Last Days of Coney Island

Ralph Bakshi (2015)

In the cheap glitter and glow of a fading Coney Island a group of characters live out their sordid, strange lives trying to get somewhere fast – any way they can. Desperately trying to love and be loved. These cops, call girls, mafia hoods, transvestites, fortune-tellers, clowns, and freaks are all intertwined, heading on a crazy roller coaster ride into a black hole they think is life.

All of these characters are totally removed from the 60s America that, at the same time, is violently changing its values, fast. It is how hard they try, with the deck stacked against them, that we root for them in amazement. The film is done in funny hand drawn animation which makes their story even more amazing to watch. We invite you to enjoy the show.

Last Days of Coney Island is a 2015 American adult animated short film written, produced, directed and animated by Ralph Bakshi. The story concerns a NYPD detective, the sex worker he alternately loves and arrests, and the seedy characters that haunt the streets of New York City’s run-down amusement district.

Ralph Bakshi had previously pitched the film to major studios such as Pixar and DreamWorks, but was unable to find anyone who wanted to take on the project. When technology began advancing to the point where Bakshi could begin the project on a lower budget, he decided to take on the project himself and produce it independently working with a small development crew in New Mexico. Bakshi is quoted as saying that the animation is “probably higher quality than anything I ever made, at a cost so low it’s embarrassing. Everything I used to do in my old movies that required hundreds of people and huge salaries is now done in a box. It took 250 people to make Heavy Traffic, now I’m down to five. I kiss the computer every morning — f—–‘ unbelievable!”

Production was announced in 2006, attracting much interest, but no official funding, and according to Bakshi, “I had about eight minutes of film and a completed script. I thought budget was a slam dunk. For a Bakshi comeback film, it seemed like a no-brainer. […] I asked one guy [in Hollywood], ‘Should I have a budget of $150 million and pocket the rest?’ He said, ‘Yeah, but you have to make it PG'”. Bakshi ended the production to rethink his approach towards the film. Its production status was left uncertain.

On October 20, 2012, at Dallas Comic-Con: Fan Days, Ralph Bakshi participated in a Q&A where it was stated that he would take Last Days of Coney Island to Kickstarter in an attempt to crowdsource the funding.

A Kickstarter campaign was launched on February 1, 2013 to complete funding for the first short in the film. On March 3, the film was successfully funded and raised $174,195 from 1,290 backers, and Bakshi confirmed production had begun.

When the project was first announced on Kickstarter, voice actress Tina Romanus, who had previously worked with Baskhi on Wizards and Hey Good Lookin’, was confirmed to play the role of Molly, the main character’s love interest. In February 2013, actor Matthew Modine was cast in the film after coming across the film’s Kickstarter campaign online in the role of Shorty, described as “a 4-foot-tall mafia collector who thinks he’s Elvis Presley and sings like Chet Baker”.

Omar Jones ended up replacing Matthew Modine in the lead role of Short. Other voices include Ralph himself, Eddie Bakshi, Jess Gorell, Jonathan Yudis, Joey Camen and Ron Thompson.

Much of the production was aided with the use of Toon Boom Studio, computer software designed to assemble 2D animation. Ralph Bakshi is quoted as saying “Eddie [Bakshi’s son] began some coloring and refining of artwork in Photoshop then gradually moved over to doing this in Toon Boom Studio. The crossover was relatively painless. The programs worked well together. […] I set up the picture in a traditional manner then Eddie uses Toon Boom Studio to do everything else. My animator Doug Compton also uses Toon Boom Studio to assemble and send pencil tests and animatics. Toon Boom Studio essentially becomes the studio.”

Early on, Colleen Cox was announced to be the lead animator of the film. Tsukasa Kanayama was also hired as a storyboard artist, with Joseph Baptista helping with the storyboarding and also helping with some of the character designs. Animator Elana Pritchard was also hired to contribute a sequence in January 2014. British illustrator Ian Miller was hired to help with the background art for the film; Miller had previously worked with Baskhi on Wizards and Cool World.

Last Days of Coney Island premiered on Bakshi’s 77th birthday on October 29, 2015 on Vimeo. Bakshi released the film for free on YouTube on October 13, 2016.

Visit Ralph Bakshi and view his work at RalphBakshi.com.

Canada Vignettes: Faces

Paul Bochner (1978)

This short animation attempts to show the landscape of Canadians through a series of transforming faces — young, old, and from many different backgrounds — illustrating the great variety of people living in the country.

Canada Vignettes are a series of short films by the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), some of which aired on CBC Television and other Canadian broadcasters as interstitial programs. The vignettes became popular because of their cultural depiction of Canada, and because they represented its changing state, such as the vignette Faces which was made to represent the increasing cultural and ethnic diversity of Canada. The Log Driver’s Waltz directed by John Weldon set to the recording of the song by Kate & Anna McGarrigle with, and as part of, The Mountain City Four is one of the most-requested items contained in the collection by the National Film Board of Canada. A similar series was later produced in the 1990s, however the name was changed to Heritage Minutes.

Watership Down

Novel Written by Richard Adams (1972)

Film Adaptation by Martin Rosen (1978)

I have recently had the pleasure of reading Richard Adams’ 1978 novel Watership Down, and have decided that it is now among my top-three favorite novels of all time. I highly recommend reading the novel and then watching this beautifully done animation. Thanks for watching!

Richard Adams was an English novelist and writer of the books Watership DownShardik, and The Plague Dogs. Adams originally began telling the story that would become Watership Down to his two daughters on a long car trip. They eventually insisted that he publish it as a book. He began writing in 1966, taking two years to complete it. In 1972, after four publishers and three writers’ agencies turned down the manuscript, Rex Collings agreed to publish the work. The book gained international acclaim almost immediately for reinvigorating anthropomorphic fiction with naturalism. In 1974, two years after Watership Down was published, Adams became a full-time author.

Watership Down is a survival and adventure novel set in southern England, around Hampshire. The story features a small group of rabbits. Although they live in burrows in their natural wild environment, they are anthropomorphized, possessing their own culture, language, proverbs, poetry, and mythology. Evoking epic themes, the novel follows the rabbits as they escape the destruction of their warren and seek a place to establish a new home, encountering perils and temptations along the way.

The British animated adventure-drama film adaptation of Watership Down was released in 1978 and was written, produced, and directed by Martin Rosen and based on the 1972 novel by Richard Adams. It was financed by a consortium of British financial institutions and was distributed by Cinema International Corporation in the United Kingdom.

It features the voices of John Hurt, Richard Briers, Harry Andrews, Simon Cadell, Nigel Hawthorne and Roy Kinnear, among others, and was the last film work of Zero Mostel, as the voice of Kehaar the gull. The musical score was by Angela Morley and Malcolm Williamson. Art Garfunkel’s hit song Bright Eyes was written by songwriter Mike Batt.

Animation Supervisor: Philip Duncan

Animation Director: Tony Guy

Senior Animators: Arthur Humberstone, George Jackson, Tony Guy, and Philip Duncan

Animators: Edric Raddage, Bill Littlejohn, Ruth Kissane, John Perkins, Ralph Ayres, Brian Foster, Chris Evans, Marie Szmichowska, Alan Simpson, Colin White, Doug Jensen, Bill Geach, Spud Houston, and Barrie Nelson

Nuggets

Andreas Hykade (2014)

Kiwi tastes a golden nugget. It’s delicious.

Is the high worth the dependency you are eventually burdened by?

Script, direction, animation: Andreas Hykade

Animation, artwork: Angela Steffen

Music, sound design: Heiko Maile

Postproduction: Ralf Bohde

Production management: Bianca Just

Funding: FFA Berlin

Production: Thomas Meyer-Hermann

Studio: FILM BILDER 2014