Former B-Town Blog intern Bryan Shickley has won the award for “Best Animation” at the 2023 Midwest WeirdFest film festival for his latest work, a short film entitled “Fred Crisman: Cave of the Space Nazis.”

This is the second award given to the young filmmaker’s short animation, which previously won the award for “Best Comedy” at GenCon in 2022. The film tells the unbelievable story of Fred Lee Crisman, a real-life adventurer who claimed to have battled a race of underground creatures called “The Deros.”

Shickley said his achievement at Midwest WeirdFest was all the more validating considering the competition he faced. The festival, which celebrates “the wild, the weird, and the wonderful” in independent cinema, showcased over 200 films from around the world, ranging from horror and sci-fi to comedy and documentary.

Shickley considered Crisman to be the key to his good fortune.

“For all his faults, the man was a heck of a storyteller, a heck of a pilot, and a hell of a charmer,” Shickley said. “Everything that I liked in a sci-fi story was there – tension, adventure, and the often-missing ingredient, comedy.”

Shickley said he was inspired to make the film after researching Crisman’s life following his fascination with the lore of the 2013 film “The Maury island Incident,” which was directed by Scott Schaefer and produced by Steve Edmiston, both of whom went on to produce Shickley’s own Fred Crisman adventure. Northwest comedy legend (of “Almost Live!” fame and more) Pat Cashman provides the voice of Crimson.

Schaefer and Edmiston provided the series with a much-needed trajectory, helping Shickley secure his 10 screenplays which all create a cohesive story spanning from the 1940s all the way to the 1950s. 

Shickley, who began his career as an intern at The B-Town Blog and went on to obtain his BA in Film at the Evergreen State College, intends to succeed in an increasingly challenging animation industry ecosystem.

“My peers are suffering from industry budget cuts and layoffs,” he said. “I’m trying to carve out a niche focused on compelling stories that combine live action elements with lower cost, modern animation techniques.”

“We live in a world with TVs that know when I’m dozing off and phone apps that literally complete my thoughts, yet many artists are hoping to go back to the animation traditions of the 1930s,” Shickley added. “I know better technology means we can be doing better as artists, and I believe Crisman’s further adventures are going to show what this industry could be, rather than what it currently is.”

The trailer for the film is available below:

YouTube player

More info on the Midwest WeirdFest is here:

Learn more about Shickley’s Fred Crisman: Cave of the Space Nazis” here:

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