Archive for the ‘Biz’ Category

Ottawa International Animation Festival – Blog #3

Wallace, special guest at OIAF 


Wallace, special guest at OIAF


The week of the OIAF wrapped with award-winners and fascinating presentations. I loved hearing about the goings on at Aardman Animations from Helen Brunsdon, Development and Broadcast Manager. She brought along some old friends including Wallace, Grommit, and Morph and introduced us to some new friends like Purple and Brown, Pib and Pog, and Angry Kid. Aardman, best known for its claymation marvels, is branching out to other forms of animation. They produced the lyrical and disturbing “The Pearce Sisters” as a festival piece to highlight their CGI animation: it has won a BAFTA and received prizes at Clermont-Ferrand and Anima.

Aardman has been ground-breaking in mobile content. Angry Kid is on multiple carriers and even Morph, one of their oldest characters filmed on 16mm, works well on mobile. Aardman is also producing more adult or “rude” content, as Brunsdon called it, so check out Jeffrey the Aussie with no Cozzy (cartoon nudity!) and JellyBeats (strong language from jellyfish) for a taste.


Announcing the launch of Super U’s Animation Contests

I’m writing from the Ottawa International Animation Festival. I’ve met lots of animators here from schools across Canada, like Emily Carr University, and through the United States. They’re here for inspiration that can only come from meeting people of like-mind and with the same interests.

It was a spark of inspiration that led Michel Beaudet to create Tetes a claques (now, too). He was playing around with different animation techniques in the basement of his house and came up with the unique style of the characters – the dim pilots, the Halloween kids, the farting frogs.

We at Super U are so excited to be partnering with Michel and to launch our first animation contests. I’ve been telling the animators here at the festival about the contests. Michel has said that the “Internet is sucha  great tool to give a voice to emergent artists.” This is exactly what Super U is dedicated to.

The animation contest opens for entry on Thursday, September 25 and we’ll be running 4 contests a year and a best of contest in August 2009 – the top prize is $7,500.

Today was the Billings’ Estate picnic sponsored by Cartoon Network with food by Lone Star (thanks!). They had a cool pumpkin carving competition. I hope the animators entering our film contest are as inventive as these artistic geniuses:

Ottawa International Animation Festival – Blog #2

Matt Senreich, unidentified blonde, Seth Green

Matt Senreich, unidentified blonde, Seth Green

I had the pleasure of seeing the Co-Creators of Robot Chicken (Cartoon Network, Adult Swim), who were the keynote speakers on Thursday at the OIAF. Seth Green (you know him as Scott Evil from Austin Powers) and Matt Senreich produce this stop-motion sketch comedy series and are real fans of animation, actors and pop culture. They came up with the idea in 2000 – before broadband – and told some entertaining storiesabout the early years of fedexing huge tapes coast to coast, working full-time at day jobs and getting by on 3 hours of sleep a night for 9 months. They had some great advice: Make a demo or a pilot (to compensate for the utter lack of imagination of the people you’re pitching to – Green’s words).

Green also said that the immediacy of the internet makes it a great place to use as a launching pad. I really agree with that – lots of animators at the conference are talking about the ability to make something and have it seen by people almost instantaneously. We really hope that they’ll take advantage of the new animation contests here at Super U. Watch this space tomorrow for special details about the contest announcement on

Ottawa International Animation Festival – Blog #1

Parliament Buildings from the National Gallery

Parliament Buildings from the National Gallery

Welcome to a special series of posts from the Ottawa International Animation Festival. This morning, the Television Animation Conference started off with a bang – the Government of Brazil announced that they have co-production funding available for animation. (Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll track down the contact info.) The keynote speaker was Brown Johnson, President of Animation for Nickelodeon which sounds like a fun place to work: they have fun houses at Halloween, funny car competitions and tie day on Friday. I wonder if Super U will beat them to the first annual “underwear on the outside day”?

Animators - and future animators - in the Book Lounge

Animators - and future animators - in the Book Lounge

The Pitch This! session pitted enthusiastic animators against experienced commissioners from CBC Kids, Teletoon, PBS Kids and Jetix. At breakfast, I sat with the guys who were pitching The Mulligans – a series set around a kids’ golf school – and they were sweating bullets. I admire their chutzpah. Here’s some great feedback I gleaned: Complex character descriptions can be used to fuel the storyline. And: defining the age-range is crucial when pitching. If you’re an animation creator, here’s the scoop on what the Canadian ‘casters are looking for: Teletoon wants boy comedy and teen/tween dramedy, CBC is taking pitches for shows for 4-6 year olds, and a 7:30 am before school show with a broad appeal for young families and they’re looking for shorts.

Stay tuned for some exciting news about animation contests on

Gotta run to Happy Hour! Here’s a shot of me by the National Gallery of Canada.

Clare at the National Gallery of Canada (Louise Boureois sculpture "Maman")

Getting LGBT Content Out There

It wasn’t that long ago that gay and lesbian content was no where to be found in mainstream media. There might have been the odd illusion or whispered comment, but you certainly wouldn’t have seen a movie like Brokeback Mountain in the theatres a few decades ago. Despite the fact that there are many LGBT filmmakers, its been a long, hard struggle to get  stories about the community to the masses.

More and more we’re watching the walls come down, though. Gay and lesbian characters are emerging not only in film, but on many great TV shows – like Out There judge Adamo Ruggiero‘s characrer, Marco, on Degrassi: The Next Generation.

Let’s hope this insurgence of great LGBT film and TV continue. I can’t wait to see what emerges from the Out There contest on

Don’t you know who I am?

The dreaded six-word phrase uttered by would-be celebs from airports to restaurants worldwide. Now that we’re heading into festival and market season in Canada – Toronto, Atlantic, Ottawa Animation, Vancouver are all in September – it’s time to tell the world who you are by updating your bio for the delegate book.

Robert Wong, Director of the Provincial Tax Credit program for the film and television industry in BC, used to submit fake bios. He included record of his participation in the Extreme Shredding finals of the Tax Credit Games in which he lost both hands and had them replaced with flamethrowers. Bob was the hit of Strategic Partners!

In my fake life, when I am unable to find work in my chosen field as muse to Clive Owen, or find my career as pharmacist to Anna Nicole Smith abruptly ended, I decide to take a day job. So, here I am at Super U! In my spare time I enjoy green tea, macrame, visiting my friends in rehab and planning for my next police car chase to be broadcast live in prime time.

And the Gemini* goes to…

        *The 23rd annual Gemini Awards honours the best in Canadian TV

The Gemini nods were revealed today. And while there are no real surprises in who was nominated, can I make a little back-handed Canadian compliment and say that it’s a pleasant surprise that we have so many heavy-hitting dramas duking it out for the top?

We have a couple of period pieces – CityTV’s Murdoch Mysteries,(leading the noms with 14), and CBC copro The Tudors – against three cop dramas – The Movie Network/Movie Central’s Durham County, CBC’s The Border and Intelligence – for best dramatic series.

In Comedy, fan favourite Corner Gas (CTV) leads the strong pack up against CBC’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes, The Comedy Network’s Odd Job Jack and Rent-A-Goalie, Kenny vs. Spenny and Cock’d Gunns, both from Showcase, for best series.

Congrats to the creators, movers and shakers of Degrassi: the Next Generation (Epitome Pictures), nominated for the umpteenth time for Best Children’s or Youth Fiction Program or Series. We’re happy to welcome DNGer Adamo Ruggiero, who plays Marco del Rossi, as one of the jurors on our latest contest: “Out There” for films by and about the GLBT community on

The Gemini Awards’ main gala takes place in Toronto on November 28. Galas for news, sports and documentary; lifestyle, children’s and youth; and drama, comedy and variety shows take place Oct. 20, 21 and 22 in Toronto.

Curious? Check out the complete list of Gemini nominees.

Good luck everyone!

The M Word: Monetization

Don’t look now, but there’s an elephant in the room. And it’s the question: how do you make money from movies on the internet? The other day, Google revealed new test video ads on the YouTube mobile site in the U.S. and Japan. While YouTube has been genius in the past at negotiating with irate media giants, most recently Lionsgate with an ad-share deal when caught showing early clips from the distribs catalogue, they haven’t breached the hurdle for the other 96% of films on the site. The YouTube official party line is that ads will enhance the user experience, but doesn’t that bring us to the other question: what’s really in it for the filmmaker?

Here at Super U, we’re exploring options for filmmakers to share in the advertising revenues generated on the site. I talked to Super U CEO Gary Tauss and here’s what he had to say: 

“As the Internet increasingly becomes the viewing media of choice, filmmakers have to find a way to fit in to the advertising model.”

He’s seen that the subscription model of revenue-sharing doesn’t work for short films because of supply (of films: lots) versus demand (from broadcasters: low):

“Super U wants to help bridge the gap between the traditional subscription and ad based worlds.  We solicit films and award prizes (so we can then sublicense the films to broadcasters) and we are building up traffic on the Internet site to generate advertising revenue.”

Super U is still a relatively new site – we launched in May – and we’re working hard to get the word out through social media (join our facebook group!) and partnering with film community events and groups. You’ll see us now at the Vancouver Queer Film Festival and soon at the Ottawa International Animation Festival. And by mixing submissions to our film roster, entries to our contests, content from our partners (like Super Channel), along with on site blogs on the film industry, what we are watching, and interviews with filmmakers, we’ll continue to attract viewers to

Tauss explained that in the near future:

“We will share 40% of all ad revenue with the author of the film.  This means that when you click to view a short film you will be directed to a page with a media player window and a few ads on the side.  Some ads are based on the number of impressions (views of the film) and some on the rate of actual click through to the advertisers site.  So when we do a contest like “It’s Hilarious” and “Car Dance Party Moscow” wins, we can attract ads based on the keywords, such as “comedy”, “dancing” and “car”. Each month we total up the revenue from that page and pay the author his or her part.”

What do you think? Come on, take part in the Super U revolution!

The Magic of Marketing

Another producer gave me this great piece of advice: Take good stills for your movie. For my very first short film, ROOM, I arranged for gallery shots of the four lead actors specifically for a promotional campaign to send to film festivals. I did the same thing with my feature film, Love and Other Dilemmas. On a day when Gabrielle Miller and all of the leads were working, we carved out 10 minutes for each of them in costume with photographer Satu Bell. You just need to have a plan.

So why do most posters for romantic comedies show disembodied heads staring off into the distance when we’re meant to believe they’re supposed to be looking into each other’s eyes? You can’t convince me that the characters are supposed to be in love when they don’t appear to be in the same room. And with millions of dollars, you can’t plan ahead a little? Get the well-paid actors to stand still for a minute. Have them pose together. 

The latest culprit, is the upcoming, already forgettable, My Best Friend’s Girl. Check out Dane Cook’s MySpace page for a rant that is probably funnier than the movie.

Filmmakers, FedEx and Super U

Hot Tip #1: When you need to send a dvd to a potential EP or sales agent, Canada Post beats FedEx by a kilometre. 

FedEx is fast, has snazzy tyvek paks, uniforms, and they come to your door in the uniform. On the downside, they require paperwork in triplicate and the right arm of the unborn child of the highest paid actor in a speaking role as a guarantee that you’re not sending seditious or salacious material. 

Canada Post is relatively cheap and relatively quick. You need just an envelope, a stamp and that little green customs sticker. Heck, I’ve even sent DVDs without the little customs sticker and they got there just fine. Cons: You have to go to them (but don’t you need stuff at Shoppers or 7-Eleven anyway?).

Hot Tip #2: On Super U, you don’t need envelopes, stamps or bubble wrap. Simply upload your film at our website,, and enter a contest to win a prize. Tell all your friends, family and fans to visit your film and vote, vote, vote.