As an associate producer for 41 Action News, Dylan Dietz creates simple animations to illustrate ideas such as “rising food prices.”
“I’m more of an animation appreciator than an actual animator,” Dietz admits. “I love how it’s designed and constructed.”
Now Dietz is taking that appreciation to the next level by organizing the inaugural Animation Celebration. The event begins at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Boulevard Digital Drive-In Theatre, 1051 Merriam Lane, Kansas City, Kan. Art vendors and a mentor center kick off the festivities, prior to an 8:30 p.m. screening that features creations by area student, amateur and professional animators displayed on the region’s largest drive-in screen.
“I think the Kansas City animation scene is the best-kept secret in the Midwest,” Dietz says. “People are so shocked there’s a latent animation community here. Many people in the art community know that Bazillion Pictures and Trinity Animation are here. But they don’t talk a lot about the level of work they’re doing.”
A 1-hour, 45-minute program will showcase standouts such as “Follow the Sun,” a disturbing homage to intermission reels, and “The History of America,” a “psychedelic Western space opera” by design collective MK12; “Another Dress Another Button,” Lyn Elliot’s short exploring what happens to the spare buttons that come with clothes; and “Luchadorable” by Ryan Tonner.
“The title is a portmanteau of ‘Luchador’ — which is the Spanish word for wrestler — and ‘adorable,’ ” Tonner says. “It focuses on a petite Mexican wrestler that has been cruelly picked to wrestle the gigantic heavyweight champion Huevos Grande. Even though he’s clearly outmatched, the hero still remains positive and takes things as they are presented to him.”
“Luchadorable’ was Tonner’s senior project at the Kansas City Art Institute. He describes his style as “refined doodles.”
“I try to keep my work loose, clean and funny. Ultimately, I try to make things people enjoy looking at, and hopefully make them laugh,” he says.
The Animation Celebration is the brainchild of the Midwest Association of Professional Animators (MAPA). The organization — which is run by Dietz, Josh Lucht and Arie Monroe — characterizes itself as a collection of “working and retired graphic designers, motion graphic gurus, 2-D/3-D animators and Chyron operators.”
Dietz says the group often tours local animation studios or holds seminars featuring speakers, but this is its first festival.
“MAPA really speaks to the legacy of Kansas City. Walt Disney started here. We want to preserve our heritage in animation,” he says.
“CinemaKC” and “KC Live” personality Michelle Davidson will host the event.Saturday
The Kansas City Animation Celebration begins at 5 p.m. at the Boulevard Digital Drive-in, 1051 Merriam Lane in Kansas City, Kan. Screening starts at 8:30. Admission is $20 per car. SeeCinemaKC.com.