Here's a little pirate animation
, 1 element from a scene.
Last week I completed the main 4:00, and wrote :45 or so of new "bookend" scenes to flesh it out. Today I'm rendering video for final audio edit, and on thursday we're meeting for new dialogue recording @ _fluffy
Wow, a 4 month gap in posting here, this might be rambling.
A next step for the cartoon will be working with my friend Dave to set up a new blog dedicated to it. Dave runs Website in a Weekend.
I'd love to have my efforts complement Dave's, and vice versa. We talk about this idea that personal creativity and collaboration is strongest in a crappy economy (they say a recession is best time to go to school.) These days it's also easier to start things and reach people, but harder to keep them going or get people to care.
I got sick of updating livejournal with random crap hardly anyone will read. I have an urge to always be doing something, and it's better to have a goal for it. A blog or a short cartoon- which one has more lasting value? (Well, ideally 1 would help the other.) I don't expect too much when the cartoon is done- just film festivals or whatever, but getting it done is a personal reward. I'm looking forward to the next one.
Making short films seems like a waste of time judging by audience and money. People who are known for making theirs can probably get named on one hand. On the other hand, a short film is where an animator can "direct" and make something personally notable. It doesn't happen too often with tv shows or movies. People go to a live movie because it's a Scorsese flick, but they usually watch animation because it came from pixar or __ channel.
Speaking of how it's easier to start things and harder to keep them going, I know talented people who have millions of views on youtube, but that and a dollar gets you a cup of coffee. Ask musicians and journalists what they think about their work being available free... expect ambivalence. I say it with a little experience from my home business (but there's a physical object value with stuff I sell that helps.)
It seems like successful indie creators are using a whole package of efforts to maintain notice. A good example: Marc Maron and WTF podcast.
Some of the tentacles on the octopus of their mini-empires are:
- name recognition (even trivial recognition that brings people once, with regular updates or email list to bring them back)
- the main content (a film, book, or album)
- some merch (tshirts and stuff that can be sold often- you can't crank out a film that often)
- some live element (readings, workshops, shows, or events)
- and cross promotion with other people who help bring credibility.
Whenever I get around to finishing a better site/blog to host films, Pat's Animation is too tame a name. Maybe it will be: "Pat's Media Empire, a Division of Pat-O-Dyne Industrial Concern(TM)"
I was at my favorite neighborhood sandwich shop a little while ago, and daydreamed about how their space would be perfect size for a storefront for my home business. That's been growing lately- I broke my all-time personal records twice in 4 months- although it's still packed into a small San Francisco apartment. There's no extra overhead, no worries, it leaves me flexible to make animation today and sell more tomorrow (to fund animation.) Flexibility is a big deal.
I talked to the owner of the shop about the commitment of maintaining a space. SF rents are crazy. Having a storefront space is something I've thought about often, and had some light experience with, enough to get a feel for how much work it takes. The overhead will "eat you alive!" -as Dave said. Even if profits aren't a goal, self-sustaining is a challenge that kills good ideas.
Running a bookstore in this economy would be a challenge... the usual attitude I hear from home dealers is that "succeeding" with a storefront means breaking even. Maybe gaining a few new ties to the community or justifying ownership of a building... but not much extra money. Indie retail shops are also having a hell of a time competing with Amazon and Border's.
"Succeeding" on personal level in creative work means just getting to do it on your own terms. Breaking even is some kind of achievement. Who makes a short film and expects to make anything compared to cost of labor? Most likely it's a creative, social reward, or a calling card to get a company job.
Nerd culture used to have social spaces to host it. (When candy bars were a nickel and nerds didn't have giant corporations selling them billion dollar movies... Marc Maron is selling "nerd cock" t-shirts because nerds won the coolness battle against alpha jocks.) I'm thinking Syracuse NY, early 90's. "Tales Twice Told" was the wacky used book shop where I took my carefully saved $100 paper route money, and blew it on stacks of sci-fi books. They also ran Magic card tournaments, like the collectible shop in the mall where we hung after school and I made money from cards. Buttons was the ghetto video game arcade, where you could get a fat pocket of tokens for $5, and play retro Pac-Man till 4AM. These days a lot of that stuff happens via internet or video games at home. (Poop on World of Warcraft, it's the treadmill that makes you fatter.) How many of those places still get enough customers to stay open? The social dimension is kind of lost and taken over.
Cost of rent where I am might also make me miss the social dimension. Places have to keep moving customers through, things aren't casual. But San Francisco is supposed to have the highest proportion of readers in the US, and it does help small book shops more than other areas. They're still hurting, but this is a good place to start a wacky niche business. There's a beekeeper store down the street from me. I should check out the neighborhood comics/coffee shop.
Kidrobot has a shop here, and it's interesting that they get people to pay lots for special limited edition custom toys. If they get fans to support a commercial space for such a thing, I wonder if animators and short films could? Festivals are the only place I know that short films get special notice, and that's a tiny non-commercial niche.
How many galleries are there that showcase animators? I think it would be really cool to start a comic, book, art, screening space that might include a cafe too. Like this-
-You can stop in for coffee, hang out, browse books and art. Maybe the coffee is complimentary as a draw and something to enjoy while you eyeball art.
-The gallery isn't just on the wall. You can pay a buck to start a film at one of the dedicated machines for each artist on display. Like paying a buck for a game at an arcade- it's not interactive, but it's hard to have coffee and game at the same time anyways- and there's also art games. Each artist could include merch (books, prints, shirts etc) in their section, and the place could draw support because it's a more special connection than seeing the stuff on the internet. Like a longer-term convention dealer space, curated by the gallery. What if you dealt with an artist who's already prepared for conventions a few times a year and they just ship a box of their stuff in, and then you ship the remainder back after a month with payment for what sold? Shipping is cheap. (Use an internet escrow deposit as security to build trust- consider paying shipping as promotion to gain artist interest, and plan to make it back on commission.) Could work like the upscale antique mall where I had a space along with dozens of other dealers, and the front desk handled everyone's sales.
-It has to be pretty hard to sell art as a gallery, and near impossible to run a tiny screening space, but maybe the other retail stuff could make a package of draws. That and regular special events.
This might be "The homer"
of business ideas.
The local Cartoonist Conspiracy just started meeting at Borderlands cafe. Drawing at a cafe connected to a sci-fi bookshop, that's a fun crossover of a happening.
Just some ramblings, but I'd love to know more from people who deal art or manage commercial space.