Tagged: independent

Instagram Resources for Animators

It goes without saying that social media is mostly be a pointless time drain, but sometimes it can be used to insert great art and valuable influences into daily life. Recently I’ve found a few decent instagram accounts that highlight interesting animations, works to get inspiration from or resources to study. Here are a few of my favourites.

Anti-CGI is dedicated to practical effects, atmospheric stills and strange cinematic imagery. Heaps of gritty and dark influences to be found here.

A repository of captivating anime clips, 70’s japanese Tokusatsu, and manga. This instagram has so much visually dynamic and … imagery.

Animation Resources
Clips of mostly 30’s, 40’s and 50’s animations from Warner Bros, UPA, Fleischer Studios and other of that ilk. Pretty useful for what it is but all pretty mainstream ‘cartoony’ animation.

An eclectic mix of 40’s and 50’s animation, graphical illustrations and forgotten pop-culture.

There’s probably more great accounts that I haven’t found yet so if you have any good resources leave a comment. I’m working on getting www.instagram.com/undergroundanimation off the ground but I’m still trying to figure out the right settings to upload videos. When I get some free time I’ll begin uploading some interesting clips.

-Hamish S

Chronopolis (1983)

Chronopolis is a 1983 stop-motion science fiction feature from Polish director Piotr Kamler.

The film’s sparse narrative involves a group of Immortal beings who inhabit a colossal city which sits above the clouds. The Immortals spend their time constructing, sculpting and bringing to life various forms of matter. A group of mortal explorers scale a tower, and one of them loses their grip and falls. After floating through the cloudy ether for some time, they land, unconcious, on a pipe. One of the Immortal’s creations, a living orb, wakes the unconcious figure. The figure and the orb begin to dance together and journey along the pipe. The pair eventually appear before three immortals which tower over them. The faces of the Immortals begin to pit and disintergrate, as do the walls of their city and their creations. The city is engulfed in a creeping darkness. The film concludes with the explorer and living orb moving along a line through a white void.

As far as narratives go this one is pretty loose, and the events that unfold throughout the film can be interpreted a number of ways. Kamler’s UbuWeb profile states itwell; “Completely unalike to more conventionally linear and text-based narratives, Kamler’s films instead explore a series of dynamic visual motifs.”. The narrative is set by an opening crawl which details the Immortals boredom and desire. Everything else is implied visually as there is no dialogue throughout the film. The original 1982 version had narration, however in the final cut the narration was removed.

Chronopolis drifts between the borders of abstraction and figurative representation. Often, you can tell you are looking at a physical object in  3-dimensional space, but the nature of the object is obscured and incomprehensible.

You really get the sense of great age in the design of the Immortals and their city. They exhibit small imperfections, marks and physical flaws throughout their seemingly inorganic forms. Their reserved movement also betrays age, or at least apathy.  The city’s old stone panels with intricate patterns and reliefs give a feeling that it might be from a time of early agrarian pre-history, or perhaps from a far off alien culture. The world of Chronopolis seems almost devoid of colour. The muted earthy tones, of concrete or stone are only ever punctuated by the occaisonal flashes of orange or red energy.

The inventiveness of the editing and compositing throughout Chronopolis is the work of a master. Both Kamler and the Immortal figures within the film playfully manipulate time. Kamler uses rapid jumpcuts, swiftly layered wipe transitions, microcuts and undulatinglight to create the sense that the city of Chronopolis follows it’s own laws of time and entropy.

The final shot in the film is particularly telling; a human figure walking in a void and a bouncing ball following. Perhaps this is a self-reflexive reference to the form of animation itself as two of the first sequences an animator will likely learn is the simple walk cycle, and the physical properties of a bouncing ball.

The version I viewed was the final cut which ran at 52 minutes however the original 1982 version runs at 66 minutes which I am keen to get my hands on. Chronopolis‘ production ran for 5 years, from 1977-1982 with Kamler completing most of the animation and editing himself. It’s interesting to note that he recieved a grant for $400,000 by utilising a script which had nothing to do with the final film.

Chronopolis is a film which might not appeal to many viewers due to it’s sparse narrative and recurring abstractions; however I really enjoyed the fascinating world Kamler created and his masterful use of the medium to self-reflexively examine the artform. Check it out.

-Hamish S

Feature Screenplay Completed!

It’s been a while internet.

After 8 treatments and 26 drafts,  I’ve finally finished my animated feature screenplay!

It took me longer to write than I expected, or planned for, but it’s the first feature screenplay I’ve written so I needed to learn a huge amount.

It clocks in at 76 pages which is pretty short for a screenplay. The standard rule for screenplay/film length is that 1 page = 1 minute of screen time. However, this isn’t a hard rule and depends on a few factors. Mamoru Oshii’s 1985 animated feature ‘Angel’s Egg’ has a runtime of 71 minutes, yet the screenplay was supposedly only 1 page long. It really depends on the film’s style and format. My screenplay has pretty minimal dialogue and concentrates more on visual storytelling, so I’m expecting the finished film to run 80/90 minutes.

So now I’m moving on with the rest of pre-production, at the moment that’s storyboarding and art design. I’ll update more soon :D


1st Feature Script Reading

Over the weekend I finished the 11th draft of my feature script and had some friends around to do a reading of it. They gave heaps of in-depth feedback and solid critique which is what I needed. The outside perspective is really helpful as after days and days of writing you can kind of lose perspective and you miss things that don’t really make sense or aren’t particularly strong.

hamish with script

I’m going to take 6 days off the feature and then I’ll get stuck back into it with fresh eyes. I’m not sure how many drafts it’ll take until I get to the final version but It feels like I’m getting much closer.
I’m really looking forward to finishing it and getting stuck into other pieces of production which will roll out quicker.

wall of pain

Gotta keep pushing on!

– Hamish



I’ve finally finished my stint of full-time work and am back to part-time which means I’ve actually got time to work on my film, various projects and update Underground Animation regularly. It’s good to be back!

In my absence from creativity, I managed to make it to the Render Animation Conference which is part of the Melbourne International Animation Festival. The most interesting part of the conference was the panel discussion ‘How To Fund, Make & Distribute A True Indie Feature’ with Adam Elliot (AUS), Chris Sullivan (USA) and Elliot Cowan (AUS/USA). The three filmmakers discussed various aspects and experiences of their film-making process and dispensed a bunch of valuable advice to aspiring independent animators.

I’m pretty familiar with Adam Elliot’s work as he’s an independent animator/director from the city where I live (Melbourne, AUS). Chris Sullivan from Chicago came out of left field for me and was probably the filmmaker that resonated with me the most. I was previously unfamiliar with his feature film ‘Consuming Spirits‘ (2012) which took 12 years to make. From the segments he screened and talked about, the film looks startling, dark and intensely intriguing. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to see it yet but as soon as I do I’ll write up about it here. 

I’m really looking forward to seeing and talking about Sullivan’s work more as he’s an interesting character and he’s working on his second feature now. Here’s a sample nugget of wisdom from the filmmaker… “Making an animated feature is like making love and being stabbed to death at the same time”. Yup!

I also got to check out the projection of Botborg‘s ‘Principles of Photosonicneurokinaesthography’ at Kings ARI which was curated and shown by the Melbourne Video Art Society. “Botborg is an international audio-visual performance group that fuses and rewires raw electronic signals to create intensely visceral experiences of sound-colour synaesthesia.” Botborg use a custom analog electronic instrument called the ‘Photosonicneurokineasthograph’ to produce these intense abstract visuals. There’s also a great catalogue-essay ‘Collider‘ for the exhibition, on video abstraction written by MVAS by co-curator Diego Ramirez. Rad!

I’ve got a bunch of strange and rare independent animations I’ll be digging up and reviewing in the weeks to come, as well as more documentation of my feature film in progress.

-Hamish .S


I found this talk by Jonathan Blow, the creator of the 2008 independent game ‘Braid’. The talk covers content such as the best way to go about creating ‘deep work’ or long projects, how to survive these projects and how to allow yourself to receive great ideas.

The talk is really informative and you should check it out if you plan on (or are in the process of) making a large project such as a feature film, independent game or graphic novel.

Writing a good screenplay is hard!

“No shit Sherlock!” I hear you say.

Well, I’m up to the 6th draft now on the screenplay for my first feature animation. I’m finding it quite difficult as It’s my first one but I’m learning butt-loads. In saying that though the screenplay is a fucking mess and it’s taking me way longer than expected. Even on draft #6 I think it might be pretty incomprehensible and that doesn’t bode well for the film if it’s not fixed.

The main problem I’m having with it besides it’s incomprehensibility, is that it seems overly plotted out, inflexible and unsubtle. Billy Wilder said that “The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points, the better you are as a writer” and from what I’ve been reading most good screenwriters seem to agree. My plot points are anything but subtly hidden.

So I’m going to take a different approach and re-write the entire concept as a story, then turn it into a script. Starting with the main situation and setting I already have I’ll let the characters write themselves and see where it goes. I kind of know where It’s going to end up but I feel the story will flow better and seem more natural if I do it this way… or maybe not, who knows. All I know is I’ve got to get better at writing, and quickly, or my film will be z grade schlock.


– Ham