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A documentary feature about the wild and pioneering days of silent animated cartoons.
A documentary feature about the wild and pioneering days of silent animated cartoons.
280 backers pledged £14,351 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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A feature length documentary showcasing pioneering short films from the early years of American animation.

Note: Kickstarter will convert currency for you, so please don't feel discouraged if you're not from the UK!

To many, the history of American animated cartoons begins with the story of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse. Before the mouse, however, Disney was simply one of many who attempted to make their name in animated cartoons. From the earliest experiments with moving drawings, to the technical and artistic triumphs that arrived just prior to the introduction to synchronized sound, men like Winsor McCay, John R. Bray, and Max Fleischer pushed to make each cartoon better than the last. To our mind, their names deserve to be as venerated as their counterparts in the live-action film industry.

Beyond their historic significance, it it worth stressing that many of the animated films produced during the silent period are wildly entertaining and often down right weird and wonderful. In the days before film censorship or the misconception that cartoons were only for children, anything went. The result is a valuable canon of films which firmly reflects American society of the time.

Cartoon Carnival takes full advantage of the archive of Tommy José Stathes. A collector of animated films since childhood, Tommy has worked tirelessly to unearth film prints of silent cartoons that were considered lost to the ages. Carefully archived and digitized in HD, his library offers a valuable glimpse into the evolution of the animated art-form.

Tommy has also put a lot of work into ensuring that these films are not simply locked up for safe keeping, but shown to for audiences to enjoy as originally intended. His New York screenings, christened 'Cartoon Carnivals' have seen new generations embrace the humour and wonder of these films and that is something we really wish to carry across into documentary. In addition to telling the story of the pioneering artists who pushed forward the medium, we hope to punctuate Cartoon Carnival with several of of their films in full.

We'll also be telling the story of how these films faded into obscurity before being rescued by dedicated collectors. We firmly believe that these are films that deserve to be seen and, by the time you have viewed our film, we hope you will agree with us.

Why Kickstarter?

Simply put, we do not feel that the kind of film we wish to make can be funded via more traditional routes. Rather than compromise the vision we have for the film (Cartoon Carnival will not be hampered by pointless celebrity commentary and it will not talk down to its audience), we thought we would turn to its prospective audience. Bringing this project to Kickstarter is a risk, but it is a gamble that, with your help, we hope will pay off.

Where will my money go?

To give this project the best possible chance of going ahead, we have worked hard to strip Cartoon Carnival's budget back to a bare minimum. The vast majority of the budget will go towards covering crew hire and travel costs as well as fulfilling backer rewards.

The Team

Andrew T. Smith - Producer

Andrew T. Smith - Photo by James Fielding Photography
Andrew T. Smith - Photo by James Fielding Photography

Andrew T. Smith is a writer and film-maker based in the North of England. In 2014, Andrew co-wrote, co-edited and executive produced, Filmed in Supermarionation, a feature length documentary about the puppet masterpieces created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson and their talented team in 1960s Britain. Continuing his Anderson association, Andrew was invited to contribute scripts to the forthcoming revival of Gerry Anderson's Terrahawks for Big Finish Productions.

Andrew is also the author of Marx and Re-Marx: Creating and Re-Creating the Lost Marx Brothers Radio Series.

Tommy José Stathes - Consulting Producer

Tommy Jose Stathes - Photo by Joel Esquite
Tommy Jose Stathes - Photo by Joel Esquite

Tommy José Stathes is an early animation historian, archivist, and preservationist based in New York City. His love for cartoons began in infancy, while his passion for learning about history came along a little later – at the wise old age of five. A proliferation of cheap and cheerful releases of animated cartoons during the VHS era fueled Tommy's passion, particularly the silent era. When he turned to history books for further information on the period, he was surprised to discover how few of these earlier cartoons were available for viewing. This set him out on a mission to find more of them – and the rest is history.

In his work, Tommy aims to entertain and educate others about animation history and antique film technology through live presentations and to gradually make archival films available to worldwide audiences and scholars.

Stephen La Rivière – Associate Producer

In 2014, he produced, directed, co-wrote and co-edited the feature length documentary, Filmed in Supermarionation, based upon his book of the same name. This warmly received theatrical release is the latest in a long line of successes from La Rivière.

Justin T. Lee – Post-Production and Design

A lifelong animation enthusiast, Justin has animated for music videos, television spots and films, as well as taught animation techniques like clay animation and drawing on film to students of all ages. He most recently designed and led post-production for the feature documentary Filmed in Supermarionation.

David Graham Hicks – Cinematographer

David is a cameraman and cinematographer with over twenty years industry experience. Most recently, he acted as lighting cameraman for the puppetry sequences shot in a 1960s film style for the documentary Filmed in Supermarionation.

Risks and challenges

As with any prospective film project, the availability of contributors can often not be guaranteed until much closer to the time. As such, there is always the outside chance that the non-availability of an interviewee or crew-member may cause said participant to drop out or for production to be delayed. At present, we do not anticipate any issues.

All backers will receive regular production updates to be kept abreast of any issues and progress.

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    EARLY BIRD'S DIGITAL DOWNLOAD SPECIAL

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    EARLY BIRD'S DELUXE DIGITAL SPECIAL

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    DELUXE DIGITAL

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    EARLY BIRD'S DVD SPECIAL

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    EARLY BIRD'S BLU-RAY SPECIAL

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    INTERVIEWER

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    INTERVIEWER + DVD

    Propose up to five questions that will be put to our on-camera interviewees. Their answers will be edited and sent to you as a digital download and might even make it into the film!

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    PREMIERE + DVD

    The Deluxe Digital Package PLUS an invite to the film's UK or US theatrical premiere.

    Also Includes: A Kickstarter Exclusive DVD of the completed film with unique bonus features PLUS access to Cartoon Carnival Kickstarter Backers Updates, featuring exclusive updates and first-look clips from the film.

    NOTE: Travel and Accommodation not included.

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    INTERVIEWER + BLU-RAY

    Propose up to five questions that will be put to our on-camera interviewees. Their answers will be edited and sent to you as a digital download and might even make it into the film!

    Also Includes: A Kickstarter Exclusive BLU-RAY of the completed film with unique bonus features PLUS access to Cartoon Carnival Kickstarter Backers Updates, featuring exclusive updates and first-look clips from the film.

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    Pledge £65 or more About $102

    PREMIERE + BLU-RAY

    The Deluxe Digital Package PLUS an invite to the film's UK or US theatrical premiere.

    Also Includes: A Kickstarter Exclusive BLU-RAY of the completed film with unique bonus features PLUS access to Cartoon Carnival Kickstarter Backers Updates, featuring exclusive updates and first-look clips from the film.

    NOTE: Travel and Accommodation not included.

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    SCREENING

    We grant you the rights to screen the film at a venue of your choice and will provide you with an exclusive taped introduction from the director and the opportunity to host a post-film Q&A via Skype. (Also includes Deluxe Digital Package)

    NOTE: Screening venue, projection and technical concerns are the responsibility of the backer.

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    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

    You will be credited as an executive producer on the film. (Includes Deluxe Digital and Premiere rewards)

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Funding period

- (33 days)