Exeter Animation Festivals is unique amongst animation festivals (the ones we’ve visited anyway) in that it’s aimed as much (if not slightly more) at the local population as it is at the visiting animation industry.
Occasionally this results in 2 year olds screaming their way through a seminar with Peppa Pig Producer Phil Davies because their Mum saw the brochure and couldn’t be bothered to read the description. This is at first mildly vexing, as the audience is divided between animators frantically scribbling notes, the parents trying to hush their children, and the children shouting for George.
But soon you realise that what you’re seeing is the reason most of us get in to animation in the first place – to create these reactions where kids are so emotionally involved with the characters you’ve brought to life that they genuinely believe in them. It reminds you that you’re not creating work for other animators – normally so cynical and film weary that you have to scratch your drawings in to bark or something to impress them, but people. Actual people who love films and animation and stories.
With the lack out outlets for short films at the moment, even a very successful film can suffer from a lack of audiences outside the animation community. Unless a short is Oscar nominated, it can be triumphed and heralded at festivals from Annecy to Hiroshima, but it’s unlikely to be seen by many people who don’t have a direct interest in animation. I think that’s sad and occasionally pretty depressing, but then I go to a festival like Exeter. I see actual people watching films and loving them and I remember why I make them.
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