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Crowd Funding Watch: Bill Plympton’s Animated Feature ‘Cheatin” [Interview]

A variety of comics projects have taken to Kickstarter and IndieGoGo in order to get readers to pony-up the cash needed to create print collections, and while it’s easy to consider this crowd-sourced avenue a mainstay of independent books today, it’s worth remembering that Kickstarter is only three-years-old as a platform. And though the website has grown to encompass a variety of artistic endeavours, it started as a way for indie filmmakers to find alternatives to the often hesitant studios that wouldn’t back more obscure projects.

This week, ComicsAlliance is taking a look at a project that follows in the vein of Kickstarter’s roots as we talk with animator and cartoonist Bill Plympton about his campaign for his new feature-length film, Cheatin’, breaking down What It Is, How Much It Will Cost, What You Get, When You’ll Get It, and Why You Should Care.

For those unfamiliar with Plympton’s work, he might be best known lately for his collaboration with the musician Kayne West on the video “Heard Em Say,” and on the subsequent book Through the Wire, but Plympton has been receiving critical praise for decades following an Academy Award nomination in 1987 for his short film, Your Face, that ran on MTV. In 2008, he was named “Cartoonist of the Year” by the museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, and recently created one of the halmark couch-gag scenes for an episode of The Simpsons.

Plympton’s most recent film, Idiots and Angels, was lauded by critics from the New York Times and Variety as being his best work to date, but he believes Cheatin’ will be even better as he’s learned more and more over the course of six feature-length projects, perhaps even being his breakthrough work to greater mainstream recognition and success.

Passion doesn’t pay the bills, however, and although Plympton has financed the film up to this point, he’s run out of money. “Studios don’t really like my work,” he told ComicsAlliance. “They want computer-animated kid stuff.” So, he’s taken to Kickstarter to finish the project.


What It Is: A roughly 75-minute animated film that’s a metaphor for modern love, following the story of two people who start becoming jealous and eventually try to kill one another.

“People freak out and get excited when they see this — it’s beautiful artwork,” Plymptons said, “like watercolor animation. And it’s helping someone who’s fighting against the mega corporate world of the traditional system who don’t usually back something done by one artist. If this is successful, then doing this might show that anyone can really make a film.”

How Much It’ll Cost: $75,000. So, a sizable amount. Still, relatively nothing compared to the budget of most movies of similar quality and running time.

What You’ll Get It: $10 gets you a limited-time stream of Cheatin’, a download of some of Plympton’s other work for $25, $40 for a DVD of the film, $100 for an original animation cel from the film, $1,000 for an original caricature, all the way up to $10,000 for an associate producer credit and tickets to the New York screening.


When You’ll Get It: November 2013, but Plympton hopes to be finished with the film by June of next year and submit it to the Toronto Film Festival, but at the latest by September for Sundance, and, of course, in time for the Academy Awards. But that all hinges on the campaign reaching its funding goal.

Why You Should Care: Plympton has been an independent animator and cartoonist for decades, so his standards of quality are higher than the average novice taking to Kickstarter for their first movie or graphic novel. Last year, he successfully funded a Kickstarter to restore Windsor McCay’s 1921 classic The Flying House. Plus, Plympton has already finished the animated portion of Cheatin’ (unlike the successfully funded campaign for The Goon, where funds were going towards completion of a story reel), the funds are primarily going to pay a team of colorists to finish the whole production. The team is made up of mostly recent graduates from the School of Visual Arts, so you can feel good about donating some money to college kids facing, you know, the worst economic downturn in nearly a century. (That’s not over yet, is it?)

“We let [SVA] know we were looking to hire, and we looked at a lot of portfolios,” said Plympton. “We had to be sure they knew the software and chose the ones we thought best. We also had to make sure they weren’t offended by nudity or graphic violence.”

When asked how much nudity and violence will be in the film, Plympton replied, “It won’t be very much. A lot of butts and a lot of humping, but mostly from the back with something tastefully covering parts — kind of ‘wink-wink nod-nod’.”

So, do your part to further an animation project meant for intelligent adults and help back Cheatin’ today.

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