I received this note from the “Wise Old Man” of Holland, Borge Ring, after I posted my piece about the Disney studio in the last days of the “Nine Old Men” – just before the new guys took ownership:
For you to add, share or ditch:
You touch upon top Walt Disney animators relaxing and losing their (story)mind
after Walt Disney died on them
I asked Marc Davis if Walt Disney’s death was followed by a period of
interregnum among the Nine Old Men.
Marc’s face turned sour
“Oh yes. There was no orderliness of production – Everybody did as they
pleased. Frank would go upstairs and take scenes that should’nt have been done
I must be getting old. I’ve gotten so tired of drawing storyboards, after all these years, that it came as a great relief to read that I no longer have to do all that arduous labor.
Now thanks to Amazon Storyteller (and the short description given by Amid Amidi from Cartoon Brew) the computer program will do the drawing for me. As the Amazon ad for the piece reads, “A storyboard can be 10 panels, or 100.” Once you place your “original script” into the program, designed and previously drawn characters will act out your script. All you have to do is add the script.
In a few days, Amazon Storyteller will rate your storyboard and tell you how good it is. (Just what I need, another boss.) This could be the start of something good.
All I need is Amazon Animator, so I don’t have to do that work either. I can just hire the machine to move my storyboard drawings with previously-animated scenes.______________________
The films this week came fast and furious. It started with Sofia Coppola‘s latest film called The Bling Gang. Based on a true story, it’s about a group of teenagers in LA who sneak into and rob the houses of celebrated girls, such as Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. Though we see alarms record the break ins and robberies, it takes a while for the police to investigate any of them. Eventually, all the teens are captured and end up in jail. You people living in LA can feel safe that they’re not out there to search your apartments for the latest in Laboutin shoes. Paris Hilton actually loaned her real home for the shooting.
The film feels a bit disinterested in the characters, and the whole thing feels a bit passive-aggressive. The best part of the film was that it ran quickly through its short 90 minute length.
Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera to photograph Sofia Coppola who came prepared to answer questions and whipped through those from moderator Brian Rose, a local film historian. Ms. Coppola does have a large and beautiful head, in the way of most stars. she reminds me a bit of Sophia Loren. Her interview will be on=line soon.
The next night brought a different kind of documentary, Twenty Feet from Stardom. It sounds like some kind of horror film, but it’s really about back-up singers. Their talent is obviously enormous, but stardom seemed to resist most of those on screen. It was nice to hear Bruce Springsteen and Sting talk about their back-up singers. Of course, the film was full of melody and had us dancing in or seats. Darlene Love is part time focus in the movie. Only after she’s working cleaning houses, does she gain respect for herself and her talent. She moves to New York where her career takes off, and she was a success story. She’s become a staple on the David Letterman
show every Christmas where she sings her hit, “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home).” A very entertaining 90 minutes, the movie zipped along and told its story well. One wonders how the producers of this film were able to secure the rights to many of the songs that played out on the soundtrack, everything from “Space Oddity” to “Walk on the Wild Side” to “Lean on Me.” The post screening interview between director, Morgan Neville and Brian Rose also moved quickly.
The Man of Steel was screened on Thursday evening. The latest adventures of Superman deal with his having to shave on Earth and his difficulties in getting a job prior to work at the Daily Planet.______________________
There was no post-screening interview, but I’m not sure how interested I would’ve been in one.
I’ve been talking about these post screening conversations for the pat few weeks, since the NY chapter of the Academy started scheduling them. These conversations have been placed on line and can be viewed if you’re interested. They’ve just posted the interview with Chris Wedge for his film, Epic. The virtual leader of Blue Sky talks about his film here.______________________
RIP – Murray Rosen
Cartoonist, Murray Rosen passed away this past week. Murray attended schools in New York City. Graduating from Pratt Institute, he went on to work for Walt Disney on Dumbo as a Cartoonist. He then returned to New York and worked for Famous Studios on Little Lulu and Popeye cartoons.
After marrying his wife, Shirley Binder on May 27, 1956, they moved to Maine where Murray operated an installation company for a friend’s storm window firm, remaining in the storm window business for 20 years. On May 8th, following a brief illness, he died with with his wife Shirley and friends at his side.______________________
Recently, in response to Andreas Deja’s comment – on his own blog – he called the animation for 101 Dalmatians an excellent example of “Modern Anmation.” I commented on this use of “Modern Animation”, and was challenged by one of my readers. Andrea K. Haid wrote: “The reason that Andrea Deja calls 101 Dalmations “modern” is because it is set in a contemporary environment with contemporary music. It was the first story told in an animated feature by Disney to be placed in a modern setting with modern artwork.”
To this I began to think back on animated features that were more current than others and came away with a bit of surprise for myself.
Viewing the Disney features in chronological order:
Snow White, of course, operates within a Fairy Tale land.
Pinocchio also oerates within that world.
Fantasia is all over the place, so I ignore that one.
Bambi, however, is absolutely current. We see no clothing or hear no coversation, but it can be without doubt that the film takes place when it was made, 1942.
Dumbo, however, is very current. The people are dressed for 1942, the action takes place then. Even the fringes of the civil rights movement attest to the date of the story.
Victory Through AirPower takes place during WW2 and is immediate in its action. The film, itself, is an attempt to sell the idea of using aviation to help win the War.
Of the package features, Saludos Amigos and Three Caballeros both take place currently. There could be no other approach in an attempt to melt the international curtains between North and South America.
For the sake of this essay, I won’t analyze the shorts in the rest of the packaged films. The Headless Horseman, The Wind in the Willows, are probably dated. While other shorts like Little Toot, Trees and Bongo are all current. They’re not worth defending.
Cinderella was 18th Century fairy tale land.
Peter Pan and Alice In Wonderland were 19th Century.
Sleeping Beauty, to the 17th Century fairy tale world.
Lady and thte Tramp back to the early 20th Century.
That brings us to 101 Dalmatians. Modern humans and dogs in modern dress.
Sword in the Stone was 16th Century England.
The Jungle Book was 19th Century, per Rudyard Kipling.
The Aristocrats was early 20th Century. (There were cars.)
Robin Hood was 17th Century England.
Let’s skip to the new generation of animators:
Toy Story 1, 2, & 3 were all today.
As was The Rescuers and The Rescuers Down Under. The UN is there, for pete’s sake.
Basil of Baker”s Street dated. The Fox and the Hound, current.
Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Hunchback of Notre Dame and Pocahontas were all hundreds of years old.
I don’t think I need go on. We are into “Modern Animation” and I think it has nothing to do with what period the film is set in.______________________
You step out onto the street on Monday, and you’re greeted by a hundred blue bikes. Sort of the same color as the lines on this page. I wasn’t expecting it. No double-parked cars.
The Citi decided that it’d be better for me if I took a bike. Rent the bikes for 2 minutes, then roll to the next check-in point. You pay some bucks and you take the biks. (They don’t offer bike-helmets for the softer-brained, accident-prone people. There’s just a lot of info about the fines you’ll pay if you go over the twenty minute rental time.
Last weekend everybody wanted a bike. (Aren’t they all girls’ bikes? What’s up with that?) They were all rented by couples speaking non-English. (A tourist thing, undoubtedly.) Only two gone so far this weekend. Meanwhile, no one has a parking space. At first I thought they were mopeds, like in Europe. We’d be hearing buzzing all day long in conjunction with the square jeep-type taxis.
We’ll see how it goes, though. No buzzing, a crash of cerulean blue, and lots of tourists reading the signs in groups of about eight.______________________
Jerry’s Visit and a Great Film Program
This is a note I received from Jerry Beck. It doesn’t take place until the end of July, but thought you’d like some advance notice, now.
I don’t know if you usually attend the Animation Block Party in Brooklyn,
but this year I’m going to come back to New York and introduce
a screening of Oscar winning shorts on Sunday night July 28th at 7pm
Munro / Gene Deitch / 8:20 min / 1960
Ersatz (The Substitute) / Dušan Vukotić / 10 min / 1961
The Hole / John Hubley and Faith Hubley / 15 min / 1962
The Critic / Ernest Pintoff / 4 min / 1963
The Pink Phink / Friz Freleng and Hawley Pratt / 6:38 min / 1964
Dot and the Line: Romance in Lower Mathematics / Chuck Jones & Maurice
Noble / 10 min /1965
Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass Double Feature / John Hubley / 6 min / 1966
The Box / Fred Wolf / 9 min / 1967
After the films I’m hoping to lead a 15-20 minute panel discussion about these films, and the Oscars, and the filmmakers… etc. I do not know who Animation Block Party are asking to be a part of it, but I thought I’d reach out to you myself – as an actual Oscar nominee, you’d be a great addition to the discussion.
I completely understand if you cannot attend, but I thought it was worth a shot.
Event is at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAMcinématek) located at 30 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn.