First order of business - the DVDs are FINALLY here and they look awesome!
They'll be sent out in the next few weeks. We'll be contacting you to make sure we have your current address.
SIGGRAPH is the world's largest conference on computer graphics. This year it's at the LA Convention Center and Cinema 4D has asked me to present Hellyfish! This is a huge honor and a dream come true for a computer nerd like me. My 1-hour behind-the-scenes presentation will cover the animation and visual effects process for our film. I will crack open the software and show the inner workings of our killer monsters.
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.
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!
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!