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The trifling existence of a hapless cast meets a vicious force of nature that shows no mercy.
The trifling existence of a hapless cast meets a vicious force of nature that shows no mercy.
The trifling existence of a hapless cast meets a vicious force of nature that shows no mercy.
137 backers pledged $10,111 to help bring this project to life.

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A report from SXSW

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The wonderful people at Maxon Cinema 4D invited me to join them for the SXSW Interactive Festival, which has become a pilgrimage for any technology geek. It was an amazing opportunity to show my work to 3D animation enthusiasts from around the world and also a great reason for me to visit my parents who recently moved to Austin from Cincinnati.

SXSW is the busiest week of the year for the city. There are pop-up concerts, corporate sponsored parties, and every variety of person promoting or protesting stuff. Official film and music events are scattered around downtown, while the Interactive Festival takes over the Convention Center. I spent a few hours each day at the Maxon booth promoting my film and the software, but I was also fortunate to spend time wandering the exhibition. I experienced the latest in virtual reality, video games, camera gear, 4K television, robots, interactive software, 3D printing and funky tech toys. There were all sorts of “wearables” including digital slap bracelets and 360 video helmets. I shook hands with a man who had a robotic arm… instead of a real arm.

Maxon hosted an event on Sunday night at a small theater near the Convention Center. An audience of about 40 people showed up to eat pizza, watch “Hellyfish” and hear me talk about our visual effects process. The focus was mostly on character modeling, rigging, and animation (with a big nod to our main animator Pryce Duncalf). It was great fun and I was even able to catch up with a few members of our crew who now live in Austin.

For anyone planning to attend SXSW, I should warn you about the general vibe of frantic overpopulation. The organizers oversold the passes so that even people with “gold passes” had to show up an hour early to get into a lecture or concert. This overflow spilled into the other free events, like when I rsvp’d to the Onion party and found a line 3 blocks long. I met one opportunist pedaling fake wrist bands of every color.

As a person with a high threshold for weirdness, I was skeptical of the famous slogan “keep Austin weird”. In a place where weird is normal, how can you tell who is genuine and who is just trying to fit in? Girl in a superwoman costume – not that weird. Werewolf playing the violin – okay, kind of weird. Silicon Valley startup nerds protesting the spread of artificially intelligent robots… unexpected, but not that weird. In my search for the strange, unexplained and other-worldy, I mostly found people in Halloween costumes. I would argue these people are actually “keeping Austin fun” and I think that’s awesome. Ultimately, I will need many more trips to Austin before I can experience it’s true weirdness.

The weirdest discovery for me was a Comedy Central event poster plastered all around town. The artwork on the poster featured a jellyfish monster that was VERY similar to the illustrations in our end credit sequence. Did they copy Hellyfish? We’ll probably never know. Instead of feeling ripped off, I’ll just be happy that killer jellyfish are trending.

DVD update

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Awards and Festival Roundup

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With the fall film festival circuit officially over and a new year beginning, this seems like a good time to reflect on the adventure of our film so far. “Hellyfish” has been an official selection at 25 film festivals spanning the globe including America, Canada, France, England, Belgium and Australia. Unfortunately we could not make it to every one of them, but the ones we did attend included sold out screenings, filmmaker Q&As, and world-class hospitality. It was everything we hoped it would be and we met amazing filmmakers along the way.

Every festival was truly a magical experience, but my favorite was the Crystal Palace Film Festival near London. The “Sci-Fi and Horror Night” was a week after Halloween and patrons were asked to arrive in costume. So, dressed as swashbuckling pirates, my cousin and I took shelter from the driving rain at St. John’s Cathedral. Festival director Neill Roy, dressed as Beetlejuice, offered us a glass of champagne. The church was awe inspiring and the acoustics were out of this world. “Hellyfish” played to an enthusiastic audience and I had a Q&A with Neill afterward. Also I was able meet up with our main animator, Pryce Duncalf, who lives near London. We have been working together for two years, but this was the first time we met in person!

And we won a few awards:

Best Comedy Short
Buffalo Dreams Film Festival 2014
Buffalo, NY

Best Short Film
Scare-a-Con 2014
Verona, NY

Best Local Film (Golden Shovel)
Buried Alive Film Festival
Atlanta, GA

The festival circuit was a big success by our standards and we’re excited to see the online presence continue to grow. The entire 12 minute film was posted on Youtube just before Halloween and the response has been encouraging and entertaining. We’ve enjoyed fun comments, emails, reviews and we especially love this video from Tony of the Dead.

HUGE thanks again to everyone who helped pull this film together and make it a success!

Hellyfish (the entire 12-minute film) has ARRIVED!

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Dearest Backers,

The time has come for you to reap the rewards of your investment. We hope you have as much fun watching it as we did making it. Please share this YouTube link on your social media outlets, emails and anywhere you see fit. Thanks again!

http://youtu.be/nrmziUUzNrI

The Directors,
Pat & Rob

DC Shorts kicks off the festival circuit

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On Friday, September 12th, “Hellyfish” screened for the first time in a theater in front of a live audience as part of the DC Shorts Film Festival. I was amazed to see a sold out crowd at The E Street Cinema, my favorite theater in DC. The film looked great on the big screen and the sound was fantastic, but the crowd was the best part. They laughed at all the right times and responded even more positively than I had hoped. I had expected our film to get it’s best response from the genre festivals, but I can only hope the other screenings go as well as this one! There is a special thrill a director gets from watching an audience of complete strangers react to his film and I’ll be lucky to experience that again and again in the next few months (see schedule here).

The DC Shorts Film Festival is “the largest short film event on the east coast.” And after attending, I would give it several other accolades including best programming, most professional, and most fun! We enjoyed great films, met talented filmmakers from around the world, and listened to lectures from accomplished directors and film festival insiders all while enjoying delicious food and beverages. From the application process to the awards ceremony, DC Shorts is an exemplary event and it all started with festival founder Jon Gann. His vision for putting the filmmaker first has proven to be a huge success and I hope that it will continue to be a model for other festivals. He even found time to chat with me personally about my film and gave great answers to my questions about how to make the most of the film festival circuit.

“Hellyfish” did not win an award, but seeing my film play next to other world-class films was a huge reward in itself. One of my favorites was “What Cheer?” starring Richard Kind. We shared a Q&A with director Michael Slavens, who is a thoughtful filmmaker and really nice guy. I was very happy to see his film win the “Filmmaker’s Favorite” award. There were so many other great short films I couldn’t begin to capture them here. All 135 of them are viewable online NOW until Sunday, which is great service that few other festivals offer.

And while we were living it up in the nation’s capital, “Hellyfish” did win an award at another festival. Scare-a-con in Verona, NY named us “Best Short” of 2014!