Animation writer Antony (Tony) Peters passed away this past Sunday in New York. He was a longtime Asifa-East board member and veteran animation story artist on several Rankin-Bass classics, including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Willie McBean & His Magic Machine and Tales of the Wizard of Oz. He also wrote episodes of Rocket Robin Hood and Grantray-Lawrence’s Marvel Super Heroes cartoons of the 1960s. Since then, he produced dozens of industrial and commercial films out of his studio, Instant Miracles in New York. David Levy has posted a proper obit on the Asifa-East website.
I met Tony once about fifteen years ago in New York and told him I was a big fan one his work on the 1960s Paramount cartoons. We both agreed his best film was The Itch (1965) – he was quite proud of it, in fact. So was Howard Post, its director, who told me how he decided to tell the story with Ronald Searle-inspired art style – and how he convinced actress Hermione Gingold, appearing on Broadway at the time, to come in to record, uncredited, the part of the wife. It hasn’t been shown much at all, and is one of the best cartoons the studio ever made — so here in tribute to Tony Peters, is The Itch:
Animator Hans Perk (whose wonderful Disney-centric blog is an essential read) has just posted a very rare find: a 1932 Disney party invitation to celebrate the switch in studio distribution from Columbia Pictures to United Artists. Hans points out that the invite is written by “Mickey” himself and suggests to current writers for the Mouse that “This is how Mickey should talk.” I agree.
Among the many benefits of living on the East Coast is that it’s a fairly close haul up to the Ottawa International Animation Festival, at least relative to when I lived on the West Coast. It can be a cheap trip too if planned right. NY filmmaker Fran Krause (recently interviewed on the Brew) encourages his students to attend every year, and he thinks it’s such a professionally valuable event that he puts together a guide for his students on how to experience the festival on a budget. This year he’s decided to share his Ottawa guide with the entire world, and he has good advice for anybody who needs to travel up there frugally. (A word of caution though: I heard some folks got bedbugs at the “jail” hostel last year. Personally I’d go with the hotel-split option. Just make sure to reserve early.)
I went to the movies last night (Terminator Salvation). Saw posters for what looked like a new animated film, Aliens In The Attic. But alas, as the trailer below shows, the film is actually a hybrid. The posters played up the CG aliens, not the live action cast (which includes teen queen Ashley Tisdale, comedians Kevin Nealon and Andy Richter). It looks stupid – and probably is. I thought you should be warned.
The CG characters were created at Rhythm and Hues.
Check out this self-produced mini-doc by writer Matt Zoller Seitz about Peanuts director Bill Melendez – covering his artistic roots, his directorial style, and his influence on the films of Wes Anderson. The juxtaposition of Melendez’s art between Hitchcock’s and Kubrick’s presents a fresh and exciting way of looking at animation in a filmic context. Bonus points to Matt who writes in the YouTube comments that he used my book Cartoon Modern as a resource when preparing this film.
It’s rare when Disney comics get a write-up in The Wall Street Journal, so today’s piece on the popularity of The Donald (Duck, that is) is long overdue. Disney’s comics are indeed more popular in Europe, and the standard characters (aka Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy and Pluto) are more well known today to children internationally than they are here in the USA. Susan Bernofsky does a good job explaining why Deutschland digs the Duck.
Brew reader Roy Miles writes, “I saw a commercial for this while watching Spider-Man cartoons with my daughter. I thought you would get equally creeped out as I did. The commercial was on Disney XD.”
The company takes Golden Age animation that has entered the public domain and adds “hip-hop” nursery rhymes over them. There are samples on the company’s website. The product’s highlights, according to them, are:
* 100% Profanity Free
* Perfect for those long road trips
* No derogatory themes or message
* Can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere and around anyone
* Introduce your kids to hip-hop the right way
* Will make you regret ever having kids
(OK, I made the last one up.)
Hey everybody, it’s “an animator’s shot of a lifetime,” according to the Fox network and Aniboom.com, who have teamed up to sponsor an outlandishly demanding contest that requires artists to make them a 2-4 minute holiday-themed short for no pay. Fox Broadcasting Company prez Kevin Reilly says, “Fox has long been the sole primetime animation powerhouse, and we’re searching for a fresh new animated holiday special that could potentially become an instant classic and maybe even a weekly series.” The rules are: “Make it funny. Make it edgy. Make it uniquely Fox.” The reward is a few bucks and some kind of a development deal at Fox.
Bottom line: Name me one well-known animation creator who has launched his or her career due to an online contest? Zip, zero, nada! These type of gimmicks are designed to bring attention to the corporations sponsoring them, not to help artists gain a foothold in the industry. Nevertheless, gullible, young and stupid artists who don’t know any better enter these contests by the legions inspired by years of conditioning from reality TV competitions that promise fame and fortune with minimal effort. The only winners in this contest are those who are intelligent enough to not waste their time entering this sham, and instead choose to pursue the path of success that every other great artist has followed in the past, and that quite simply involves hard work, determination and persistence.
The National Media Museum in Bradford, West Yorkshire will be presenting a comprehensive exhibit of the work of independent animator Joanna Quinn this fall. The show, which will be held from October 16, 2009 through the end of February 2010, will display works by artists that have influenced Quinn (such as Gillray, Daumier, and Goya), early artwork by Quinn, and plenty of production artwork from her short films (Famous Fred, Dreams and Desires: Family Ties, Britannia, Girls Night Out) and advertising work (most famously, her series of bears-wiping-their-asses commercials for Charmin). Over at Michael Sporn’s blog, there are scanned pages from the exhibit’s catalog with more artwork and details about what will be on display.
The Little Mermaid reunion in Burbank last night was a blast. Co-Directors John Musker and Ron Clements (and panelists including Andreas Deja, Reuben Aquino, Mark Henn, Duncan Marjoribanks, moderator Tom Sito, among others) told great stories on how the film got made and the highs and lows of casting, production, test screenings and the ultimate public reaction to the final product. (Asifa-Hollywood recorded the panel on video).
During the Q & A portion, John Musker mentioned seeing a remarkable (and a bit scary) You Tube video of Nick Pitera and his cover of Part Of Your World. Check it out below:
Even more interesting is Pitera’s “duet” of A Whole New World from Musker and Clement’s Aladdin.
Opening today in New York, L.A. and San Francisco is a wonderful documentary on the career of songwriters Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman – the Sherman Brothers of Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Winnie The Pooh, Charlotte’s Web and Snoopy Come Home fame. I saw this film the other night and it was very entertaining (loaded with their songs) and very enlightening (loaded with surprisingly intimate information about the duo).
It’s a really good film, but publicity for The Boys is not so good – and I think the film will only play for one week (in L.A. at the The Regent in Westwood, the AMC Meteron in San Francisco and Landmark Sunshine Cinema on Houston Street in NYC). Check it out this weekend – you’ll be glad you did.
The students may not be posting their films online, but the school is presenting a screening of this year’s work on June 9 and 10 at the Bloor Cinema in Toronto (located at Bloor and Bathhurst). Admission is $5. The screening on June 9 is at 7pm and the screening on June 10 is at 9:30pm. The line-up for the screening can be found on the blog of Sheridan instructor Mark Mayerson. The trailer below, showing snippets from various student films, offers a sense of what was made in Oakville this year:
Static: An Interactive Approach to Animation is a thesis film created by Jack Lykins in SVA’s Computer Arts program. All the video and audio playback in the film is controlled by turntable, and zooms and rotations are manipulated through a MIDI interface. In other words, the filmmaker can remix their film live and create a completely original experience each time. It’s fascinating to think of the possibilities this presents; like a DJ or jazz musician, a filmmaker can now improvise within the cartoon by remixing continuity, adding new clips, and revising ideas over time. The next Tex Avery just may have to learn to use a turntable too.
A Cartoon Brew reader pointed out this blatant ad on Craigslist asking animation artists to work on a Cartoon Network pilot with no guarantee of payment unless the show gets picked up for series. The ad reads:
Deferred payment 1st episode (no-pay), action/adventure series, Cartoon Network, paid assignments and/or production contract after 1st episode.
We decided to take the bait and contact them to find out who’s blessing the Internet with this wonderful opportunity to work for free. Here’s the response from Associate Producer Sasha Tyler at McNeal Enterprises:
Pilot/series is being produced for Cartoon Network, deferred pay 1st-ep(no-pay), regular pay other eps and/or production contract, in moving forward contact the project’s executive producer Kenny Mack, let him know position your interested in, strengths, skills, availability, etc; KMack@McNealEnterprises.biz or 800 481-9754 x 4, PST.
The only question that remains: Is Cartoon Network stupid enough to give these amateurs a pilot deal or are they sneakily using Cartoon Network’s name to trick young and inexperienced artists into working on a lame project for free? Either way, this company’s business practices have fail written all over them.