When most people think of English-language animation, they probably think of Disney. They’ve been responsible for countless innovations in the near-century since their founding, including the first synchronised sound film in the form of Steamboat Willie (1927), as well as the first fully computer animated film in Toy Story (1995).
When considering Asian animation, many would probably think of Studio Ghibli. Like Disney in the Western World, Studio Ghibli, fronted by master animator-director Hayao Miyazaki, has been responsible for some of the most critically and commercially successful animated films ever created. Three Studio Ghibli produced films appear in the top 10 highest grossing Japanese films of all time, with Spirited Away (2001) heading the list earning over ¥30 billion gross.
There is, however, a new trend emerging in the world of animated cinema. Where big-budget animated features in both the East and West were previously reserved for the industry giants like Disney and Studio Ghibli, a new kind of beast is beginning to emerge: a best by the name of crowdfunding.
Two of the best and most highly anticipated films on show at 2017’s London Film Festival, Loving Vincent and Big Fish & Begonia both secured funding at least in part through online crowdfunding campaigns.
Loving Vincent holds the title of being the world’s first fully painted animated film. It follows the events immediately following Vincent van Gogh’s suicide, making use of over 60,000 hand painted frames created in collaboration by over 120 artists.
It was originally intended to be produced as a short film. However, as the scope of the film began to widen into a full-length feature, funding fell short. To combat this, co-directors and writers Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman turned to Kickstarter in 2014 to raise funds. This push garnered over £50,000, allowing production of the film to continue, and eventually for the finished product to be premiered as part of this year’s London Film Festival.
The story behind Big Fish & Begonia is an almost direct parallel to that behind Loving Vincent. Like Loving Vincent, Big Fish began its life as a short film, published online 13 years ago in 2004. The short was well-received and co-directors Liang Xuan and Zhang Chun began work on a feature-length script almost immediately.
After some initial interest and disparate funding, the money dried up. In 2013, Liang was forced to turn to Chinese social media platform Sian Weibo in an …