Thursday, April 29, 2010

ASIFA-East and You

Pictured above, just a sampling of the world-class veterans of NYC animation found in ASIFA-East. From top to bottom and left to right are Xeth Feinberg, Candy Kugel, Debra Solomon, Emily Hubley, Signe Baumane, George Griffin, Bill Plympton, and Michael Sporn.

For lots of us in the NY animation scene, ASIFA-East is as necessary as oxygen. Despite recent signs of growth, most jobs are still on a short-term basis, be they in-house or offsite. That could be a good recipe for an isolated and fractionated community, were it not for ASIFA-East bringing people together––from retired veterans to students (along with everyone in between). I can't even calculate how important ASIFA-East has been for me both personally and professionally. Over the years it has provided connections, contacts, opportunities, and inspiration––all of which helped me persevere through hard times as well as give me confidence to dream big and create a career of my choice.

The oft-repeated Woody Allen quote "90% of success is showing up," could well apply to ASIFA-East. When you attend an event (especially if you go out with the gang afterwards) you get a chance to bond, share tips, and cheer on each other's triumphs. In other words, the average ASIFA-East event is a potential networking bonanza.

I haven't shared too many details about it, but my wife and I are in the works on our own animated feature film. To start out we are producing a 10 minute short section of the larger film––something we can use as a pitch vehicle and a festival film to (hopefully) help secure funding and distribution. To lay the proper foundation for the production that will follow, we needed just the right storyboard artist, one that perfectly matched our very specific vision for the project. For months we've been searching on and off. But, the search came to a happy ending recently, thanks to ASIFA-East.

After one of the March jury screenings a bunch of us went to the nearby Rodeo Bar to unwind and discuss the films we just saw over some beer and burgers. Near the end of the night, an old animation friend of mine joined us at the table and stayed for a drink. And, hearing about the types of projects that he'd been working on, a light clicked on in my head: maybe he'd be our perfect storyboard artist?

When I got home my wife and I checked out his website portfolio and got more proof that he was our guy. The next morning I called him and we arranged to meet for coffee that afternoon. I'm happy to report that he took on our job and delivered an amazing storyboard! Best of all, he told me, "I felt as if this was my project, something I was doing just for fun." That's what every producer wants to hear! Despite the fact that it was a paid gig, the project felt personal to him. Needless to say, if we are able to secure funding for the feature, he'll be the first person we'll call. Details about this project and those involved will be disclosed at a future time.

The important thing is that without ASIFA-East bringing us together, I would have never thought of this artist for this particular opportunity. For one thing, we'd never worked together, despite co-existing for years in the NY animation community. For over forty-five years ASIFA-East has been providing a priceless service to this community. Despite how much or how little one participates in everything ASIFA-East has to offer (monthly screenings, free drawing classes, an annual festival, a facebook group, a digital on-line newsletter with blogs, articles, event reports, and events calender) I think it's safe to say we'd all miss it if it were gone. Plug into the community and make or renew a few of your own connections by joining us on Sunday May 9th for our annual Animation festival. See ya there!

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