Sunday, February 25, 2007
I just turned on the Academy Awards in time to see Torill Kove win a heavy golden statuette for her animated short film "The Danish Poet", and it brought tears to my eyes. I loved Ms. Kove's charming film and am thrilled that she was so honored. But had any of the five nominees won I'd still have been sniffling.
I always get choked up seeing animators win Oscars. There's something so compelling, so right, so against the ever-widening grain of big business Hollywood when an individual who's an artist in the same line as myself and as the people I've always admired gets the same award that producers and directors and composers and movie stars do.
All the aforementioned are absolutely deserving, of course--but for animators it's often the only time they are honored on the same playing field as the most powerful people in what's arguably the world's most glamorous business. That they are still included in the ceremony is a proof to me that the Academy really values all filmic contributions--as it should, as it was created to do.
This is why I get annoyed when writers and pundits on both film and televison(who should know better) carp about their annual boredom at being forced to see "nobodies" like animators, sound designers, documentarians and set designers share the Oscar stage with what we're all supposed to be interested in--"stars". This, though as everyone knows the real reason that the ceremony runs four hours instead of two and a half is due to: too many montages(this comes from myself as a lover of clever and evocative montage--but after a few brilliant presentations that well's been drunk a bit dry); too much scripted banter that it's plain many of the participants would rather dispense with(thank you, George Clooney, for your always-welcome pointedness); and unwieldy ideas such as having the presenters for best screenplay read a segment of the script, alternating with the concurrent running of that particular clip of film--this, although god help the actual winner of best screenplay(adapted or original)--he or she will get a maxuimum of much too short a time before the music cuts them off.
But back to the animation nominees: the moment when an otherwise obscure artist is called to the stage is an amazingly emotional one...perhaps some guy writing for a newspaper somewhere doesn't care about it, but I'd bet Marty Scorsese (another jump-off-the-couch-and-scream moment for yours truly) and Thelma Schoonmaker(more screaming)do...editors are the friends of animation folk, dealing as they do with the painstaking assemblage of film. And directors--Scorsese knows as do most directors I'm sure--that animation is the ultimate experience of control of film. In the case of a massive feature, it's control that is shared with many people; with a short, it's one. Toiling on their films, I'm certain none of the filmmmakers are thinking of the Academy Awards...but for five of them, here they find themselves. In their recognition you have a perfect miniature of what the Academy is all about, really: not the TV show, or the glitz(that stuff is fun, no joke, mind you)--but the "honoring of our own", stretching back to 1931 and "Flowers and Trees"; Mary Pickford handing out a statuette to Walt Disney...and Bette Davis chairing an Academy meeting.
History makes me wistful. What was news last night is history now--and now maybe many many more people might see "The Danish Poet", and remember it.
So, congratulations again to Ms. Kove--and Gary Rydstrom, Roger Allers, Don Hahn, Geza Toth, Chris Renaud and Michael Thurmeier. I admire and am happy for all of you for getting there.
ADDENDUM: "The Danish Poet", along with several other nominated shorts both animated and live action, is available now for download for the tempting price of $1.99 on iTunes music store. No, I don't get a percentage.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Friday, February 9, 2007
I've had this for years, though I can't remember its exact provenance. I think it dates from the early 1960s, and was sold at the Disneyland Art Corner--the all too brief animation area of Tomorrowland, where cels from "Peter Pan" and "Sleeping Beauty" were scattered a foot deep in a bin for tourists to paw through, priced a buck or so apiece--while earlier, more valuable artwork from "Bambi", "Fantasia", etc. were matted and framed on the wall for a few dollars more.
Where'd I leave that time machine parked again?
The drawings inside are pretty much in the Walter Foster mold, clearly done by a studio veteran--a little staid for my taste, but miles better than what's usually done in this sort of book from the period. And thanks to Pete Docter, here's why--the artist was Paul Carlson, a Disney man with a great provenance. Pete was able to locate him and interview him at length when researching his article on John Sibley(which was published in the latest issue of Animation Blast, and is a must-read).
"The books were put together by Paul
Carlson, who was an assistant to Marc Davis and Eric Cleworth back in
the 50's and 60's. He's a great guy with some amazing Disney stories.
Anyway Paul told me he consulted Sibley for the "How to Draw Goofy"
book, Bill Justice for Chip and Dale, Bob Carlson for Donald, and
Lounsberry for Mickey."
[There's a bit more about Carlson, along with a picture taken just last year, at this archived ASIFA-Hollywood page]
And lastly, a word to aspiring animators from the man himself--as valid today as in 1961: