Sunday, February 28, 2010

wow. chicago sunday times

this made my day. thank you sir!

The Oscar mystery nomination: The Secret of Kells

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01-1.jpg• Robert Tan of Taiwan

"Wait until you see the rest of my forest," says Aisling, before she leads Brendan to the top of an oak tree. That remark by a guardian of the forest describes "Brendan and the Secret of Kells." This deceptively simple story of a young Irish monk has hidden dimensions beneath its lush, exuberant visuals. To praise its beauty alone becomes an understatement. Its beautifully realised storytelling is rich in symbols, analogies and themes, some obvious and others not so, that give weight and meaning to a seemingly uncomplicated story, set against a mixture of history, fantasy, reality and myth.

You'd think that with many things going on, the film is bound to sag beneath its weight. Quite the opposite, it all appears maddeningly effortless (even too effortless). That alone is an accomplishment seldom equalled by other films that strive for the same feat. Filmwise, this is a welcome change from the cheap thrills, easy profundity and flat storytelling that are rampant in today's movies. Whether or not the storytelling is masterful will depend on how the movie reveals itself to you. "Brendan and the Secret of Kells" does not lend itself easily, always requiring a certain presence of mind to fully grasp it. It gives viewers a true cerebral movie-going experience. More importantly, it avoids selling its sentiments easily. It combines intricate visuals and intricate storytelling, like the motifs of the Chi Rho page of the "Book of Kells."


Brendan and the Secret of Kells. The titular character Brendan is a young monk of the Abbey of Kells, which is enclosed within a fortified village. His strict uncle, the Abbott Cellach, forbids him to go outside the walls of the fort. Hence, Brendan lives a somewhat cloistered life, even by the standard of monks. This is set sometime around 9th century Ireland, when Vikings were plundering villages "in search of gold." One day, a refugee and his cat arrive in Kells: Brother Aidan of Iona and THE adorable Pangur Bán. A foremost illuminator of his time, Aidan brings with him the unfinished Book of Iona, a treasure to the sect that was founded by St. Columba. (This Book is later to become the Book of Kells, a heritage and source of cultural pride for the Irish people.) Sensing that Brendan has the will to go beyond the restrictive, avuncular love of the Abbot, Aidan recruits the young boy to be his disciple in the art of Illuminating the Texts. There begin Brendan's adventures and his coming of age, where reality meets fantasy.

"I'm dazed and confused." Now in case you're wondering what the term "illuminating" means, it is the art of drawing monograms and such that accompany sacred texts, e.g., the Gospels transcribed to Latin. In essence, it could either be as a means of glorifying God through use of one's artistic talents, or to give the texts they "illuminate" a mystic feel. Whichever the reason, don't let it discourage you from seeing this wonderful film. I can assure you that the film does not even attempt to preach the faith. In fact, some of the film's thematic elements may even be deemed as anti-clergical, though this is not ultimately its goal. What the film partly does is entice you to go do some historical research. The film touches on Irish heritage, history and mythology. I imagine that its educational value will have more relevance to the Irish diaspora. But even for kids, this film becomes a tool for intercultural learning (resources for educational use can be found here). As for the rest of us who are not Irish, the quest and appreciation for cultural knowledge can still be mutually shared.

Its distributor,, screened it on February 27, via the NYCIFF Online Film Festival, followed by a Q&A portion with the director Tomm Moore. Mr. Moore, whom I will term a modern Illuminator, has brilliantly conceived and architected the ideas within "Kells." And no small wonder, for the ideas were conceived from his old college days. They have now become so coalesced, it must only be the result of precipitation over a long period of time. The flat, yet highly-crafted animation rather evokes the style of 2D '70s cartoons, with their skewed perspectives and angled renderings. But it all comes alive with details, lush imagery and colors of emerald green, monolithic gray, amaranth purple and ochre; of which the latter two must have been inspired by the colors of the Chi Rho Page (one of the most stylised and intricate pages inside the Book of Kells). And, the Celtic beat of Bruno Coulais' music gives the film rustic redolence of folk Ireland.

Anne Thompson talks with director Tomm Moore , Part 1:

Saturday, February 27, 2010


It went really well...great questions, smart kids .
We had fun and spent a while drawinga nd signing stuff afterwards.

I think I'm the only nominee from the animation feature category who filled out their questionaire so far! - Again thanks Jamie f0r sending it on to me :)

Friday, February 26, 2010

New York

Here in New York with the lovely Liselott.
We are snowed in! My tv interviews cancelled...we're still snug in bed in an apartment
Gkids Eric Beckman organised for us. just hope our plane to LA still works out!
Tonight should be the opening of the NYICFF and tommorow we are supposed to be going to
the Emerald Ball...hope its all still possible in this snowstorm!

Anyway pretty cool link below- its a bit surreal to be reviewed on NPR.
only moan I have is they compared the movement to Saturday Morning cartoons! Jeesh.
Stylised animation is different to limited...ahh maybe they meant Samurai Jack? I'll take it as a compliement if so!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Oscar Party LA

Jonathon Loughran of the Irish film Board has organised a party to accomodate any of the cast or crew of the Irish nominees heading out to LA -

Sunday 7th March

3pm- ??? Irish Oscar viewing party

Dillon’s Irish Pub

6263 Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90028

(323) 315-9744

Given that you will have so many filmmakers, family and friends in LA for the big day, I have arranged for a reserved area in the recently opened Dillon’s Irish Pub on Hollywood Blvd, which is ¾ mile away from the Kodak Theatre. The upstairs area is held for the entire Irish group so please feel free to invite as many people as you like to view the red carpet and ceremony together on their multiple TVs. The place will get packed early so please ask everyone to get there as close to 3pm (when the red carpet telecast begins) to get a spot. Please note this is not a hosted event, but all bottle and tap beer is $3, house wine $4, so we won’t find a better deal in Hollywood! RTE will be covering this event and hope to conduct interviews with the travelling support, so have your smiles ready for the cameras….

Monday, February 22, 2010

Online shop

Hey Folks,

On our online store you'll find new stock just in of the Secret of Kells picture book and The Secret of Kells CDs featuring beautiful music by Kila and Bruno Coulais!

I spent some time today making sketches and dedications to the fabulous people who bought the DVD and I'm happy to make many more for those of you who purchase it from our online store!

The ideal gift yes indeedy.

Oh Boy. Good stuff at great prices.

Be the first in your neighbourhood to own exclusive Kells merchandise! Yes sir!



We had a lovely night at the IFTAS on Saturday, with great success in winning the animation category and i got a nice "rising star" award too.
Paul should have a few photos up soon, all sorts of stars there , its mad the people we are meeting these days, Liselott got her photo taken with Colin Farrell and Jonathon Rhys Meyers and I even got snapped with Grainne Seoige! Class.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Oscar Luncheon

pauls snaps on

Monday, February 15, 2010

Oscars luncheon

Quite a cool event it must be said. Everyone on the same level almost, we chatted a little bit with all sorts of superstars and other nominees .
The maddest thing is when really famous people introduce themselves.
Do you say "yeh I know" or not?

Oscars Luncheon

after a relaxing Sunday hanging out woth fellow irish nominees topped off by a lovely vegan dinner with new found animation friends its time for the oscar luncheon.
just feels unreal to be honest, the list of people who will be there....

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dublin Airport

Here I go again...LA for the Oscars Luncheon on Monday.


Friday, February 12, 2010

British Animation Awards

Still hoping some Uk distributor will pick up Kells? Me too.

In the meantime heres the British animation awards showcase.
They are screening not just Kells but our very classy European feature finalists in March.
Lascars, Panique Au village, Mia et le Migou (which won the EFA!).

What a great year for animated films its been, both in America and Europe.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Oscar Parties

I just want to post this here as I don't have email for all the crew anymore.
Ross Murray is sending out an APB to anyone thinking about coming to LA during Oscar week.
I hope as many of crew can join us , though i understand its expensive in these recessionary times.
You are all with us in spirit at least -

Hi Everyone,

Just to keep you all updated with the situation in regards to the Oscars on 7th March.

We've made an application for extra tickets for the ceremony itself but have been told not to expect any more than the nominee & guest already afforded to us.

We've been in touch with Jonathan Loughran in the IFB and he is looking at organising something over in Hollywood on the night of 7th March. This would be for friends, family and crew of the different Irish projects that are nominated this year.Will keep you all posted on this.

If you are planning on heading over for the few days, we're told that alot of the Irish group would be staying at the Grafton ( In regards to dates etc, its up to yourself to decide how long you want to stay over, but we suggest being in town from 4th (the Oscar Wilde event is on that evening until 8th or so.

Please feel free to pass this mail onto any other crew members........

All the best,

The Saloon

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Monday, February 08, 2010

brendan goes to hollywood

fabian erlinghauser just sent me this ... i'm in chicago on a long stopover on my way home.

nice one fabs:)

video interviews from Santa Barbara Film Festival

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Annie photos

Here are a few AMAZING photos by Jamie Bolio, our "angel" as we dubbed her and Pam for doing so much to promote Kells out here.
Just look at the animation legends I got to chat to. Amazing.

The fabulous "Queen of Toontown" June Foray

One of the animators that caused me to buy a jog shuttle VHS back in college to watch the fantastic morphing and smearing animation of the genie and who was responsible for the classiest sequence in The Princess and the Frog. Eric Goldberg picked up his fourth Annie last night with a triumphant salute to hand drawn animation.

The lovely Jamie Bolio and two boyos.

The amazing Bruno Coulais composer for Kells, winner of Annie for his score for Coraline and the mighty Andreas Deja

The legendary Henry Selick.

The bowld boys from the owld sod. Eimhin (Rooster) , Richie (some film called 'Avatar" or something) , and Padraig(Rooster)

Dean DeBlois - co director of one of my very favourite films Lilo and Stitch and storyboard man of the Mulan sequence where she sneaks away in her fathers armour, I rewatched that sequence endlessly in college.

The real deal indy feature animated filmmaker Bill Plympton, this dude draws every frame himself!


A great night last night, Bruno Coulais took the Annie for best score for Coraline,and it was fun to catch up,between Kells and Coraline he has two movies he scored nominated for the Oscars .
He introduced me to Henry Selick who said he really enjoyed Kells , so that was very cool to hear.
Met loads of animation superstars and it was lovely to see some old friends too.

Yesterday morning we screened Kells with Jim Capobianco's lovely Leonardo short.
We did a q+a afterwards together which was really fun , the two films really compliment each other
we think.

Tommorow morning I head back home for a few days, then back next week for the nominees luncheon and then home until the Emerald ball in New York February 27. whew. airmiles.

On another note I stumbled on this story via Laura Veirs twitter feed -
thought it would be good to spread the word here.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

One more thing...

Just thought it timely to say to anyone here in California who wants to see KELLS tommorow , ill be at the SANTA BARBARA screening at 4.30 and on Saturday morning.

See you there....


Hello there from la again.
what a mad week.

After the Oscar nod (still waiting to wake up from that dream!)
I really don't want people to forget that the Annies is such a massive acheivment for the whole crew and production team and co-production partners too! I'm only sorry that our short run here was so late that we could'nt enter any of the talented team in the individual achievment categories. It was amazing to even squeeze in to be considered for the main category at the very last minute (thanks Antraan, Jamie, Tina , Pam and all at ASIFA who made that happen!!!!). And being nominated for an Annie was as much a surprise as the Oscar nod on Thursday - or was that Wednesday?
But as much as I'm looking forward to seeing all the american animation folks here it will be lovely to see my fellow sdgi/dga Finders Series winners from Barley Films ! Padraig and Eimhin who created the very cool Rooster, Crocodile and the Night Sky will be here on Saturday.
That class act was the short that played before our very first workprint screening here back in Sept 2008 at the Dga building. Its cool to be back with the lads for the ANNIES no less!

Yet another Irish animation success story this week...!

oH and i was chuckling away to Badly Drawn Roy from Jam media on the plane on the way over! its playing on aerlingus' inflight movie service! I'd seen it a couple of times before but somehow I identified with poor scribbly Roy heading out to Hollywood to be cleaned up even more this time :)

Anyway, I want to say thanks to everyone who emailed me , and I'm sorry I have'nt gotten back to everyone yet what with work and travelling ...but I'll try and get to all those lovely mails asap!

Right, its that bizarre feeling where its nearly 5 at home and time for sleep even though i just arrived here in LA.

Actually time for a veggie burger i think thing about LA - loads of great veggie grub! mmmm!

I'm totally jetlagged and rambling.

oiche mhaith agaibh.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Buy the Dvds

Ok, so everyone is asking about the movie now...and I gotta say why not buy a copy from our website and check it out?
I'll even do a sketch for ya!

C'mon people!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Hooray for Hollywood

Congrats to ALL the crew and everyone involved - Oscar nominated! wow!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Irish Times piece this morning

Irish animators drawing international attention

ANALYSIS: Aside from plaudits, Irish animation also earns its keep with revenues of over €40m, writes PAMELA DUNCAN

IRISH ANIMATORS are continuing to draw international attention with two Irish animated films on the shortlist for Oscar nomination, and two more shown at Sundance Film Festival.

The Secret of Kells has made the last 16 in the animated feature film section at the Oscars, while Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty has been shortlisted for nomination in the animated short film category. The final five nominations in each category are to be announced tomorrow. Old Fangs, produced by Kilkenny company Cartoon Saloon, and Please Say Something , directed by David O’Reilly, also from Kilkenny, were both shown at Sundance.

But aside from earning plaudits, the Irish animation sector is also earning its keep. Dubbed the “star performer” of the film and TV industry in this year’s report of the Audiovisual Federation, the sector’s total output reached €38.9 million in 2008, with €43 million estimated for 2009. Animation is the only independent audiovisual sector which predicts growth this year. It is now the largest provider of full-time employment in the Irish independent film and television sector, with 337 jobs in 2008.

Kevin Moriarty, chairman of the Audiovisual Federation steering committee, says that the animation industry is a perfect example of the smart economy.

There are innate advantages to animation. Firstly, there is a wide audience given that animation is easily dubbed into other languages. Good for employees is that it takes time: 30 seconds of animation can take a week. “The gestation period for productions can be one, two or three years – so . . . people have regular employment,” Moriarty says.

Cathal Gaffney, co-founder of Dublin-based Brown Bag Films, and a nominee for this year’s Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year, says that the success of the Irish animation sector is bigger than the sum of its parts.

“A lot of the studios have matured and have a strong presence in the international marketplace now,” he says.

Brown Bag Films currently has 55 full-time staff, providing another 15 jobs on a freelance basis. Gaffney says that, as indigenous studios invest money back into Irish animation, they are building the industry and securing long-term work. Gaffney points to Nicky Phelan, who joined Brown Bag Films after college and worked his way up to direct the Ifta-winning short Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty .

“The people working in animation . . . they’re building a career, and you can see them moving around studios and staying in studios for a number of years. It is very heartening because it makes the animation sector very strong internationally,” says Gaffney.

However, difficulties remain. Gaffney says that Irish studios succeed in spite of the absence of a strong domestic market. “We really have no option but to become an export-focused sector,” he says, adding that 90 per cent of Brown Bag’s business is export-based.

Irish studios have built up good relationships in different territories to ensure a flow of work into the country.

Through a combination of collaborations, work-for-hire productions and creating, producing and exploiting intellectual property, Ireland has made a name for itself as “a safe pair of hands”.

Paul Young is a partner with Cartoon Saloon and a producer on The Secret of Kells . In its day-to-day operations Cartoon Saloon employs 17 people, 10 full-time. While producing The Secret of Kells and Skunk Fu! it employed 75 people full-time.

Young says that “design, artistic and storytelling talent” here in Ireland coupled with the attractiveness of the section 481 tax incentive are driving the sector forward.

However, he says that it’s necessary for Irish studios to collaborate with foreign studios. The Secret of Kells , for example, was co-produced in Belgium and France, but the Kilkenny-based studio took the lead – the creative blueprints, key animation and backgrounds, storyboard, voice recording and design were all carried out in Ireland.

Young says that the goal for Irish studios is not simply to provide service work for foreign studios but to produce and own a catalogue of content which will continue to generate sales and revenue.

“That’s what the whole smart economy thing is all about,” Young says.

Studios are also exploiting technological avenues. JAM Media is in the process of further developing its “head-hunter” technology, which allows users to use their image to become the star of their own show. Chief executive John Rice says Irish studios are “punching above their weight” on the international market, aided by the tax incentive and Irish Film Board support.

Emma Scott, production executive with the Irish Film Board, which provides around €1 million for animation projects each year, says that, while Irish studios continue to demonstrate a high level of creativity, they are also astute business people who recognise the commercial opportunities which exist around holding the rights to productions. Licensing, merchandise and personalised technology are just some of the wider opportunities.

“It’s a commodity. They’re creating a product and they see it as that – it’s a creative product which they can go out and exploit on a number of different platforms,” Scott says.

Star studios: top producers

Brown Bag Films

Best known for Oscar-nominated short Give Up Yer Aul Sins . Successful TV series include Olivia for US Nickelodeon and Noddy in Toyland .

Cartoon Saloon

Producer of the Year at Cartoon Forum in 2008 and Producer of the Year at Cartoon Movie in 2009. Tomm Moore, director of The Secret of Kells , was named Director of the Year at Cartoon Movie in 2009. The Secret is one of two 2D films on the shortlist for nomination in the animated feature film category for the Oscars. The studio’s Skunk Fu! series has been broadcast in over 120 countries.

JAM Media

Achieved critical acclaim with the BBC series Roy , which centres on the trials and tribulations of a cartoon boy who lives in the real world. The series was born out of a short called Badly Drawn Roy .

Barley Films

Currently working on a feature length animation, Little Caribou .


Series Garth and Bev is broadcast on CBeebies. The company has just signed a deal with Yowza to bring Mort Walker’s comic strip Hi Lois to the small screen.

Monster Animation

Series Ballybraddan was launched on RTÉ in 2009. Its Fluffy Gardens series was a global success.

Magma Films

Niko and the Stars was distributed worldwide.