Home > Animation, British Animation, Canadian Animatioon, Video > Should Animated Films Be Widely Available Online

Should Animated Films Be Widely Available Online


Yes, that’s a good question. Is that the question? Will an answer to it change the Earth’s shape from spherical to, let’s say, the one of banana? Well, not necessarily. And sometimes I even think this question has risen so many times that asking it again feels like a broken record…

However, two weeks ago I attended an amazing meeting / lecture / workshop (all included, I would say) with Caroline Leaf. It was within Barbican animation season. I went there with a friend who I hadn’t seen for quite a while, so we both thought it would be great to meet up on, let me put it this way, the occasion of Caroline Leaf. The funny bit was in the very beginning when we tried to enter the gallery 7 minutes before the event and were told it would be open exactly at 7:30pm. So we came back exactly at 7:30pm just to realise the gallery was already full with no free seats whatsoever (my poor back, I’m tellin’ ya!…).

Anyway, the whole event with Leaf-animator-artist was an amazing thing to experience. She went through her biography, explaining tricks of her animation techniques, presenting a number of her films but also she, literally, showed the way she worked with sand in order to animate it. It was all fascinating but for me the best part was to be able to watch this very fine lady and the way she considered herself as an artist. There was no buffoonery nor arrogance. Instead, we could see a very modest and wise lady who patiently answered all questions that she must have heard thousands of times. Somehow I like meeting such women – it builds respect and maybe even gives a good example to follow in forming the right shape of one’s femininity if you know what I mean…

Oh yes, there was one question in particular that has become the title for this post. Interestingly enough… when you ask them, all artists usually say they want to protect their copyrights, their right to gain profit from their work which they, obviously, worked on really hard. Nevertheless, the films are available on Youtube or some other Vimeo channels. Sometimes the artists claim profit from clicks on ads appearing along with the films. Very often, however, complete strangers upload the films and, without any permission, make them available to the world. And here comes what Caroline Leaf said – she doesn’t mind her films to be available as it means a wide audience is able to find them and get to know her, the artist. And she doesn’t get any royalties from showing the films anyway as they were produced while at NFB of Canada, so it’s not a matter of profit for her.

Well, perhaps this is just an individual case and an individual point of view that should not be considered as a general rule. Still, I think it’s good to know the variety of opinions on this matter. If you want to think of other views (or have your own! please share!), I recommend that you follow Animated Shorts: Sell or Give Away for Free? link where Amid and his readers discuss the subject through the prism of Bob Godfrey’s films. At some point in time the films were available on a VOD site but somehow I cannot find the website now nor any info on what might have happened to it. Perhaps the rights owners have tried a number of ways to make the films widely available but none of them actually worked they way they had expected?… So instead I am giving you a link to… wikipedia 😉

And below, is wonderful The Street by Caroline Leaf from 1976. Enjoy!

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  1. August 10, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    Hi Jo, thanks for posting your comment! You’re welcome to come back any time 🙂

    Personally I agree they should be available and you’ve made a few important points here: rising the artist’s profile and, from the target audience point of view, limited possibilities of travelling around the world to see everything. As for lack of immediate profits, I don’t think the films are essentially made for profit (unless they are commercial work which, again, is a slightly different topic).

    Getting back, however, to Bob Godfrey films’ story, I have a feeling that everybody believes the films are great but relatively small number of people (worldwide) have had a chance to see them. Of course, as declared widely by the rights holders, there are reasons behind that (which, of course, are to be respected) but it’s like believing the artist is a genius based only on a word of mouth. (Btw and to make things clear, I do not question the genius as I’m one of the lucky ones who have seen some of the works! Yeay! 🙂 )

  2. jo
    August 10, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    My short answer is yes! Why wouldn’t you want to share something you’ve worked so hard to make with as many people as possible?

    Sadly, I believe a lot of short filmmakers and animators hold back from posting their films online as many festivals demand premiere screenings. Whereas this makes sense with feature films that have established distribution channels, it seems unfair to ask the same of people working in a medium that does not have the same outlets to do so.

    Short films lend themselves well to being screened online and there is huge international audience for this work. Whilst not gaining any immediate financial return can be tough, the long term benefits of raising your profile and establishing yourself as a talented individual in your field surely leads to more exciting opportunities to continue doing the work you love.

    Whilst I’d love to be able to devote my time flying around the world to be the first person to watch everything, in reality this isn’t practical. However if I know a film that has caught my attention online is screening in town I will make the effort to go and see it on the big screen.
    You simply can’t beat the quality and atmosphere of enjoying the work you love in a cinema alongside a like-minded festival audience.

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