FESTIVAL REPORT: Master Animation Class with Bill Plympton

Bill Plympton’s drawing for Donna Crain —
By Donna Crain
Workshops and Panels Coordinator and BIFF DigiComm Commando
On Saturday, February 18, Academy Award nominee and Cannes-award-winning animator and filmmaker, Bill Plympton, kicked off BIFF’s 2012 Workshop Series with a Master Animation Class held in the Canyon Theater at the Boulder Public Library. Plympton charmed the house with drawing demonstrations interspersed with film clips, telling hilarious stories while advising how to make it as an independent artist. 
Bill Plympton addresses his Master Animation Class. [Donna Crain]
Plympton joked, “People say negotiating with Disney is not so much good cop/bad cop as good cop/anti-Christ. I had to say no (to them.) But it’s a question we all have to ask ourselves. If you want to work for Disney, you’ll make a lot of money, have health benefits (which I don’t.) You’ll work on a film that is seen by millions of people. But I’m a little underground.” He went on to encourage attendees to follow their passion, giving specific advice on how they could make a living if they chose to remain independent as he has done.

He also took questions from the audience. When asked about his process, Plympton noted that he still drew with pencil on paper, having people in his studio scan each hand drawn image into the computer. “I just really love drawing pencil on paper,” Plympton shared, “I’ve been doing it since I was three. There’s something precious about the sound and the feel.” That is best evidenced by how prolific he is, arriving at his studio around six each morning, and completing between 120 and 150 drawings per day. 

And, while that may seem like a lot of drawing, “a feature length film is about 30,000 images,” he told the crowd.

With attendees ranging from kids just starting out as animators, to an older, self-proclaimed lifelong fan, Plympton made himself accessible to all after the workshop. He chatted and signed autographs,  sending everyone off with a “Dog” drawing and the impression that they had just spent a memorable morning with an incredibly cool dude.
Bill doing the sgining thing for fans. [Donna Crain]