A quick hypothetical for you: if real people host film festivals with “real films,” then wouldn’t it make sense that an animated film festival should be hosted by animated people? Crazy, I know, but filmmaker Morgan Miller seems to think it’s worth a shot.
After completing an animated short starring the characters Jeff Twiller and Randy—two coarse guys who enjoy the simple things in life and “like to hang out at the dump” in a place “kind of like Queens”—Miller decided that they’d be perfect hosts for their own film festival.
The Twiller character, who Miller voices, was always a “bit of a film buff,” according to its creator. “So it seemed natural that he would do something like this.” Thus was born Twillerama, an hour-long festival (going down at Videology on Saturday, September 3) that will present the work of 16 animators as part of a short, mock festival.
In between the screenings, Morgan’s characters Twiller (the more supportive of the two) and Randy (voiced by Josh Kleefeld) who seems to be there mostly for the beer, share their thoughts in a sort of play-by-play for the audience. Usually, however, the characters’ thoughts don’t seem to involve much thinking.
It reminds me of early Beavis and Butt-Head cartoons, back when they used to make dumb comments about music videos and go, “Ghuhhhh.” You know, the kind that make you chuckle because “Oh man this is soooo stupid, but also kinda funny.” There’s also a little bit of Trailer Park Boys there.
According to Miller, the larger goal of Twillerama is to give local animators a chance to show off their stuff in a setting that doesn’t feel arbitrary or stifled by the traditional film festival atmosphere.
“Some place like ASIFA [The International Animated Film Society], which has a film festival in March or April, is much more serious in tone,” Miller said. “I guess this is kind of like a satire of those kind of events because people always argue about ‘How come this film didn’t get in?’ and ‘How come this got an award?'”
All of the work show at Twillerama is just whatever Brooklyn-based animators wanted to show and the only “awards” are a few absurd and meaningless ones given out by the cartoon hosts. It’s a friendly, no pressure way to screen material and build a community of similarly-minded animators.
In organizing the fest, Miller wanted to correct another problem that he saw with many festivals. “There’s no cohesive theme,” he explained. So he’s given the event an thematic through-line to quell any cognitive fatigue that can occur after a day full of ADD screenings with no rhyme or reason.
Appropriately, given the dumpy, dump-frequenting characters hosting the festival, the uniting motif is essentially the “phallic themed” nature of many of the shorts.
At no time is that more apparent than the second film in the lineup, a short called The Club, by George Griffin. Hilariously, it features anthropomorphized dongs milling about a high-class social club, smoking pipes and reading. Other shorts included in the festival are equally bizarre, like one in which a woman clacks away on a typewriter with her nightmarishly dexterous breasts (Leah Shore’s Boobatary). There’s another in which abstract shapes stretch and morph into various grotesque monsters (Fluidtoons by Brett W. Thompson).
The show is packed with weird and often funny shorts like these ones, which are only enhanced by Miller and Kleefeld’s interstitial ramblings. And so, while Twillerama is first and foremost animation presented for the enjoyment of animations, real people shouldn’t have much trouble getting into it either.