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Tips for online animators

Wednesday, Aug 8 2001
"How much are people going to pay for your animation?" muses financial analyst Stuart Lerner of Mondo Media, the S.F. online entertainment company, pondering every animator's primary query. "Less than you want, but more than you deserve." Lerner's sitting on a panel dubbed "That One Hurt: But Life (and the Internet) Goes On" at the World Animation Celebration in L.A. this week. The title is apt: Although the number of online animated series shrunk by roughly 50 percent in the last 12 months, according to Lerner, there's still a solid core audience of men in their teens and 20s.

"Syndicators are looking for a property they can continue, not something that runs for two or three episodes," Lerner advises animators. "Design your piece so it can go online, wireless, or play as a short on TV or cable. Don't focus on one avenue." Lerner points to TV's evolution from sponsored shows like Texaco Star Theater With Milton Berle to commercials to the next step -- commercial-free shows packed with product placements -- as the road map for entertainment on the Net. "It's a new medium, but it's an old business," Lerner declares. "That's what people lost sight of in the last year."

The Last of England Tilda Swinton's S.F. connections run deep, from her collaborations with Bay Area director Lynn Hershman Leeson (Conceiving Ada and Teknolust) to the local popularity of her own star turns (Orlando and Derek Jarman's films) to her crunching, powerful, relentless performance in S.F. filmmakers Scott McGehee and David Siegel's The Deep End (opening Aug. 15). "It felt [like] we were fellow travelers," says Swinton about choosing to work with the sophomore co-directors. "I personally don't subscribe to the kind of national boundaries of filmmaking. I slice the cake horizontally rather than vertically. If you get into national slicings, you get into all sorts of hot water. Sylvester Stallone is an American filmmaker and so is Harmony Korine. Then you're up the spout, really. You have to employ some Marxist dialectic, and realize that it's a class question."

In her words, Swinton has been "slumming it" recently. "I've made a couple of visitations to industrial sites [Cameron Crowe's Vanilla Sky, Spike Jonze's Adaptation] because I was contacted in a fellow- traveler way." In Sky, did she have scenes with Tom Cruise? "I have scene with Cruise," she replies drolly. During her recent publicity stopover, Swinton found time to meet again with Leeson; they added a film about Hedy Lamarr to the list of projects they're developing. "We're settling into a wonderful laboratory atmosphere," she confided.

I've Heard the Mermaids Singing Local filmmakers are making good all over the place: Señorita Extraviada, Lourdes Portillo's long-awaited exposé of the kidnapping, rape, and murder of more than 200 women in Juarez, screens tonight, Aug. 8, in the Film Arts Foundation's "True Stories" series at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. ... Caveh Zahedi's video diary, In the Bathtub of the World, airs Aug. 15 on the Independent Film Channel. ... Elizabeth Thompson's doc portrait of a skinhead's troubled search for redemption, Blink, received an Emmy nomination. ... When Jim McKay's fresh Brooklyn saga, Our Song, played the S.F. International Film Festival in 2000, this space lamented the movie's difficulty in getting distribution. It finally opens here Friday at the Lumiere and the Shattuck, courtesy of IFC Films, and it's as affecting as ever.

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Michael Fox


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