This past week I took the family on a road trip to Canada for the Ottawa International Animation Festival, where we had two screenings of NG animation circa 2000-2005, organized by Sean Buckelew (@wh347 here on NG).
What an inspiring trip! Both screenings had a great turnout and we hit full capacity for the theater on Friday. We weren't sure what to expect in Ottawa; it's the largest animation festival in North America and there was the chance the audience could be a lot of industry folks without much NG background, looking to learn what it's all about and potentially hating it. It ended up being the complete opposite; the audience was full of big fans who knew most of the material. The most eye-opening thing about the festival was how many people came up and told me that Newgrounds is what got them into animation. A teacher from an animation school in Boston told me there has been a tipping point recently where instead of students citing things such as Disney and Pixar as their reason for getting into animation, they are saying it was because of Newgrounds. It was CRAZY how much I heard this sort of thing during the festival.
It was a turning point for me because I've always had this image that the web scene and the festival scene are two different beasts and I've assumed the festival crowd turns their nose up to Newgrounds - and maybe that WAS the case 10-15 years ago - but it definitely didn't feel like the case now. I felt so much love and respect for NG the entire time I was there, it made me feel like an idiot for all my insecurities. Of course, my negative side still said, "Good job Tom, you did something great for a while there but will people 10 years from now still be crediting NG with getting them into animation?" To answer myself, all I can say is... "You gotta try and make that the case."
The other weekend, @JohnnyUtah, @Oney and I went to PhilaMOCA (Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contempory Art) to see Greg Sestero (Mark from the Room), who's a big fan of The Room game we made. I got to talk to one of the guys from PhilaMOCA and they are NG fans too, so now I'm looking at doing an NG night downtown, maybe on a monthly basis if there is enough turnout. Sean will also be looking to bring the Newgrounds Revolution screening to more festivals around the world. These events will help spread the word about NG and bring greater legitimacy to the work that is shared here. We can create stories beyond getting front page.
I also need to build up the courage (and collaborators) for music, gaming and art events. These are all things we've wanted to do for more than a decade but they are extremely counter to my personality, which has traditionally been more agoraphobic but I'm working to be a different person. My role with The Behemoth has helped this a lot because it created a duty to attend events such as Comic-Con and PAX and Sean has been an inspiration with the festival screenings. This past year I've tried to step out of my comfort zone even more, with events such as the Q&A at the NG Screening at Animation Breakdown in LA (organized by @wh347 and @elementalbadger), the MAGFest panel in DC, a panel with @Glaiel-Gamer at PAX Boston, a Buzzfeed talk in NYC (thanks to @Nogfish), the biggest Pico Day ever, a J-1 Con Philly panel with @Stamper and @RicePirate, a Too Many Games panel with @deathink, @RicePirate and @Oney just outside Philly, PAX Prime in Seattle, the Ottawa Animation Festival and the upcoming Emerald Coast Con in Florida next month.
Long-term if there is enough critical mass at various events, I would like to attempt a "Newgrounds dot Con" for all things NG at a single convention. It's one of those ideas that has come up over the years but always seems a bit too out there. I'm officially putting it in writing because that's step one.
Thank you everyone who attended the NG screenings and advanced thanks to anyone who turns out for NG events in the future! And of course a continued thanks to everyone who shows up here on the NG website, which I'm really grateful for considering how many distractions there are nowadays.
Madness Day is tomorrow, although some entries are coming in early. Be sure to come witness the Madness! @Krinkels and @The-Swain have been working on Madness: Project Nexus 2 with Unity3D and it will be the king of all Madness games.
Picture from the NG screening: