Features and Columns · Movies

Fund This Film: Bill Plympton’s Animated Feature ‘Cheatin’’

By  · Published on January 5th, 2013

Crowdfunding campaigns are everywhere these days, and with this week’s report on the huge success of films financed through Kickstarter (more than 8,500 projects have made their goal since 2009), the number is sure to keep getting bigger. So, how do you choose which projects to help out, if that’s something you’re interested in? The easiest way to go is to find familiar talent, such as a veteran indie filmmaker looking to both avoid the established studios and financiers and focus on pleasing his fans rather than a suit with a checkbook.

Animator Bill Plympton is a perfect model for how crowdfunding works best with an artist’s fanbase, by calling on and also giving back to the loyal followers as well as potential newbies. His latest feature, Cheatin’, is currently in the works and needs financial support, which he’s seeking through Kickstarter. It’s likely mostly people who know and love past “Plymptoons” like the feature-length Idiots and Angels (which we recently recommended you stream), the Oscar-nominated shorts The Face and Guard Dog and his brilliant first feature, The Tune, who will be lending a hand.

Cheatin’ looks as wonderful and weird as Plympton’s past efforts. It’s said to be inspired by the work of author James M. Cain (Double Indemnity; The Postman Always Rings Twice), features a male lead who is somewhat modeled after Tom Hardy (as seen in one of Plympton’s many production videos for the film) and is about a couple who everyone is jealously trying to break up. On its Kickstarter page, the filmmaker describes it as “an animated adult tale of love, jealousy, revenge, and murder – full of nudity and violence, but also with my surreal sense of humor.”

Part of the reason for the crowdfunding is that Plympton is attempting something different with this feature as far as the coloring of his drawings go. It’s the sort of idea that necessitates outside help but also may have initially come about because of the capability of crowdfunding. Through Kickstarter, an artist like Plympton can be inspired and encouraged to be more creative and/or try new techniques. As long as it’s not anything that that might distance those fans, I suppose.

Check out the campaign video for Cheatin’ below and if you’re still intrigued or excited, there are 14 production videos already to watch (and additional videos if you donate) and photos posted regularly to Tumblr. It’s probable that this will reach its goal. There’s a lot of time left, and they’ve already raised more than $50,000 and they’re looking at $75,000. Plympton says it’ll be great if they go above that as they’ll definitely finish in time for Oscar consideration in September and also get incentives out to supporters ahead of time – those include signed DVDs and lithographs and original, one-of-a-kind drawings either from the film or not (such as a personal caricature of yourself by Plympton).

Even if you can’t or won’t help fund the film, it’s still worth your while to become acquainted with this project.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.