news and mews(ings)

“Happy & Gay” Wins Jury and Audience Awards

Posted on | October 31, 2014 | Comments Off


“Happy & Gay” has won two awards at the 2014 Atlanta Out On Film Festival! It received both the Jury Award and Audience Award for the Animation category. These are the two awards available at the festival. Thanks, Atlanta!

HappyGayAudienceAward   HappyGayJuryAward

“Happy & Gay” Finished, and Festival Life Begins

Posted on | September 13, 2014 | Comments Off

I finished my newest animation film project, “Happy & Gay” in June 2014! I think there was a sonic boom somewhere in the universe as the reality of it became solid in this world space.

I’ve begun the festival application process, and because of the 2-3 month delay in hearing back, I’m just starting to hear back now.

Here are the screenings so far

Ottawa International Animation Festival, “International Showcase”, in Ottawa, Canada

Siggraph Asia 2014  Animation Theatre Program, in Shenzen, China

Anim’Est, Audience Award Program, in Bucharest, Romania

Derechos Humanos Y Cine Venenzuela (really weird that I can’t find out what city or town it’s in!)

But! my film is on their short-list to be considered for the Best Human Rights Film of the festival. If anything, that’s an honor in itself, to be even considered.

Atlanta “Out On Film”,  in Atlanta Georgia USA

Atlantic Film Festival, in Halifax, Nova Scotia

fb logo twitter logo




I’ll be updating my film site, FB page and Twitter account more often with announcements about the film, so please consider following one (or all) of those if you’re interested!

Happy & Gay website

Happy and Gay Facebook

Happy & Gay Twitter: @HappyGayToon


“Happy & Gay” queer cartoon at the ICA Boston

Posted on | May 5, 2014 | Comments Off








The ICA Boston is screening the New England Animation Festival, curated by ICA film programmer Branka Bogdanov, and my film, “Happy & Gay” is included. This marks the first public screening of the full film. While it still needs the finish work, such as sound mastering and some color correction for levels, I can say with great happiness that the animation, compositing and editing are complete. Wow!!!

The first screening night, Saturday, May 10-th, is a filmmakers evening, with a moderated Q & A led by RISD animation faculty, Amy Kravitz.


Awesome Intern, Joanna Lin!

Posted on | November 11, 2013 | Comments Off

I’ve had the benefit of having wonderful interns work with me on my film project over the course of my film’s (Happy & Gay) production. This semester, I have RISD animation junior, Joanna Lin, assisting me with post-production processing. She’s facilitating the publishing and compositing, effects application and rendering out of all shots. We’re using After Effects, and I’ve long ago run all of my tests to secure the settings for those effects and processes. I used a grant from RISD to test an output to 35mm film to see how those effects would translate, and it looked great. The intention is to distribute in both digital AND film format, so the output variables are rather extensive. (35mm film print is to fit the conceptual intention of the film, which is to work as a revisionist history document. See here.)

Joanna was already known to me because of having had her in a course I offered to non-FAV (film-animation-video) “Digital Integration Techniques for Animation.” Joanna discovered that time-based work suited her really well, so she asked to join our ranks in FAV, which is to our benefit! As an intern, Joanna brings an excellent set of skills and attitude, and I’m relying completely on her to assist me with this process. It’s making a HUGE and POSITIVE difference in my production.

Joanna has a wonderfully unique way of exploring the world through animation, film and textiles. She’s used her passion for textiles and fiber arts as influence in her time-based work. She has a website here! Check out a few of her accomplishments here:

Joanna Lin, "Happy & Gay" Intern

Joanna Lin, “Happy & Gay” Intern

Clothing and Textile Wearables by Joanna Lin


Examining Life, Will Eisner

Posted on | November 10, 2013 | Comments Off

Illustrated comics artist, Will Eisner (1917-2005), has already been written about by a hundred other more informed individuals, so what I offer here is a tid-bit of thought, a personal reflection. What I’m thinking on is Eisner’s observations and respect of the scruffy and intense life around him, and the deep desire that he had to show us a facet of those lives. What I’m pondering specifically is how he interpreted those stories that arose for him in the dusky light of a NYC sunset. What arose from his pen and mind were lives simple and complicated, deep and fascinating, moving and momentous, sometimes small, tragic and euphoric, and sometimes simply deliriously funny. Eisner watched people, listened closely, laughed and cried with them, and offered a way to take their inconsequential lives into the realm of paper and ink.

In some respects you could say he was documenting, but my thought is to say that his artistry was more about crafting stories and entertainment. The people and the influences were real… he was a junkie for observation. But he found these people and interactions out in the streets, where and when they happened. He then went on his way, embellishing and re-interpreting in order to to convert a story that would have drama, pathos and meaning.

ARIA, “New York, The Big City” story and artwork by Will Eisner

Eisner’s overtly interpreting the “meaning” of a moment. He exaggerates and amplifies by pushing a body posture, a gesture, a little further. He takes the nugget of conversation, of arguments as well as of unspoken moments, and he moves it into a stylized performance and drama. Eisner’s stories read like the stylized films of a particular era, with a mise-en-scene neatly in place, with the characters pushing their boisterous performance just that little bit louder, just that little bit bigger. It’s similar in artifice to the old movies of the 40′s and 50′s, or perhaps like being on the stage in a play. Yes, Eisner’s role as a cartoonist was engaged with entertainment, and with comics, where the world IS enlarged and magnified. He has a wonderful vision for light and shadow, composition and movement, drama and comedy.

Something that any filmmaker will observe as well is that Eisner has “timing.” This is the rhythm and pace of how we move from one thought and realization to the next, of how shots are edited to achieve a tempo which is always supporting the meaning of the scene. Eisner’s composition with the page layout is not just about creating a sequential timeline but is also very much about the pace of how something unfolds. The weight and gravity of a composition readily influences the sensation as we drift and fall, slide and jump between each individual moment.

Opera, “New York, The Big City”, story and artwork by Will Eisner

I’ll make the comparison to Denys Wortman’s life drawing illustrations of “regular people,” in taking the small stories of real lives and realizing them as small gems. The looseness of bodies, the lively gestures, the beautiful draftsmanship, and to-the-point dialog are shared elements in both artists’ works. Where Eisner is different is his long and deep love of the world of comics with a capital “C.” His work in the super-hero realm made him a super-star with few rivals. His conception and development of the comic “The Spirit” was where he really made his mark. Wortman, on the other hand, was a fine artist documenting New York, showing us America as he saw it. His illustrations take on less of the theatrical, less stylized representation of what was happening in from of him.

Illustration by Denys Wortman

I’m sure that Wortman most certainly took editorial license, as every artist should. But his approach was coming from a different interest in the interpretation of what was in front of him. He was looking to document real lives, and as a result, was looking to retain something more authentically closer to the source, while also bringing an artist’s eye and interpretation to bear. While both artists explored the harder side of life, each took his own way in how he chose to share it, to recognize and present it.

Illustration by Denys Wortman

Story in the Public Square

Posted on | November 10, 2013 | Comments Off

I’ve been asked to participate on the Board of a new adventure in it’s second year, an initiative called “Story in the Public Square.” The singular mission is “Studying and celebrating public storytelling in American politics and culture.” The expectation of the first formal “full” year of the project are described in this way on the site:

“Story in the Public Square” is a year-round initiative to study and celebrate public storytelling. It features an annual conference, lectures, awards and student contests, as well as original scholarship about public storytelling and how those stories can affect the public debate.

This is a developing project through Salve Regina University, and has the additional support of the Pell Center, The Providence Journal, and the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities. It’s co-directed by visiting fellow G. Wayne Miller and Pell Center executive director Jim Ludes.

Sounds exciting as a premise, and so far we’re (the Board members) are encouraged to contribute ideas and action.

Tales of the City, Denys Wortman’s “New York”

Posted on | September 30, 2013 | Comments Off

"The words she used were simply awful but I excused her because she was a lady."

I was really excited when I learned about the illustrator Denys Wortman, which was through the illustrated collection “Denys Wortman’s New York,” published by Drawn & Quarterly.

Wortman worked as a catoonist from about 924-1654, and in that time he focused on reflecting the world of NYC back to itself. His loose and casual gestures capture that hapless and helpless, the everyday and the not so unusual, but always extraordinary nonetheless. The beautiful, exploratory gestural quality of Wortman’s pencil line is so deeply expressive, full of movement, depth and life. His choice of subjects are the everyday person, the “blue collar” worker and their attempts to get along day by day.

He isolates a visual moment and highlights it with the verbal complaints, the familiar hellos, and mutually shared thoughts as to why life is what it is and what should be done about it. Deny’s Wortman’s New York brings forth such an elegant slice of storied America at an intensely intimate level, and also a deeply universal and accessible level.

I swim in his observations and feel like that same fly on the wall he must have been. Because my own grandparents and parents lived in the Boston immigrant “ghettos” during the Depression era, I feel as if he is sharing with me what would have been my own family’s life. I believe that the two plump women in this illustration could have been my own relatives, telling my own family’s story.

This is storytelling at a beautiful micro-level with the movement of bodies and clothes captured in swirls of graphite line and tones, echoed in a singular sentence with a captured glance, shared between friends in a busy, lost time.

For happiness’ sake, check out Drawn & Quarterly Publications as well as The Center for Cartoon Studies.


Postcards and Biz Cards, Ahoy!

Posted on | September 13, 2013 | Comments Off


I just received the new postcards and business cards that are for the film’s publicity! They look good. I realized after the fact of course, that I forgot the little guy’s bow tie. That means that he’s 1/3 naked, considering he only has shorts and shoes otherwise… I hope there won’t be an obscenity charge….

I actually had a film lab in LA refuse to strike a print from another film’s 16mm film neg because there was a nude woman’s image on it. It wasn’t erotica, she was pretty much just twisting back and forth and seen from the waist up. Yup. This caused all kinds of ruckus with the lab and Cal Arts. Beverly O’Neill was Provost at the time (fantastic woman!) and she charged at them like a wild bull. Bill Moritz was really excited about it all, as he loved any kind of sexually incorrect behavior. Ha! I still didn’t get a print from them, but I thought that Beverly was very cool for that. :)

And HOW!

Posted on | September 13, 2013 | Comments Off

Here’s a shot that takes place in the hotel lobby where our main characters live. They’re about to go out dancing together.

“Happy & Gay” lobby scene from Lorelei Pepi on Vimeo.

“Happy & Gay” has the conceptual goal to bring out an awareness and focus on the intentional exclusion of the positive LGBT character in the early Hollywood cartoon. Negative stereotypes were plentiful, however! The politically aware 1960′s caused the complete removal of a large collection of offensive cartoons, with 11 of those being what historians considered important and significant animation achievements. During this rush to hide the offensive materials, there was never, ever any consideration of the negative stereotype depictions of LGBT as wrong or offensive. So, these continued to be part of the mainstream collection available to all audience.

In my film “Happy & Gay,” I cast positive LGBT characters and include those negative LGBT negative stereotypes, as well as the negative ones of other races and ethnicities. This is about context. One of the questions that I hope to provoke is “Which stereotype(s) do you find disturbing, and which are “okay” to maintain?” And then the eventual next question, “And why is that?”


Meeting the Devil

Posted on | June 28, 2012 | Comments Off

the Devil - Happy and Gay production shot ©lorelei pepi

I’m almost at the end of the film with my key poses and some in-betweening). One more shot to key pose and that’s DONE! Near the end of the whole escapade, the Bishop goes to Hell he meets the Devil, and you’ll just have to wait to find out why!

keep looking »