Paul McCartney’s new cartoon Paul McCartney’s new cartoon
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Paul McCartney’s new cartoon

Rolling Stone reports that Paul McCartney will be writing a score for a new animated feature, based on a book he co-wrote, High In The Clouds. Caroline Thompson (Nightmare Before Christmas) is writing the screenplay, Rob Minkoff (The Lion King) is attached to direct.

The Rolling Stone piece ties McCartney to Yellow Submarine as an example of his past involvement with animation. Truth be told, the Beatles had almost no creative input in that feature, but Sir Paul did produce several nice pieces of animation over his career. My favorite is the video for Seaside Woman (1980) directed by Oscar Grillo, and Rupert and the Frog Song (1985) directed by Geoff Dunbar. Here’s the big “frog song” number from Rupert; note the abstract sequence at the 3:50 mark:

  • Tim Hodge

    I remember seeing this short in its theatrical release with “Give My Regards to Broadstreet” back in the early 80’s.

  • David

    Could be good.

    CG or hand-drawn ? Previously McCartney’s animated projects have been hand-drawn.

    Yeah, the Rolling Stone piece is inaccurate when it says : “The film will be McCartney’s first heavy involvement in an animated project since 1968’s Beatles cartoon Yellow Submarine”.

    McCartney has in fact been “heavily involved” in a number of animated projects , most directed by Geoff Dunbar . (if I recall, Dunbar was originally announced as the director of “High in the Clouds”) . See the DVD called : “Paul McCartney – Music & Animation Collection” , which includes making-of sections which show that Sir Paul was heavily involved in the production of these animated shorts.

  • Joel Brinkerhoff

    Eric Goldberg did some splendid animation for Sir Paul.

  • Those Oscar Grillo films with Linda McCartney turn the adage “if the soundtrack is good, the film will be good” on its head.

    He managed to make excellent pieces with questionable music -a nearly impossible feat.

  • Matt

    Man, I remeber seeing this sequence as a kid, or whatever age I was. Been a long time since I’ve seen it. Not exactly fitting the memory , but very good and nostalgic none the less.

    Thanks for posting.

  • I saw this frog thing on TV as a kid. I vividly remembered it for years, but I never knew what it was! I also never knew it had Paul McCartney behind it. Thanks for sharing! (By the way, wasn’t “Rupert” a preschool cartoon? He looks familiar.)

  • Gobo

    I’d say writing, producing, scoring, and voicing several animated shorts counts as “involvement”, Rolling Stone!

  • Let’s hope it’s hand-drawn.

    Having read “High in the Clouds”, it’s basically an expanded telling of McCartney and Dunbar’s “Tropic Island Hum”. In fact, in a “Making of” featurette that’s included in the DVD containing these shorts, McCartney had said that he was planning on a feature on that short, but I assume he had to put out the book first.

  • Kevin Dougherty

    Saying Sir Paul “had almost no creative input…” in “Yellow Submarine” is a tad harsh considering it’s based on music written by him (and some other guys.)

  • uli

    The abstract sequence was animated and designed by the real Mike Smith. So nice to see this again.

  • Cool for Sir Paul! Speaking of Rolling Stone, what ever became of the Mick Jagger production of the Rolling Stone’s animated film “Ruby Tuesday”?

  • I think I remember reading that McCartney was dissapointed when he saw the art for Yellow Submarine, hoping it was going to look more Disneyesque…

  • raul

    The abstract sequence was animated by the amazing Mike Smith.

  • Professor Widebottom

    Paul has said that he was a major Disney fan, and you can see all the signs of his inclination towards sentimentality here. I do like the abstract stuff and the direction that goes in. I wish the whole piece was like that. [Hoppity Hooper frog abstraction in the opening title still RULES!]

    These are nice cartoons but slightly sterile in a sort of KCET way, in my opinion. It must be nice to have the financial clout to oversee these projects that extend McCartney’s creative reach.

    Regarding Yellow Submarine: The Beatles were more-or-less passive during it’s production but they warmed up to it over the years. The “Songtrack” CD for the film was unique in that it was a true digital remix of the multitrack masters and is brilliant sounding.

  • Christopher Cook

    I talked to Jack Mendelsohn, who did the screenplay for “Yellow Submarine,” by phone back in 1983, and he said apart from the music the Beatles had no involvment and actually didn’t want it made (it was first agreed upon as the Beatles had a three-picture deal with United Artists and an animated feature fell out of that jurisdiction). But after they saw snippets of it, they did the live-action bit at the end.

    Mendelsohn spent three weeks writing the screenplay but Erich Segal (“Love Story”) has been the guy credited for it–even getting on “To Tell The Truth”–because Al Brodax brought him in to punch up what Mendelsohn had already done and therefore Segal was the last guy doing anything with the screenplay.

  • One sweet Paul and Geoff collaboration was the 15-minute short “Daumier’s Law” in 1992 – a nice moody and minimalist riff on Daumier’s oeuvre. I saw it by chance on Bravo in ’93 – wish it was on YouTube, but can’t find it for online viewing. However here’s a nice “making of” article (about halfway down the page):

    You can see about 30 seconds’ worth of the film in Geoff’s showreel, which has clips from all over his filmography:

  • Tom Minton

    The late commercial director Paul Fennell (whose name appeared in the recently unearthed early 1930’s trade publication ad celebrating Mickey Mouse shorts as an assistant animator here on the Brew) as a septugenarean storyboard artist at Filmation in 1978 told me of an encounter he had with all four Beatles behind his hotel in NYC when they were in town rehearsing the Ed Sullivan show. He made small talk with them but when he mentioned he was a cartoonist, Paul McCartney took sudden interest, becoming very enthused when Fennell related that he’d once worked with Walt Disney. The other three Beatles, not so much. Both McCartney and Lennon had attended art school but Paul seemed to harbor and nourish a genuine animation jones over the years. His financial advisors in the past actively discouraged him from funding a full length animated feature. Perhaps he’s finally outlived those people. I second Jerry’s opinion that Oscar Grillo’s “Seaside Woman” is the best designed and executed of any of Sir Paul’s shorts. Grillo has an ability to make things that are at once slick and personal, which is tough in 2D and, to date, impossible in CGI.

  • Hey, I saw this as a kid too!

    I had forgotten how much I loved it :)

  • If you want to see lack of involvement in a Beatles cartoon, look no further than the Saturday morning cartoon version of the Fab Four:

  • Well, Sir Paul may have mentioned a fondness for classic Disney, but surely, he must have also had a guilty pleasure type fondness for those HAPPY HARMONIES, and I could imagine that his inspiration may have come from such cartoons as “THE OLD MILL POND”, “HONEYLAND” and “TO SPRING”, and it makes me smile to know that Paul brightened up when someone started talking about cartoons!!

  • Leedar

    Thanks, Raul! I thought it might have been some ‘unsung hero’, but apparently not. :-)