhart (“Walk For Walk), Lei Lei (“Recycled“), experimental animator Peter Burr, Ana Ramirez (“So Long, Yupi“), Madeline Sharafian (“Acorn“) and Ottawa Animation Festival director Chris Robinson. More guests will be announced early next year.
Karl Cohen is an animator, educator and director of the local chapter of the International Animation Society and can be reached
Posted on Jan 24, 2017 - 12:23 AM