Saturday, December 17, 2011
The year started off with a snowstorm and my little white sand Christmas animation was posted on Cartoon Brew and Motionographer! The attention encouraged me to submit the film to several festivals this year. Including the Aspen Shortsfest. Being a neighbor to this wonderful festival, I not only was able to attend, but I also make their festival trailer, featuring a very Smart Bear!
Getting back into sand animation inspired me to start working on my own work as well this year. I pulled an underwater love-story off the back burner and began animating in earnest. After a successful kickstarter campaign this fall, A Tangled Tale is under full production and will hopefully be swimming around the festival circuit by late summer!
I had the joy of being in the wedding of a dear friend this fall. We've shared many adventures in the snow and sun together, during our time at Tahoe. I wanted to give her and her new husband a special gift, so I animated a wedding invitation to one of their favorite songs. It was fun trying to capture the story of their adventurous courtship in a simple narrative!
And finally, what would the Christmas season be like without another animated Christmas card? This year I offered to donate my services to Women of Vision - an organization that advocates for women and girls internationally. I liked how the final piece turned out so much, I decided to send it as my own Christmas card. If you are looking for a worthy charity to give to during the holidays, I highly recommend you see what these women are doing to create a brighter and healthier future for impoverished women around the globe.
And so, as the New Year springs upon us, please take a moment to give thanks, call someone you love, and eat a Christmas cookie for me!
Corrie Francis Parks
Friday, December 16, 2011
Day 14 - Impossible Present by Royale
P.S. I got a late start on this, so you'll only find spots from Dec 14th on! Next year will be better!
Monday, November 14, 2011
When I first started playing around with sand animation this year, and found an underwater romance rising to the surface, I had no idea that it would lead to a major crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. As the film developed, I knew I wanted it to be more than a low-budget studio exercise. It would be my first professional film and potentially a groundbreaking addition to the sand animation cannon. I knew it needed a finishing fund worthy of these goals. But I also knew I would never be able to convince one production company to give me even half the amount I needed to meet my budget. Sure, I could have cut corners, begged friends of friends for favors, cracked open my piggy back and prayed no rainy days would come. That’s how independent films are made, right? Call me an idealist, but I believe in a better world where artists pay their rent on time because someone pays them a living wage.
Fast forward a few months, 149 wonderful people and 11,811 of their dollars later. “A Tangled Tale” is now swimming in a comfortable budget and my piggy bank is safe. I've had a couple filmmakers contact me already, saying my success has encouraged them to consider Kickstarter for their upcoming films. So, I thought I would share a few observations in hopes of fueling that flame.
Preparing for a crowdfunding campaign is a big deal! More than half of all Kickstarter projects fail to hit their goal (and consequently don't get any money) so I really had no idea how this would turn out. Basically you are pitching your project to the internet. You have to take into account short attention spans and trigger-happy ‘like” button clicking. I think the idea behind backing these creative projects is that people want to become a part of something outside themselves. If you can engage a viewer long enough to show them their role in your creative process, chances are they will be willing to part with some of their hard-earned cash. There are a ton of resources on the web for putting together a good pitch (start with Nathaniel Hansen’s Ultimate Crowdfunding To-Do List). I looked at a lot of other Kickstarter projects, both successful and unsuccessful, read several articles, talked to one person I knew who had successfully crowdfunded her film and pretty much took all their advice.
The trickiest part for me was deciding how much to go for. With Kickstarter’s all-or-nothing model, you don’t want to aim too high and not reach your goal because then you end up with nothing. However, once you hit your goal, the momentum of the campaign declines a lot (less guilt on the part of the people who haven’t ponied up yet) so setting the goal too low may mean you end up with a bare-bones budget. Some projects do exceed their goals by astronomical figures, but they are rarely films. Music albums, gadgets and games can to go into the thousand percentiles because they are basically discounted pre-sales for a potentially awesome product and usually very affordable (Kickstarter is a fun place to go Christmas shopping). Films on the other hand, don’t have much to offer other than a DVD, so getting creative with the rewards is important!
Here’s how I determined my funding goal: I started with my ideal budget for the film which was $13,000. This included a large contingency for sound design, an expanded marketing and printing budget, and some allocation for film festival travel. I figured from my personal sphere of influence I could get around 100 backers. Kickstarter states their average pledge is $70, so obviously that didn’t match up. I re-crunched the numbers, cutting out non-essentials, assuming I could get a few good deals, factored in the cost of rewards and fees and came up with a workable budget of $8000. It would be tight, but I could finish the film and get it on the festival circuit and figure things out from there. It would need more backers or a higher average pledge to make it, but if Kickstarter worked the way it’s supposed to, there would be backers outside my immediate circle to make up the difference.
Managing the project was another big adventure. Like many artists, I’m not much of a self-promoter, so I had to find ways to keep sharing the project over and over without losing my authenticity. I also wanted to share something meaningful with my potential backers. This meant creating new content by writing project updates, offering special rewards at landmark moments, making some new rewards when the funding flat-lined. I had 450 people on my email list, and after every email, I saw a jump in the pledges. I asked people to share the project with 2 of their friends in a personal email or phone call. 35% of my backers are people i don’t know, but I’m pretty sure many are a result of those emails and phone calls. Many of my backers have known me for years and probably would have pledged whether or not they got anything in return. Still, most people will pause before they hand out $100, but if they know they will get 2 DVDs and something to hang on their wall for it, suddenly it’s a bargain for doing something they want to do anyway.
We hit our $8,000 goal with 3 weeks left in the campaign and sure enough the pledges flat-lined. Even offering new rewards and email reminders didn’t seem to have an effect. But things ramped up again with a week to go. Some people (including me) work better with a looming deadline and in the last 24 hours we added over $1000 to the budget. Of course there were a few people emailing me after the project closed lamenting how they had missed the deadline. I told them to just send me a check!
I've been AMAZED at the groundswell of support for this film and am so grateful. The best part is that all the money will be cycled back into the economy to musicians, sound designers, environmentally-friendly printers - all small-scale operations that need the work. I hate asking artists to work for free, for the "love of a project". I get asked that a lot and I have a hard time saying "No" when I need to, so the ability to pay people for their work makes me SO happy!
And the best of the best part is that now that I have 149 people supporting me with their hard-earned money, I had better make a damned good film, and follow through on the rewards I promised! There is no financial accountability within the Kickstarter model. I could easily take that $11,811, buy a first class ticket to South America and spend the rest of the year on the beach. But accountability is more than just expecting a return on an investment. It’s a relationship. I think it's a testament to the nature of crowdfunding that more than half of my backers gave less than $50. It doesn't matter if they gave $1 or $1000, they all wanted to be involved in “A Tangled Tale” and that is what motivates me to make sure this is an incredible film. So thanks, Kickstarter, for making the world a better place, one project at a time!
If you missed the kickstarter boat, you can still support the film via PayPal. Find out more at www.ATangledTaleFilm.com
Monday, October 24, 2011
That’s right, October 28th is World Animation Day! Time to celebrate the art of animation in all its variations. If you are in the Denver area. ASIFA-Colorado is putting on some great events. But the one I want to highlight (since shameless self-promotion is all the rage) is ME!
I am the featured speaker for Friday’s events and I’ll be giving a LIVE demonstration of sand animation. I will also show some sand animation films, talk about our recently successful Kickstarter campaign for A Tangled Tale, and, I’ll have demonstration station set up so you can try making your own sand animation. This is an unprecedented chance to try this very unusual technique, so be sure to mark your calendars and Celebrate Animation with the World!
When: Friday, Oct. 28 @ 7pm
Where: the Bolt Factory, 209 Kalamath, Unit 7
$3 for ASIFA members
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Our original goal of $8,000 was the bare minimum we needed for post-production. If we reach $12,000 before Nov. 7th, I'll have the great joy of expanding our budget in the following directions:
- Music Madness: I've been talking to one of my favorite musicians about the score for the film and I'm thrilled he will be composing for us. We're still working out the contract so extra dollars will just sweeten the deal.
- Sounding Off: Sound is at least 50% of the cinema experience. Some would argue more! Getting a sweet surround sound mix involves a lot of people - sound designers, mixers, recording technician and foley artists.
- Going Green: we want our marketing materials and backer rewards to be environmentally friendly, but green printing adds to the budget. Extra funding will help us keep our commitment to being green.
- Festival Frenzy: The average festival entry fee is around $35, and most filmmakers submit to at least 100 festivals! Once a film is in, there's shipping prints, marketing materials and travelling, which all add up. But getting a short film on a big screen near you is our goal, and the more we can put in our festival budget the better chance we have of getting "A Tangle Tale" on the next Oscar list!
- Production Deadlines: Why stop at $12K? If we double our goal, I will be able to take a month off from freelance work and focus entirely on getting the film done ahead of schedule. That means you get your rewards sooner and the party starts early!
These are all working artists and technicians that make the cinema experience and they deserve to earn a living. Consider yourself a patron of the arts by pledging your support! Thank you again, for getting us past the "bare minimum" goal. We are very excited to see what we can do with a larger budget. 150%, here we come!
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Additionally, backers at the $1,000 level have the opportunity to commission a single-edition sand painting (i.e. you chose the size and subject and will have the only print in the world!).
Again, (can I say it enough?) thank you so much for your support! I have no doubt we can make and even exceed that $8,000 mark well before Nov. 7th. All it takes is a little push, a little share-the-luv. So email, blog, tweet and tumble these new works of art in support of the film!
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Friday, September 30, 2011
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Mother's of Preschoolers (aka MOPS) is a non-profit group based out of Denver. In order to get the word out about a new grant opportunity for their members, they opted for a short and sweet story rather than a big write up. And they hired me to do it!Tell me, do you get the picture?
Friday, July 8, 2011
Saturday, July 9th was hoppin' in Basalt! Saturdays LIVE in Basalt is a summer street festival that happens every second Saturday in our little town on the Frying Pan. There is live music and local food stalls, runners finishing the Aspen Marathon, and Art in the Park, featuring an outdoor Animation Station! This month, we made another community animation project, similar to last December's Yulefest. Check out the results of our efforts over the course of the day!
Saturday, June 18, 2011
This year, Thom and I are staying in sunny Colorado to enjoy our first ever summer together (in 3 years of togetherness!) But to keep the kiwi connection, I'm sending a sweet little short film to our friends at the New Zealand Mountain Film Festival. You can see "Snow" on opening night of the festival, July 1st at 7pm in Wanaka! If you are nearby, don't miss it!
Thursday, May 26, 2011
I am pleased to announce that this summer I will be teaching 3 animation classes at the Wyly Center for the Arts in Basalt. Now you have a chance to bring objects and drawings to life. We will try out different types of animation to create a series of short films you can share with your friends and family. Classes are for all age groups so please tell anyone you think might be interested! It's coming up in less than a month, so don't wait to register!
Here are the dates and links:
Registration is now open and space is very limited so sign up early and bring a friend. I look forward to animating with you!
Monday, May 16, 2011
This week I’ll be heading to Amsterdam as the WRENCH project makes its debut. Featuring eight original compositions inspired by the photographs of Edward Burtynsky, the performance will be “a tightly versed integration of sound and projected image”.
I found my way into this project through Sueng-Ah Oh, a composer I met at the MacDowell Colony. We only crossed paths for a few days, but it was enough to spark interest in each other’s work and 2 years later, we find our talents mutually beneficial! I have been creating the visual accompaniment to Seung-Ah’s piece Figures in Time. It has been thrilling to have access to Mr. Burtynsky’s Quarry Series photographs as the raw materials for my animation. I am impressed by the rigid geometric forms and linear divisions embedded in the massive rock forms. The deception of scale turns machinery and people into mere specks of texture in a photograph. My approach to the project has been to accentuate these elements through movement as a reminder of the human footprint which become part of the raw artistry of a landscape. Burtynsky’s photographs resonate with my belief that a pristine environment is not nearly so compelling as one that has symbiosis with humanity.
The premier of our work, along with the other compositions will be performed by Hexnut on May 22 in Amsterdam’s prestigious Muziekgebouw. I have been working with a recording of the composition, but since the actually performance will be live, we are both very curious (and nervous) about whether the synchronization will actually work. Hexnut plans to take the performance on tour throughout the Netherlands and Europe in the coming year.
Friday, May 6, 2011
I can’t think of a better venue for showing off new media works than on a giant LED screen in the middle of a major US city. This Friday, May 13 at 8:30pm the Mile High City is hosting “Frame of Mind: Curation of Visual Art Pioneers”. The show is free, outside at the corner of 14th and Champa, so if you are in town, come on by. For the show, Thom and I created “Narrow Gauge”, a short animation inspired by the derelict tracks of the Rio Grande RR near our house. I guess that makes us visual art pioneers!
In addition to the showcase, there will also be a 3D digital mapping project. If it is anything like this piece, which was shown in Amsterdam last year, prepare to be blown away. All this hoopla is part of Create Denver Week, which looks like a pretty great event in general. There are over 30 workshops for artists on Saturday along with gallery receptions, exhibitions etc. Kudos to Denver for supporting the arts!
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
If you are blown away by the music, you should be. My friend Sean McClowry has graciously allowed me to use his "Concerto for Double Bass - 2nd Movement" for the trailer. Listen to more of his excellent compositions on his website, http://seanmcclowry.com/
I'll be working on this film over the summer, and researching the subject on the Frying Pan and Roaring Fork rivers with my new fly rod! I can actually step out our back door and throw my line in the river. Of course, that doesn't guarantee I'll be bringing home dinner.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
So, after several days of a well-balanced film diet, and just before the awards ceremony, we give you our favorite picks. I've tried to provide links to websites and trailers where available so click the picture for more info on each film.
Raju Max Zähle, Germany/India
Jan and Sarah are overjoyed to adopt an orphaned boy from Kolkata. When he vanishes, they begin a frantic search and hit upon some unsettling truths in the process.
Falling Adriano Cirulli, UK/Italy
A poetic study of human interaction, expressed through movement and sound.
Time Freak Andrew Bowler, USA
Chronology goes comically awry for a wacky inventor trying to change his life through his time machine.
West of the Moon Brent Bonacorso, USA, 10 min
Perhaps one of my favorite of the entire festival, this recounting of a dream becomes a visual feast of paradoxes.
The Little Boy and the Beast Johannes Weiland and Uwe Heidschötter, Germany
A gracious and witty picture of parents at their most difficult moments. Beautiful story and delightful animation.
dik Christopher Stollery, Australia
A child’s drawing is the inadvertent catalyst for this spirited domestic comedy about sexuality and secrets.
And last, but certainly not least, I must give a mention to Animal Beatbox, by Damon Gameau of Australia There is nothing technically special about this animated oddity. In fact it looks as though it was made by a guy, his mother and his girlfriend in 3 days. In fact it was. But when you watch it, you'll see why it was the unofficial hit of the festival. I warn you, the beat will be stuck in your head for days.
Special thanks to all the filmmakers and festival staff and volunteers who made Shortsfest such a great success!
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
The first thing that came up on the screen, in all its HD glory, was that smart little Aspen bear! Wow! It looked great on the big screen, which reminded me why film festivals will never go out of style, even when everything is up on YouTube. I can't wait to see how "Snow" looks up there Friday night!
If the first 2 programs are anything to go by, this is going to be an amazing 5 days of shorts. Thom and I stayed for both programs and even with our high standards, we couldn't find one film to complain about. In fact some of them were so good they are absolutely worth mentioning. If you have a chance to see these films at a festival, you should:
Swimming Pool - Alexandra Hetmerova, Czech Republic,
It's a quiet evening at the city pool, and two strangers looking for peace instead find each other in this charming aquatic tale.
The Wind Is Blowing on My Street - Saba Riazi, Iran
The wind blows, the gate closes, and a young woman in Tehran finds herself stranded on the street without her headscarf.
North Atlantic - Bernardo Nascimento, UK/Portugal
Hugo, a young air traffic controller in the Azores, has only one pilot on his radar tonight. Their conversation is one he won't soon forget. http://www.northatlanticshortfilm.com/
Stanley Pickle -Victoria Mather, UK
Stanley's life runs like clockwork, until an encounter with a mysterious girl awakens something deep inside. http://stanleypicklemovie.com/
After the show, several of the filmmakers came up on stage and spoke about their films and answered questions from the audience. Afterwards, we headed over to the Library (a cozy little bar) at the Hotel Jerome for a nightcap and more conversation with other filmmakers and guests. This will be going on every night at different local venues, so if you come out for the screenings, be sure ask where the party is and bring your stub for discounts on the bar tab. I have to say, from a filmmaker's perspective, ShortsFest is certainly one of the best run festivals that I've been to, and the Aspen community is certainly coming out for it!
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Concept, animation and sound design by CFParks.
- 23 of the 83 films are animated!
- According to IndieWIRE, ShortsFest is a Top 50 Festival. And it's Oscar-qualifying, which means if a film wins a prize it goes up for Oscar consideration.
- There are 143 bear drawings in this animated promo.
- The mountains in the background are our beautiful Maroon Bells. I am looking forward to exploring up there when the snow finally melts. Until then, time to watch films!
Monday, March 14, 2011
Remember that little sand Christmas card I sent out in December. Well, it's been picked up by a Top 50 film festival in my own backyard, the Aspen ShortsFest! Come watch it on the big screen in the Wheeler Theater in Aspen, CO. Get your tickets people: Friday, April 8, 2011 at 5:30pm
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
I've grown up in the Protestant tradition, with a sporadic practice of giving up things for Lent, always thinking I was trying to identify with Jesus' suffering on the cross by suffering through six weeks without candy and desserts. It only took a few years of adulthood before I recognized the pathetic nature of this approach and Lent eventually became something I didn't really practice. A few years ago, however, I was challenged to give up sweets for Lent, mostly because I had developed a very strong sweet tooth that was giving my dentist a headache. Early in the Lenten season, I was spending a weekend with a Catholic friend. He was very pointedly avoiding the M&Ms and coffee in our conference room on Saturday, but come Sunday, I was shocked to see him munching and drinking away like any old heathen. Upon further questioning, he gently instructed me that Lent is a 40 day fast, (that being a recurring number tied up with Biblical redemption) and that there are actually 52 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. Thus each Sunday during the Lenten period was not a fasting day. My friend has a PhD in Molecular Biology but I was still skeptical about the math so I actually went and counted the days on a calendar. Lo and behold, he was right!
Turns out that, outside the Tradition of Ludicrous Self-Denial, Lent is a period of anticipation and celebration! Each Sunday is meant to be a mini-Easter, where we break our fast and look forward to the big celebration on Easter morning. I cannot begin to describe how freeing this was for me. Instead of dragging my feet through the weeks preceding Easter, I would eagerly look forward to Sundays when I could enjoy a small something sweet and think about God's love and the wonderful story of the empty tomb. It turns out that the discipline of fasting should, paradoxically, be a freeing exercise.
As this Lenten season begins, I humbly offer out to the world a film I made many years ago. It is a film about freedom through sacrifice. May the next six weeks bring freedom from whatever has been confining you this year.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
I caught some sort of handyman bug last month and the studio became a bonafide construction site! I love the idea of building things, but I have to admit that up until a few weeks ago, I didn't even own a screwdriver. I've been meaning to make myself a larger workspace for the sand animation and while wandering through WalMart I saw this glass computer desk. That was the catalyst. At 40"x 24" it's the perfect size, pretty darn stable and the glass is thick and sturdy. I had originally thought I could use the keyboard tray to slide reference drawings under the glass, but I decided I needed to frost the glass to diffuse the light properly so I ended up taking it off. The $100 was well worth not having to figure out how to build a table and put a huge sheet of glass on top. Once I got the table set up, I had to figure out how to get the light below and the camera above, so off to the local hardware store I went with my concept sketch and no idea where to start. The lady at the front counter sent me upstairs to consult with Max (aka MacGyver). He took one look at my sketch and got this twinkle of glee in his eye and off we went on a whirlwind around the hardware store collecting items.
Putting it all together (hooray for power drills!) This is what it finally looked like once it was all attached. I used 2 C-clamps to secure the wooden frame to the table top so I wouldn’t risk knocking it out of alignment.
And here it is all lit up and in use! Thanks to Max and Spencer who didn’t roll their eyes every time I walked in the door at Valley Lumber (and it was more than a few visits!) I made sure to bring them a big pile of chocolate ship cookies!
You can expect some new sandy work soon!
Monday, January 31, 2011
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Something on the stranger side, but beautiful drawings and unusual editing and sound design make this piece riveting.
And just for kicks and giggles, if OK-Go can animate on toast, there's nothing you can't animate on. How about t-shirts?