Like a palate cleanser after the feature animation diss* I wrote about in the last post, ASIFA-Hollywood comes along with the nominees for this year’s Annie Awards. Who needs the NYFCC! We have ASIFA, and we’ll have our own damned party!
The Annies are always a fun ceremony, and a good time to catch up with friends. It’s also a rare chance to honor some of the people behind the scenes in a business where we’re pretty anonymous to most of the folks who enjoy what we do. I’ll admit I’m a little ambivalent about these kinds of individual honors. On one hand, if ASIFA-Hollywood didn’t give such awards, no one else would. And lord knows that there are many people in the animation business who deserve some individual props. The cartoon above is by past Annie winner, and current nominee, Patrick Mate, a humble, quiet guy bursting with talent, yet someone most people have never heard of.
But I also know that some studios don’t even bother to submit their productions, and of those that do, which artists the producers submit for nomination depends a lot on studio politics. There also tends to be a lot of apples and oranges getting compared: productions with vastly different target audiences, different budgets and schedules, and so on, all compete head to head. There’s also been some controversy over who votes for the awards, though I think that was wildly overblown.
I find other animators vary widely in how seriously they take the Annies. Sometimes it’s directly proportional to whether or not their shows are in the running, and whether or not they know some of the nominees. Yeah, it’s a beauty contest. But it’s our beauty contest, and I’m glad we have it. I’ve known a fair number of nominees and award winners, and I know it’s been a terrific (and deserved) validation to get honored this way by peers and serious fans (i.e., the membership of ASIFA-Hollywood).
I’ll also give ASIFA-Hollywood props for being willing to keep playing with their formula. Year-to-year they try to make the awards more fair and valid, and the awards have definitely improved in how meaningful they are over the last decade. And the lifetime achievement award (the Windsor McCay Award) is a tremendous honor that really amounts to an Animation Hall of Fame.
Full disclosure: Four productions I animated on are nominated. Blue Sky’s Rio is up for Best Feature and a bunch of other awards. It’s a beautifully animated film, and I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t win a few golden zoetrops. Rhythm & Hues’ Hop got a nomination in an individual awards category. From ReelFX, Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas is in the Best Animated Special Production category.
And, in the Best Animated Television Commercial, a Psyop commercial called Stuff, for Norton Symantec:
Regardless of whether anything I worked on wins or not, it’s an honor to be involved with productions that get nominated. And I’m especially happy for some friends and collegues who got individual mentions. Hats off to everyone for some well-deserved recognition. You earned it!
*Sarcasm alert! As I wrote before, who cares.