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In this film a plain egg meets numerous decorated eggs -- all beautiful and fragile. The plain egg risks becoming a decorated egg, too.
In this film a plain egg meets numerous decorated eggs -- all beautiful and fragile. The plain egg risks becoming a decorated egg, too.
75 backers pledged $5,863 to help bring this project to life.

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More festivals and other adventures....

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Festivals 

 It was just over a year ago that we finished creating “Into the Ovoid: An Ovella” and since then I've been entering festivals. A lot of festivals, as long as the submission fees are less than $20. Being cheap lands me in lesser tier events, but that turns out to fit well with a whacky, whimsical labor of love like Into the Ovoid by a filmmaker who has no interest in 'making it' in the film world! 

I told you in May about getting accepted at Animfest 2016 and Flying Frame Independent Film Festival. It turns out the film generated intense discussion at Flying Frame, both the night of the screening and the next day! Sandra Thomas, one of the festival directors, kindly shared with me audience interpretations that ranged from spiritual to aspirational, all the way to a celebration of interracial marriage! 

 

Needless to say, it was gratifying to think of our little film out there in the world touching the lives of strangers, and I am proud to have received one of only three awards given: an Honorable Mention, the festival directors' choice. 

Meanwhile, the film has gone on to being accepted at the following additional festivals:

The last film festival I entered will be sending out judging status notifications around April 30, 2017. After that I hope to post the film online without the restriction of a password. 

I’m not sure when, if ever, I will attempt Phase 3 of the "Into the Ovoid" project; that’s the part where I create an interactive online experience for users to move and turn virtual Pysanky around on the screen at their own pace. If anyone has any ideas for how to make something like that happen at not too great expense, I’m all ears.

Other Adventures

While we were working on the film in 2015, I wondered what unexpected connections and opportunities might arise from having the film out there in the festival circuit. Besides a showing and Q&A at a retirement community in April 2016, nothing had come up. Then in September, a work colleague from the 1990s found me on LinkedIn. He was intrigued by the film's trailer, and then asked, after seeing the whole film on vimeo, whether I would be willing to give a guest presentation at the Texas S.T.E.A.M. Summit in Houston, Texas. After he explained what S.T.E.A.M. is, I said, "yes, absolutely!" 

STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics; this is a movement to include the arts in traditional curricula that focus on STEM. The summit is designed for independent and public school teachers and is hosted by The Village School in collaboration with MIT. I will be presenting "Into the Ovoid" Patterns in Motion on Saturday, January 14, 12:45 - 2:30 p.m. My presentation slides (with Notes) are here.

Since leaving school I haven’t thought much about pre-college education, except maybe being glad I got my early education in the 1960s and 70s. I might have railed against the current lamentable lack of civics training, or felt lucky not to be caught up in the pressures of frequent standardized testing, but that’s about it. In the past month, though, I have been thinking a lot about what young people need to learn to prepare for a future of gainful employment in a world where automation will eliminate all but the most non-routine and cognitively intense jobs. And how do activities in the arts prepare students for technical jobs that don’t yet exist?

I got lucky back in the 80s, being able to catch a wave of new high tech jobs on just the strength of some writing skills honed in the humanities during graduate school and a 6-month Certificate in Electronics. I was able to grow into my expertise on the job. By the late 1990s I would have had to have a computer science related degree to get anywhere near the profession I was in.

So as I prepared my S.T.E.A.M. presentation over the past few weeks, I asked myself what happens in making Pysanky and making a film that intersects with STEM. What about a Pysanka or animating a Pysanka on film, can inspire or facilitate learning in science and math? 

The main points of my presentation reflect the times we live in:

  • An art project can be a gateway to explorations in STEM disciplines. 
  • Art can express resistance and dissent, while STEM disciplines are easily co-opted by authoritarianism. 
  • Success in the STEM disciplines requires the same kinds of creativity, imagination, and focus that is integral to making art. 
  • Elevating the arts as a critical factor in job readiness could open technical learning and careers to more girls and women. 

Meanwhile, Spring is still a ways off, but I’ll be starting up with making Pysanky again very soon. Ideas have been piling up and it’ll be great to try them all out.

Until next time,

Tina

Accepted at two festivals, so far...

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Into the Ovoid was accepted at Athens ANIMFEST 2016 in Athens Greece. It screened in the Experimental category in mid-April. It did not receive an award, but still...

Into the Ovoid was also accepted for inclusion at Flying Frame Film Festival in Simpson, Illinois, May 20-21, a festival celebrating guerrilla filmmaking. Seems like a good fit!

Over the last months, I have been steadily submitting Into the Ovoid to more and more film festivals. This too, like every other feature of this project, has required scrabbling up a steep learning path. I knew of Sundance and Cannes, even Tribeca and Toronto. I found out that while once filmmakers packaged up a reel or a DVD or some other screening medium and sent it in with a filmography and a fee, today there are online submission platforms with names like Filmfreeway, Withoutabox, and Reelport. And with point-and-shoot digital filmmaking, the greater volume of movies being made has led to a huge number of film festivals springing up across the globe. There are thousands, and many distinguish themselves by having a narrow mission or theme. Or they focus on one or another genre: shorts, features, experimental, horror, documentary, and so on. You can find festivals that include webisodes, iphone movies, screenplays, music videos, or video games. And festival categories range from live action to animation, narrative or non-narrative, fiction or non-fiction.

Last summer, I submitted an early version of Into the Ovoid to the Toronto International Film Festival. That didn't pan out. In hindsight I can see that it really couldn't. A festival like Toronto may say they are looking for independent filmmakers, but they don't mean some accidental untrained filmmaker amateur like me, no matter how skillfully Abbott Imaging made the film. The big, well-known festivals are akin to professional conferences. They draw attendance and attention with big names in film. They also seek to be the first to discover new talent, launch careers, and make a big splash in the entertainment industry. They are insider networking event.

I am not launching a film career. I'm not even a film enthusiast. Film was just the medium I needed to solve the problem of showing my pysanky in the round. Animation was just the method that worked. The story practically wrote itself and demanded a mix of techniques, so Into the Ovoid isn't even pure animation! It's not naturally ideal material for most festival programmers. But I felt I somehow needed to try getting the film screened at a festival somewhere. So at this point I have submitted the film to 39 film festivals that looked reasonably suitable and had low or no entry fees. So far I have collected 9 rejections, 2 acceptances, and am still waiting for notification from another 28. Please scroll down to the end of this update for the list of those 28.

Meanwhile, there are several additional experiments spinning off from this project. One is an extended version of the film's pysanky-making scene in which I narrate an explanation of what I am doing. This 6:42 minute clip is now on vimeo, publicly available.

Abbott Imaging also has an outtake of the egg breaking sequence in the works. And I am going to try to create a blog series describing some behind-the-scenes, under-the-hood details about how we made Into the Ovoid.

Here are the 28 festivals I submitted to that I have not heard back from yet:

  • NYC Downtown Short Film Festival, Duo Multicultural Arts Center, NYC June 8-11, 2016 
  • Nonplussed Fest, LA, CA June 17-19, 2016 
  • Haverhill Experimental Film Festival, Haverhill, MA July 22-24, 2016  
  • Festival du Film Merveilleux et Imaginaire, Paris, France June 30 - July 2, 2016 
  • Womanimation, Providence, RI June 25, 2016 
  • Stop Motion Barcelona Festival, Barcelona, Spain, June 26, 2016 
  • Turku Animated Film Festival, Turku, Finland August 25–28, 2016 
  • WNY Western New York Film Art and Music Event, Albion, NY, July 22 - August 8, 2016 
  • Fantouche Internationales Festival, Baden, Switzerland, Septebmer 6-11, 2016 
  • Les Femmes Underground Film Festival, LA, CA August 13, 2016 
  • Defy Film Festival, Nashville, TN, August 19, 2016 
  • IN.S.A.N.E. film festival, London, UK, 9-11 September 2016 
  • Ottawa Animation Film Festival, September 21-25, 2016 
  • Anibar Animation Festival, Peja, Kosovo, 15-21 August 2016 
  • Arlington International Film Festival, Boston area, October 27-30, 2016 
  • Cinema Systers Film Festival, Paducah KY, Sept 9-11, 2016 
  • Antimatter, Victoria BC, October 14 to 29, 2016  
  • Seattle Shorts Film Festival, Seattle, WA, Nov 11 – 13 2016 
  • SoDak Motion Festival, Brookings, South Dakota, October 26-28, 2016 
  • Toronto Arthouse Film Festival Toronto, Ontario, Canada, September 17-18, 2016 
  • Somerville International Film Festival, Somerville, MA, October 10-13, 2016 
  • 3D Wire, International Animation, Video Games and New Media Market, Segovia, Spain, October 3rd – 9th 2016 
  • ArtLightenment, Nashville, TN, Nov 10-12, 2-16 
  • Gigantic Incandescent Resonating Animation Festival, Calgary, Alberta, November 24-27, 2016 
  • Mirror Mountain Film Festival, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, December 2-4, 2016 
  • Berlin Experimental Film Festival, Berlin, Germany, December 17-18, 2016 
  • Canada Shorts, multiple locations, December 10 – 11, 2016 
  • The International Festival of Animated Objects, Calgary, Alberta, March 8-22, 2017 

DVDs at last, but...

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For backers only. If you're a backer of this project, please log in to read this post.

The film is done!

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AT LAST! At long, long, long, long, long last. FINALLY.

I wanted a film I wouldn't get tired of watching. And finally, on December 27, 2015, we completed a version of Into the Ovoid that is as good as we can make it. All the little problems and omissions in the version that we screened for the premiere 9 months ago are now resolved.

Of course the film I saw in my head three years ago was different. That dream film can only be shot in zero gravity featuring self-powered eggs dancing to the lush strains of copyrighted music. The film that Abbott Imaging and I made instead is a stop action animation trying not to look like it was all shot at an earthly 1G. It's more than just dancing eggs, and thanks to some terrific musicians, it has an original soundtrack.

My next step is to get DVDs ordered. Here's the DVD label I designed:

A rectangular version of this design is the cover image of the online video. The film is posted for viewing and download at:

vimeo.com/intotheovoid/movie

It is password protected. I will send the password to each of you who supported at levels that include a DVD. If you don't receive a notice from me, check for a private message on the Kickstarter site, or request the password from me via the contact form on IntoTheOvoid.com.

Into the Ovoid is 18:09 minutes (including the title sequence and credits). Unrendered, the film is over a terabyte of data. The video file is up to 3.01 GB for the HD 1080p version.

When I get the DVDs back from the manufacturer, I will be sending them out along with pysanky for those of you who supported at that level. I've been thinking about one-of-a-kind pysanky designs that match the generosity of your support. I can choose from among my best existing pysanky, but I am also making some pysanky from scratch for supporters who made special requests. Turns out, responding to requests opens up new inspirations. Here's a sampling:

Over the next months, we're going to try our luck with some more film festivals. At some point in the future, maybe I'll find a distribution that recoups some of my costs. I'm not expecting success in either area, though. For one thing, this is a very oddball film. For another, I have zero contacts in the film world that can guide me in raising interest on the festival circuit or with distributors. You never know though...anything could happen.

By the time this whole project is completed, the total cost will probably be around $35,000. I have long since spent the $7,373 my financial supporters so generously contributed and since then have been raiding my savings! But I love the outcome. I hope all my supporters on kickstarter feel the same!

Happy New Year, 

Tina

Editing, tweaking, editing some more....

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It's October and the film is still not done. I apologize for keeping you waiting so long for a new update. And for this unforeseen delay in finishing the film! We are much closer to done, thanks to slow, steady progress all summer long. And we now have only one scene left to get ready for a final bundling. But even then, when all the edited scenes are rendered together, I will still want us to tweak the transitions and make some global edits to smoothe out the overall visual and aural experience before burning it to DVD. 

This final editing we've been doing hasn't only been the kind where you cut things away. It has to do with adding a zoom here or a particular crop there in support of the narrative flow. It has to do with making sure there are no signs of a string or bit of putty or a smudge left behind. Abbott Imaging certainly has had their hands full refining the many animation effects and polishing up 35,000 images. For example, where a string crosses in front of another egg's pattern, that thin path through the pattern has to be restored painstakingly by hand so the egg looks like it would have had there never been that gap. Since we had to leave some sections out of the premiere version, putting them in now has meant also doing those myriad small edits on thousands of frames. It has been incredibly time consuming, mind numbing, eye pulverizing, and shoulder tightening work. 

And of course this isn't the only project any of us is working on, so here we are still at it after all these months. But I have to say, after reviewing the film's scenes hundreds of times, I've never once been bored, never once felt sick of watching, never once wanted to call it a day or cut a corner. I've provided my feedback to Abbott Imaging, and then reviewed the next versions until, after many iterations, each scene looks like something I can imagine an audience will love.

It turns out that in a film showing the adventures of a bunch of decorated eggs there is always something to notice or be surprised by, even after multiple viewings. It's a richly textured story, for one. And each egg has patterns for you to look at. When multiple decorated eggs are in motion together on the screen, the patterns can play off each other in cool ways. With each viewing, there's more to see. This is what keeps me pushing along, however slowly. 

After inching along so slowly for so long, I won't now speculate when the film will be completely finished or when I can get all of the rest of the Kickstarter rewards fulfilled. I'll just hope this last bit of work we are doing doesn't take too much longer, our schedules permitting. 

Thank you for your patience. I am totally convinced it'll be worth the wait! Here is a tiny snippet from Act 2 that I have posted on Google Drive.

Click on the image to play the clip.
Click on the image to play the clip.