About four years ago, at the end my sophomore year at MassArt, I submitted a short animation I had done in my first semester as an animation major to a film festival out of Brooklyn called Animation Block Party. My film, theme, alone—an abstract rumination on freedom and death with a red celluloid key for a main character and a soundtrack featuring my ingenuous approximation of Albert Ayler—had done pretty well in the annual All School Show, scoring in the animation competition as well as being awarded best in show by the Dean, so I thought, why not? I didn’t think much submitting it—only that there was an affordable entry fee, and if by some crazy chance I got in, I’d have a good excuse to see my bud Jude in Brooklyn. To my surprise, my film was accepted. As the date approached (it usually takes place the last weekend of July), I researched APB further, finding out it was started about eight years before and was rapidly becoming the east coast’s preeminent animation festival. When the time for the festival arrived, I was awed by the value given to animation as an art form by its organizers. Casey Safron, ABP’s founder, was such a gracious host, and I and the fifty-plus other animators were treated like royalty. Being able to see my film screened in an actual theater with a full audience among national peers was insanely gratifying.
The experience was a total gas, and I was hooked. Apparently so was ABP, because I submitted and was accepted into it two more years in a row: ( well, well, well in 2012, and Pedro dos Porcos (trans: Peter-of-the-pigs) in 2013. It turns out my films were a shoe in, because Casey went to school at Brandeis back in the ’90s and has a thing for Boston. He told me that he used to love going to Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Animation screenings, and that they sorta planted the seeds for Animation Block Party.
Well, it’s 2015, and I haven’t had a film in ABP in two years. Then again, I haven’t really made a film per se since graduating from MassArt in 2013. It’s tough breaking into the animation freelance world when you have a family to feed and have no interest in doing CGI/Pixar shit. But Casey Saffron and ABP like me and others of my ilk, and he’s bringing a best of ABP to the Somerville Theater on Saturday, and among the films from all over the country will be a handful of work made by New England animators, including my own Pedro dos Porcos, The Divide, from recent Rhode Island School of Design graduate Brent Sievers, winner of Best Animated Student Short at Animation Block Party 2014, and work from local animation studio CloudKid, featuring their creative director Dave Schlafman, as well as from Gina Kamentsky, an animator and kinetic sculptor.
This is a great chance to see what ABP has been bringing to light over the last eleven years, so drop a fiver and about $30 in concessions (or smuggle in some snacks like I’m gonna do), and watch some cartoons!
Animation Block Party
Saturday, June 20 at 2 PM
55 Davis Square, Somerville, MA 02144
Tickets $5, on sale now.