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An Artist and His Misadventure

Share your views on the state of the Animation Industry.

An Artist and His Misadventure

Postby EAllen » Wed Sep 08, 2010 11:53 am


By now, most of you have heard about Jeff Varab being arrested in Florida and charged with fraud in connection with his low-budget film Tugger: The Jeep 4 x 4 Who Wanted To Fly. Around two weeks after news of his arrest was disseminated, Varab wrote a rebuttal which (to my knowledge) was an AWN exclusive. Click on the preceding link to check it out yourself!

Now, we all know there are right and wrong ways to raise support for your independent project. If we have learned anything from Miracle Studios or Fathom (which actually completed a film) or even the major ones like Square Enix or Larry Kasanoff's Threshold Ent. for the long-delayed, maligned Foodfight (said company is currently embroiled in a lawsuit with the WB over a Mortal Kombat reboot) is that if the project isn't sidelined by production issues, a mutinous crew or technical maladies, Murphy's Law will be there at the point of Distribution to greet your team's attempt to aid the project in finding its audience with open arms.

At any rate, Tugger was distributed by Anchor Bay and can quickly be owned for not much money if you scour a few bargain bins either at Walmart or Walgreens or even Kmart.

For the lazy among us (me), go Amazon.

A blog entry on the The Orlando Sentinel website did a takedown on Varab, going to press with a one-sided account of Varab's character, based on thin allegations made by associates who claim had long-term working relationships with the former Disney artist. Granted, it's more than apparent that Varab has burnt some bridges, but an outrageous by any measure portrayal as an industry pariah is a harder sell, no matter how you cut it. Anyway, the blog entry (apparently written by Sentinel film critic Roger Moore, himself routinely besieged by reports of unethical behavior by film websites like, and see here for an episode where Erik Childress bestows upon him an "award", snarkily named the Michael Medved Bag O' Douche Award, for his work) concludes rather tactlessly by linking to vicious comments on a Guild blog entry on Varab, commenting on the comments in the process, thus all but accusing Varab of Nazi affiliation.

I was, to say the least, taken aback by what I saw on both sites.

Matt Dragovits is among the few industry pros who came to the defense of Varab's character. Matt got soundly thrashed, but conducted himself on the Sentinel site with class and dignity as he delivered his take on Varab and why it may be a bad idea to publish No Holds Barred-style Varab whippings like the ones you clearly see if you follow the links.

In defending Varab, online or offline, Dragovits is gonna need all the help he can get.

From forming and then dissolving Genesis Orlando, from being in bankruptcy court to criminal court, Varab serves as an extremely unfortunate example of what happens when the best of intentions go spectacularly awry due to improper planning, associations that go bad and an exit strategy that only serves to compound the negative experiences that emanate when you have a project that goes this far south in its fortunes.
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Re: An Artist and His Misadventure

Postby Charles » Wed Sep 08, 2010 3:21 pm

Thanks for posting this. I read it through on AWN. It was good of them to publish Jeff's rebuttal. Sounds like he went through some very tough times in the making of his film. Reading his account was an education for me. Dealing with this kind of thing is a huge distraction and very disruptive. I'm sure this will help to clear his name and get his life back on track.

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Re: An Artist and His Misadventure

Postby EAllen » Wed Sep 08, 2010 8:38 pm

I'm sure he appreciates your optimism, Charles, I'm tellin' ya.

It's likely that Varab will need a bit more than this to get his life and career back on track!
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