We don’t hear about those guys so I am guessing they are a plenty, especially since the advent of the DV camera. I would go further since I know personally people who self funded their film, completed it, got distribution and still didn’t make a dime. The guy who made Six String Samurai was living in a friend’s basement last I heard, but, hey, he got distribution and his film was pretty popular!
On the other hand, since the advent of the DV camera, how many have self funded and made films that really aren’t worth watching? I am guessing that skews the numbers a lot. If we limit it to those who made films that are, at least, as good as an Asylum film, I am guessing most will have gotten somewhere. Even if a TV channel or small distributor pays them $20K that’s something.
We are, however, talking about animation, which is a lot easier to sell if there is any semblance of quality. Remember Ralph Bakshi’s famous Comicon address, the “eat ramen for a year” speech? That’s advocating self funding your film. He claims that someone will definitely buy it and you’ll be a millionaire after that. That’s a best case scenario, of course, but any halfway decent, feature length animation will go somewhere when done.