IndieKidsFilms


PBS Executive, Linda Simensky’s Favorite Indie Animated Shorts

This past Friday, I had the pleasure of speaking with one of the key women responsible for shaping my childhood, and in effect instigating my long and unwavering love affair with television. Of course, I didn’t tell her all this over the phone. Instead, I opted to give her a meek thank you for her years of work in children’s animation, in efforts to preserve some semblance of professionalism–I don’t think it worked.

Linda Simensky has held distinguished executive positions in the children’s television industry for more than 20 years. First, she worked her way up at Nickelodeon during the 80’s and 90’s, starting in the programming department and eventually moving into animation. During her nine-year tenure at Nick, she was responsible for overseeing the production of shows like ‘Doug‘ (the good, pre-Disney version) ‘Rocko’s Modern Life’ and ‘Hey Arnold.’

Around the time of ‘Hey Arnold,’ Simensky left Nick after being appointed Director of Programming of Cartoon Network. At Cartoon Network she worked on other memorable shows including ‘Dexter’s Laboratory‘ and ‘Powerpuff Girls.‘ Talk about 90’s cartoon royalty.

Since 2003, Simensky has been overseeing popular preschool and elementary, curriculum-based programming like ‘Sid the Science Kid‘ and ‘WordGirl’ as the Senior Director of Children’s Programming at PBS.

During our chat, Simenski highlighted three independent animated short films from the National Film Board of Canada that had a signficant impact on her view of animation:

1. The Cat Came Back (1988)

This hilarious Oscar®-nominated animation is based on the century-old folk song of the same name. Old Mr. Johnson makes increasingly manic attempts to rid himself of a little yellow cat that just won’t stay away… Also won the 1989 Genie Award for best animated short film.

Continue reading

Advertisements


Veteran Artist and Visual Arts Professor, Martin Abrahams Talks History of Amination

Martin Abrahams, a self-proclaimed pioneer of the music video medium and veteran animator, is an enthusiastic advocate of his students at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He has been teaching since 1971, but is also an alumni of SVA, having studied painting and fine arts. Soon, as a way to make a living, Abrahams veered off into the world of animation, a very new field at the time.

When I first visited his classroom on Saturday, which was full of advanced graphic design and animation students, I could barely tell him apart from his pupils. Wearing dark skinny jeans, a plaid green button up and Chuck Taylors, at first glance it’s hard to believe he’s had over 30 years of animation experience.

Here are some of the highlights from our hour-long chat together:

What was working on one of ABC’s first educational children’s programs, ‘Make A Wish,’ (1971-76) like?

That particular show was a very unique show. It incorporated these kinds of little quick animation vignettes. It would mix animation with quick cut stock footage.  It was great. It allowed myself as an animator to be able to work independently, and offer what only I could do in my style, my ideas, storyboarding concept based on a script—and because it was cut so fast, you know, it was young kid quality.

Continue reading