EXCLUSIVE: Veteran Disney/Pixar contributor John Kahrs directed the brilliant and touching black-and-white Paperman which won this year’s Academy Award for Best Animated Short and played in theaters before Wreck–It Ralph. Major agencies were in hot pursuit because toons are such major profit centers right now and Kahrs had worked on Tangled, The Incredibles, Monsters Inc, Ratatouille, Toy Story 2, and A Bug’s Life. He signed with WME today:
Christy Grosz is Editor of AwardsLine
Although short films have been a part of the Oscars since 1931, the live-action, animation, and documentary shorts categories are getting more time in the spotlight than ever before. Voting on the winners in each category will be open to the entire Academy membership for the first time this year, and the Academy is sending DVDs of the nominees to every member — two changes that Jon Bloom, who chairs the short films and feature animation branch, says were important to the executive committee.
“It is, for us, a bit of an experiment”, Bloom explains. “Everything within the Academy about the awards is a work in progress from the standpoint that we’re all always trying to make things better”.
Nevertheless, it’s all about visibility when making voters and viewers take notice of these small yet powerful categories. And Bloom points to the theatrical and video-on-demand program, Oscar Nominated Short Films 2013, that DirecTV’s ShortsHD short-movie channel began offering to consumers eight years ago as helping elevate the profile of short films.
“The huge breakthrough was to think of the shorts as a collection, meaning being feature length and being available in a way that fits”, Bloom says of the program, which packages each category of film into a theatrical, iTunes, and VOD presentation. “By having the Academy’s seal of approval on a handful of shorts that are being touted as special, then having audiences respond to those, has been very gratifying for us”.
It has also been a relatively successful venture for ShortsHD, its distribution partner Magnolia Films, and the nominated filmmakers. Theatrical receipts have increased 800% since the program’s 2005 debut, and 2012’s package ranked in the top 50 grossing independent releases, earning $1.7 million nationwide.
“Last year, we made a 5% return on the release. We consider it marketing, rather than something we’re trying to make money on”, ShortsHD CEO Carter Pilcher says, adding that each nominated filmmaker receives a $5,000 flat-fee advance. “After we recover the costs of the release — we work very hard not to make them very expensive — we then do a 50/50 split on all the receipts”.
Beverly Hills, CA — The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that 10 animated short films will advance in the voting process for the 83rd Academy Awards. Thirty-three pictures had originally qualified in the category. The 10 films are listed below in alphabetical order by title, with their production company:
“The Cow Who Wanted to Be a Hamburger” Bill Plympton, director (Bill Plympton Studio)
“Coyote Falls,” Matthew O’Callaghan, director
Sam Register, executive producer (Warner Bros. Animation Inc.)
“Day & Night,” Teddy Newton, director (Pixar Animation Studios)
“The Gruffalo,” Jakob Schuh and Max Lang, directors (Magic Light Pictures)