<em>The CalArts Story</em> <em>The CalArts Story</em>

The CalArts Story

Fascinating 1964 promotional film created by Walt Disney that lays out his vision for CalArts. Sadly, Walt’s dream never came to fruition: “The art students mingle with the musicians. Sculptors mix with singers, painters with printmakers, and between times, find opportunity to know each others’ work and informally exchange ideas.” Nowadays, a lot of CalArts animation students can’t even be bothered to use original music in their films–if you’re not going to interact with the other artistic communities, what’s the point of attending a multidisciplinary art school?

More info about The CalArts Story at the official CalArts blog 24700.

(via Drawn)

  • Anonymous CalArts Alum

    I agree with your assessment Amid. When I was there in the late 90’s /early 2000’s I heard a lot of students complaining about that very thing: The school is advertised as being interdisciplinary but there aren’t any opportunities for that kind of collaboration to really happen. The students main complaint was that the school was not set up to allow this and that it wasn’t encouraged or supported by the faculty. Looking back, I think it was simply a matter of shyness and/or laziness on the part of the students themselves. All they had to do was take some initiative and approach someone from other schools. There were plenty of opportunities to do that. Maybe some incentives could have been put in place by the school to give credit for interdisciplinary projects but if it had originated from the students themselves -which is what I think Walt wanted- it would have happened.

    There were a few exceptions. Several animators I knew, including me, always used theater students (and even professional actors) for voices in their films, used dancers for physical reference and got music students to score their films but generally- many animators just kept to themselves.

  • I know nothing about what things are like in animation education, but I definitely believe that the most original and interesting entertainment and art comes from interdisciplinary collaboration.

  • MattSullivan

    How intriguing to think this is what COULD have been. Still, I wouldn’t trade my own CALARTS experience for ANYTHING. It was the most fun I ever had anywhere and anytime in my life.

    CALARTS is the best. Despite what John K thinks about it.

  • krisanka

    wow, another post bashing calarts. originial

    maybe you should visit the school during film time every once in a while and see what students can’t actually be bothered with before jumping to conclusions

  • I think the same can be said of your comment, krisanka.

  • amid-bashing is becoming as mindless and insurgent as the subject of amid’s posts according to amid-bashers.

  • I was working at Disney during the production of this film. I still remember the scale model of the Cal Arts campus Walt was so proud of.

    A lot of Walt’s dreams failed to materialize back in the sixties. Mineral King, EPCOT, and yes, even Cal Arts never became what the Old Maestro intended.

  • Rob

    Can’t speak for CalArts, but I’ve definitely noticed similar situation when I was in school.

    The Film department did seem set up to connect film students with respective students in sound design, viz fx, graphic design for posters and actors. But for animators doing their thesis, it felt like the animation dept was on a separate planet. Because it was so infrequent to have voice actors, etc sought out to work on a thesis film, it felt like pulling teeth, running around these different departments trying to find someone who was interested.

    A lot of the blame should be placed on the anim students, if they sought out these people out more often, it would be more of an everyday occurrence, and a inter-department system would and should’ve eventually be set up. But for all these ‘freelancers’ in other arts, without the push of a assignment to work on other’s films, its too easy to pass up. It would be great if there was more of an effort by the school to connect similar classes (I.e. sound design for anim, voice acting, etc.) to thesis students.

  • CalArts Alum Not From Character Anim.

    Please don’t be too quick to generalize CalArts so. I graduated the experimental animation department by the way, I think people seem to keep forgetting two animation departments exist at CalArts.

    First, on the comment about the original music…

    While I do think sometimes shyness and laziness prevents the animation students from getting original music, I think a lot of the students DO try to get composers to do the music for them nowadays. You can see a lot of posters and fliers looking for composers or voice actors for the animation students’ films during the second semester. Many students make their own music, too. It does happen now and then that at the last minute they fail to find someone able to do it, and choose the easy way out. But during my time there it seemed that most people would try to find someone from the music department. I wonder if the notion of “a lot” might have something to do with the fact that there are just more animation students and more films coming out of CalArts. In any school not everyone does it right from 1 to 10. I would try a more accurate assessment based on percentage to support my opinions.

    Second, about there being no interaction between the different communities..

    I think CalArts has plenty of interaction compared to a lot of schools. Especially because of the size and close proximity, and more freedom in taking classes in the other departments there’s a lot of learning from each other. It may come out more blatantly in some cases, and in some more subtly. If anyone has actually looked properly into the CalArts curriculum, they would know about the “Integrated Media” program there. It’s an actual major for the grad school students there, it is in addition/conjunction with your primary focus. When you apply for the Masters program for any department, be it animation, film, music, dance, theater, etc, you can apply for an additional IM(Integrated Media) major. Students who get accepted for both do their work in each of their own majors while continuously attending additional classes and seminars for IM, in which they sit with other IM majors from all the other disciplines and collaborate. They have a year end show every year where different teams of combined majors put on some truly amazing pieces. A lot of it focuses on using new digital technologies, but there seems to be not much of a limit on what they come up with to do. They not only use multiple disciplines and techniques, the IM Show uses a variety of locations which makes you move around the entire school to see all the work. I would highly recommend it to anyone to go see it. I think it would be unfair to all those IM students to say that there’s no interaction at CalArts. I was an art major before I went to CalArts for grad school, and although there was plenty of hanging out and sharing thoughts between each other from different majors, people mostly stuck to their own ways with their thesis work so the interaction didn’t necessarily show in the content of the work. Compared to that, I actually feel CalArts is pretty strong in terms of the interaction and mixing of different arts, especially when boosted by the actual curriculum. It might be a bit harder for the undergraduate students to do something like this, but I think everyone learns a lot from each other and then integrates it how they see fit into their films. I would say those would be the cases when the influence is more subtle, but just because it’s not blatantly visible like the art that’s purposefully meant to be mixed media films, I wouldn’t call the influences non-existent.

    I think CalArts students are always working hard to create their art the way they feel best represents themselves. It’s definitely not perfect, but no school is and no art is either. As an alumni, I comment a lot on the problems of the school, how it’s run and the facilities it provides, I think there is a LOT on the part of the school that needs to step up in terms of how it is being run. But in terms of the students and the art that’s being made there(and not just from the character department), I think Walt’s vision is definitely not lost.


    A) First of all, yes, try walking into the school, upon which the first fact will make itself very clear. You’ll notice flier after flier from animators asking for musicians to compose scores for their films, sound mixers for sound design, and actors for VAs. ESPECIALLY DURING peak film time.

    B) You also have many musicians reaching out to offer their compositional services to the film school as well, sometimes asking for animators to help them with projects, story boarding, poster design, etc.

    C) So yeah, okay, not every single person is totally mixed in with every single department in the school, that may be somewhat true. But aside from the LARGE fraction that does work with other departments, does that mean the rest of the student body is ignoring everyone? NO. Crunch time during second semester is fucking intense. The work load, films, critical studies, it can nearly break you. Sometimes students just cannot be blessed with the time needed to really seek out a composer, VAs, gathering the equipment, renting the facilities, producing foley, directing said actors, working with composers, without the risk of failing a class, or not having enough time to animate or work on all the visual faucets of one’s film, etc. Especially when (which has always been the Calarts norm) you are working on a film BY YOUR SELF. It’s challenging. Some manage to do it, others can’t, and time and workload are THE deciding factors. Some come in to the character department with previous college credits, and have the time to do these other things. But others have no credits and a much tougher situation to get everything done, if that even. It’s just the way it is, and I don’t recall the student body being composed of angelic beings that can somehow perfectly balance 20 to 25 credits, workstudy jobs, a completely finished, sound mixed film, getting actors, musicians, into the mix within a 3 to 4 month production period. It’s not exactly “Yo bro, need music!” “Sure, here!” “Awesome, thanks!”. It’s very involved. TIME. IS. A. FACTOR.

    D) Oh yeah, try visiting the school.

  • I survived several interdisciplinary projects in college. Good ones are hard to engineer. More typically they tend to be advantageous for one discipline but a burden for the other. Students from the “other” discipline tend to be looked at as free labor and not as students who are paying tuition to be taught something.

    Who’s in charge? If it’s not *my department* who’s going make sure that it’s not a waste of time? Who’s going to structure it so it’s worthwhile for everyone? Is there anyone who knows enough about all of it to do that? Who’s going to evaluate my work and give instructive feedback?

    There’s more to it than just asserting it’s a good idea.

  • Sam

    Just have to say, as a student, some what your saying isn’t really..well, right. Many of the students have original music and many of us work very closely with the music students who compose our films. Not to mention, many of the copyrighted music used is used for a specific purpose, whether it be a laugh or something else.

    Do we spend a lot of our time with students from the other programs? No, and that is our fault. However, I feel like the blanket statement you made wasn’t really fair.

    Just had to put that out there.

  • Ken Bruce

    Best years of my life. But the students who wanted a curriculum handed them on a plate would be disappointed. CalArts was best for the self starters and the motivated. And all the other disciplines of art were there; all you had to do was make the connection.

    Everything I wanted to do at CalArts I was able to do. There were hiccups and speed bumps along the way, but I left knowing I’d accomplished everything I’d ever wanted to accomplish and then some. Additionally, and probably most important, it gave me all the connections I needed to lay anchor in the animation business.

    Times have changed since I was there in the 80’s. I do hope that it has some of the spirited self motivated talent it did when I was there and that the school continues to nurture artists.

  • David Breneman

    What a beautiful, inspiring film, and an impressive transfer to low-resolution “web video”; although it looks like the progressive-scan digital transfer was made from an interlaced-scan video transfer from film. It’s really sad that we’ve lost the belief that the future can be a brighter, better place. Who’d bother making a proposal like this today, if there wasn’t some “ulterior motive”? And who would take the proposal seriously? Los Angeles used see itself a model for the “metropolis of the future”. Now it’s the poster child for post-modern urban decay.

    The narrator sounds like Sebastian Cabot. Any idea if that’s who it really is?

  • Uggh

    Dear Amid,

    I know we will never be able to change your mind about CalArts. We get it…you just don’t like it and you never will. Nothing ever said or written will convert you or change your mind. That’s fine. Everyone is worthy of their opinion. I just feel it’s time you retire your hater shtick because your responses are predictable and old. I come to this site for info and your predictable comments are time out of my week that I can’t allocate on my timecard. I wish I could add your opinions to a junk filter.
    That is all.

  • Once again… just generalizations. The film I made at CalArts, along with many others made there, used original music composed by students in the music department. Although many animators think it’s good enough to just put library stock music in their film just to fill the silence, many go further and get original music made.

    It all comes down to being DRIVEN enough to reach out to others and get them involved. How else could that collaboration even happen… automatically? I guess so, maybe.

    All these generalizations don’t really help inform anyone of anything, if you ask me…

  • OUTSTANDING watercolors in that film!

  • theoutsider1983

    Why wasn’t CalArts built in Hollywood?

  • I have to admit, this actually offended me. The reason being is because as an experimental animation student (recent graduate), I can tell you that not only do students mingle with other departments, but there are many animation students who ask for original music, post ads asking for composers and sound designers, and your generalization doesn’t even come close to the truth. Hell, whether we like it or not we are required to take a class in one of the other schools, so there is exposure to other departments.

    True not everyone uses original music, but to say, “a lot of CalArts animation students can’t even be bothered to use original music in their films” just sounds snobbish and uninformed.

  • Duze


    My experience at CalArts was very much close to the vision Walt was talking about. Of course, like Floyd pointed out – nothing is ever EXACTLY as he intended. Hell, Disneyland was supposed to be a little train ride across from the studio, initially. I’m not sure where this CalArts you seem to have in your mind exists. Perhaps that’s just it. In your mind, or from afar like an armchair football coach.

    I can only speak from my perspective from the experience in the animation department, but … Ask how many of us collaborated with music students this year for their films. Ask how many times we or experimental or fine arts students would sit in the halls and sketch the dancers practicing in the Main Gallery, or be inspired by the latest production from the theatre department, or took acting courses, or joined a singing club, or participated in what the dance department had to offer or any number of other such collaborations and interminglings. I have a feeling if you actually spoke to the students the answers would shock you. I, myself, collaborated with one of the music students throughout my entire film this year. The same guy helped out on several other films in Character Animation AND helped write a theatre production for which he also wrote the score. I’m sure follow up posts to this backing me up will come flooding in (not to mention the ones that already have).

    The very layout of the school forces you to be exposed to the other departments. You can’t walk to the restroom without running into a jazz band rehearsing or dancers working out a new routine. Even in your own private work space, you can hear musicians playing new work through the walls. Or I don’t know how many times I’ve seen posters from the Graphic Design department for Theatre productions or a Film Showcase.

    I could go on citing examples from my four years there, but judging a place from afar or from the select films you see at a year-end showcase is an unfair way to assess the situation. Perhaps not EVERY one of the students has collaborated as I’ve describe, but a good majority has and have made great friends between the departments, developing relationships I’m sure will lead to producing great professional work together. Um, … isn’t this the same school that Tim Burton and Paul Rubens met up at? Just to cite the most obvious contradiction to your statement.

    Ken, be assured – the students who choose to be self motivated and seek out all that CalArts has to offer are still around and doing well.

    Best years of MY life spend there, too. Thanks, Walt.

  • Amelia

    Amid have you been to the school? Have you taken classes there? Have you mingled with the students? Have you walked around the campus? Have you lived in the dorms? I’m guessing the answer to this question is probably, NO. No, you haven’t. I guess you’ve watched like maybe a dozen or two Character Animation films online. You are aware that Character Animation is one department from one school at Calarts? You are aware that other artwork gets created at this school right? Much of it from *gasp* other departments. Have you seen any performances? Like real live performances? With actors and dancers and musicians? Have you been to the art openings? I mean jesus, you probably haven’t even been to the Open Show. Haha, or probably not even the Producer’s Show! What the crap do you even know about this school?

    I was a character animation student there, and honestly I could have taken much better advantage of what was there in front of me. AN ORGI OF ART, AMID!!! Even still with minimal effort….I worked with a film composition student on my second year film. I traded books and ideas with a girl from the theater school. I watched an African Dance class perform, which was comprised of interdisciplinary students, many of them from Character Animation. I went with the film directing students to watch the actors perform skits. I took a computer programming class with students from the music school. My roommate was from graphic design. We talked endlessly about our work and our classes. I learned how to screen-print t-shirts in the screen-printing lab. I sat in critical studies class after critical studies class with students of all programs and schools. Experimental students were taking character classes. Character students were taking experimental classes.

    Not to mention just the god-damned ambiance! Hearing someone playing the trumpet in the distance somewhere. Walking by some actor rehearsing his lines. Walking through the main gallery and looking at that jacked up modern art. Just because your not actually collaborating with artist doesn’t mean their work doesn’t affect you.

    Calarts is what you make of it. Its a bunch of artists in a building. Nobody is there telling you to do anything. Its a big organic mess. Sometimes awesome stuff gets made, sometimes not. Its what you make of it. For me it was the experience of a lifetime and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

    So yeah I guess not every character animation student uses original music in their films. Yeah I guess Walt’s dream is dead in the water. /s

  • I go to CalArts and I used a licensed song in my film this year because it was the best choice for my story.

    I did collaborate with a music composition student on an original song for seven months. We used a particular well-known licensed song as a springboard to inform our musical direction. While he did a fantastic job, ultimately I felt the immediate recognition and cultural equity inherent in that licensed piece made the crucial story point it underscored more relatable and more powerful, and therefore improved the overall film.

    And I’d argue the same was true for my classmates who chose similarly. Why should licensed music be withheld from the student filmmakers toolbox? Our intent in making these films is not explicitly commercial.

    For the record, in the 2010 Open Show, for every one film that used licensed music, there were six boasting original soundtracks, and the majority of those were composed in collaboration with CalArts music students.

  • Kirsten

    I’m a CalArts experimental animation MFA. An hour ago I was playing pictionary w/ some CalArts musicians, a film/video major, and 2 other animators. I play in the Indonesian Gamelan ensemble, and will be booty bumpin’ in an African dance class next fall. Oh yea, we’re mingling alright.

  • I would bet every one of them who DID use licensed music didn’t even bother to explore the option of permission.
    You don’t know unless you ask and I know several folks who had permission to use a licensed track after the wrote and asked.

    That aside, if you’re using licensed music you need your head examined.

  • Having not watched this promo film yet, on the topic of “artistic communities working together”, I can’t agree more, especially in animation.

    This medium is such a “team” effort, i can’t stress that enough. Even short-indie films need at least “2” people working on it. Maybe one for animation/design and a second to possibly create some cool, original background music.

    I’m watching alot of Zagreb Films recently and it puts me to tears there’s not more independant film houses that cater to “cartoons” anymore. This may have been a little off-topic, but if there’s folks out there who’re interested in making Zagreb/UPA/Avery styled ‘toons.. give me a shout! I want to revive the genre! :)

  • Liesje

    You know what they say about making assumptions…

    I can’t speak for Cal Arts but I know one of the main reasons I chose to attend UArts in Philly was because of the interaction between the majors. I took classes in fashion, film, multi-media, writing, sculpture, etc. When it came time to score my films or get voice actors, I put up fliers and talked to my musician friends. One in particular would actually hang around the film and animation floors, chatting with the animators. He ended up scoring almost half of the student films.

    That being said, there were plenty of students who never made use of the ‘resources’ at hand and, yes, many of them complained about it after the fact. It’s like what many of the folks here have already stated. Laziness or shyness and then blaming their lack of initiative on the school.

  • christy

    anyone know who scored this? i like the music!

  • Anonymous

    Amid, why don’t you try getting your facts straight before posting statements like that? The majority of CalArts animators DO use original music in their films. If you bothered to actually visit the school instead of bashing it all the time, you’d see a slew of fliers made by students looking to collaborate on projects.

  • M’Da

    I spend more time in the Music school than I do in my cube :D

    …AND I designed two music students debut albums… One during film time… Plus, eleven recital posters.

  • Reabanato

    The music sounds like George Bruns leading the 1960’s Disney house band, even overdubbing the ‘student music’ and ‘jazz’ sections. It also sounds like Sebastian Cabot narrating, only a few short years before he made the album of the century, “Sebastian Cabot, Actor – Bob Dylan, Poet.” Cal Arts may not have panned out exactly as Walt intended, but it did produce the key players who made Pixar, and no other college on earth can claim that distinction. Cal Arts didn’t end up adjacent to the Hollywood Freeway because in the end that land wasn’t available, as alluded to in the film.

  • When I was at CalArts, I tried to interact with everyone.
    I had the uber talented Dustin Boyer do music for my first and second year films, and always sought out theater students to provide the voices.
    My work study job was in the prop storage room. The BIG props, like couches, chairs and whatnot, not the little crap like cigarette lighters and swords. This brought me into contact with EVERYONE.
    I would assume that you make such a sweeping, judgemental statement based upon the most recent student films. If so, that is a fair cop I suppose. Or…you could do what you recently chided Daily Variety for NOT doing and actually ASK the students about their CalArts experience. It would make for a more interesting article, Amid, and you would actually have an informed opinion for once.

  • Kit Wilkins

    Sounds like someone got rejected from Cal Arts and is bitter. It’s ok, I know that jealousy really gets some people flustered and confused. It’s fine.

    You’d be dead wrong about what you said though. There’s so much collaboration that I didn’t even know that, for instantce, Zoe was an Experimental student. Sometimes it’s hard to pin people’s major they collab so much.

    Sometimes, like David said, copywriten music just works better because it’s recognized. I was battling with using copywritten music for my film because my composer was a big ole drunk that was very incompetent and lazy. lol. Getting composer is a LOT harder than you think it is. There are no classes that force composers to work with you. You simply put up your ad and people respond that want to. And sometimes the people that respond aren’t always the best.

    I had about 4 composers last year. They all, except for the last one fell through. My composer gave me my music and I was happy with it. It’s just a lot harder than you think it is.

    It’s ok Amid, I know some people just aren’t going to let go that they weren’t accepted. Hell I bash Cal ARts more than most people in the program but sometimes you’re just wrong.
    You are very wrong.


  • I’m curious, Amid.
    Do you make such sweeping, wildly inaccurate, uninformed statements like the one above because you actually believe them or do you do so in order to increase traffic?
    Again, I’m just curious.

  • A.) About this post itself- It’s actual relevance to animation is tenuous and shaky, it describes a time at calarts before there was even an animation program. Sure its about the founding of one of the world’s leading animation schools, but Calarts as an animation school is far outside the scope of this film. Your comments on it Amid, are straight Calarts bashing. I defy anyone to find a something in Amids comment that justifies why it was posted, other then to give him an opportunity to jab calarts, turn on the backlash machine, and score a bunch of hits in a beautiful one-two punch. For those of you defending Amid, please, look at his comment. He says the video is fascinating. That’s one sentence (one word, actually) about why the video is posted, and then makes two lengthy, antagonistic sentences about the school’s shortcomings. This opinion would be fine, and worthy of discussion, if it wasn’t so grossly misinformed, which leads me to point two-

    B.) I think you’re making some pretty rash assumptions, and if we’re doing that, I think I can safely assume that you’ve never set foot on Calarts campus. Is that right Amid? Because as hater’s gonna hate said, the campus is littered with flyers seeking musicians to work on animated films, regular films, theater productions and dance pieces. I could go into how the rest of the school THRIVES on collaboration, but I’ll keep it focused on animation. I sat down and went through the producer’s show, and discovered that of the 25 films- 16 collaborated with a musician (or composed original music themselves), 2 of which I’m unsure, and the remaining 7 used copyrighted music. Of those 7 that used found music, I would argue that all but two of them used it because it was essential to the story, for reasons David Wolter listed above. That’s not bad when you think about the producers show as a microcosm for the whole department (which in this case, I can assure you it is). More then half the students used original music, and those using found music are using it FOR A REASON. And, even among those who used found music, many of them still collaborated with sound designers, or actors from the theater department. There’s no other way to say it Amid, you are blatantly WRONG in your assertion.

    C.) That all said, come visit us Amid. Seriously. This fall semester, come visit us. I’m a campus tour guide for workstudy, and would be happy to give you a tour. Or better yet, come on an idle tuesday night, midnight, and walk through the cubes. See how busy and alive they are. See how may people are working even then. Talk to the students, ask them questions. Ask them why they use copyrighted music. Ask them if they’ve tried to find a composer. Learn some things about the school and the people here before next May comes around and you start bashing our films and school again.

  • Butthurt.

    I chose my school cuz it’s cheap and has a good animation program. Also it’s the student’s fault for not mingling with other majors. You could have all the interdisciplinary bs in the world and a good chunk of animators would never even dream of pursuing it! Because a lot of us are too lazy/shy to do it and the only way some of us are ever going to incorporate other students into our work is if we just happen to be roommates with someone outside our major. And even for that some of us would only consider it if we’re pressed for time. IE me.

  • victoria

    I’m sick of these Calarts posts really who cares about one school in huge field with so many other schools to choose from.

    And not that it really matters but alot of people doing well in areas like character design seem to self taught anyway.

  • Just speaking from experience, I tried many a year to get original music from someone in the music department. After multiple meetings with people, only one was able to get me a soundtrack. I’m sure he tried his best, but it was something that didn’t fit the tone of my film at all. Film time gets really busy, so unless the students really plan ahead, and the stars align and they can find a music student on the same page, it could work. I agree it would be the best to have original music, and for the departments to work together. Kudos to those who can manage it!

  • Was this supposed anti-CalArts post mentioned on some CalArts forum or something?

  • Caresse

    I most agree with the comment from “HATERS GONNA HATE”

    Animation Students who don’t come from wealthy family’s and are going straight to college from high school have: jobs, humanities classes, and a commute to factor into their schedule – which was the case for me. I did however manage to use original music – thanks to my sister being a musician and my debt inducing purchase of equipment.

    Playing Devil’s Advocate though – I think making smart choices means sometimes making tough choices. If I could do it all again, as a native New Yorker I would have gone to CUNY first and let the government pay my tuition, get all my liberal arts credits and THEN take out a loan to go to art school. It would have pushed my dreams back some years, but I would have had less stress and more time to focus when I finally got to art school. I also would have had more time to mature, and would have avoided the potentially career-haunting social faux pas I committed.

    But, you live and learn, I guess.

  • As a current CalArts student, active member of the student body, as well as the current student trustee I say openly, CalArts is what you make out of it. Not everyone who come into CalArts will be successful- it’s the strides you take that determine your path here. With that said I am proud to wear CalArts as a brand, and have not one regret about joining a community of some of the most talented, innovative, artistically diverse, tastefully experimental, passionate and fervent artist- globally. CalArts is a community that needs no introduction, our work speaks for itself and is a prelude for all that we manifest.

    P.S. Being an Artist isn’t a career choice for the CalArts community- it’s the air we breathe that keeps us living.

  • Rob

    Ward, it was actually mentioned in the syllabus for ‘Defending your Illustrious School 101’.

    CalArts folks, I’m sorry your nerve got hit, but what I think we should take away is that in an art school, there should be greater interspersion between the majors within the classes at all schools.

    And seriously, please stop with the knee jerk hissy fits. I thought Californians were supposed to be easy going. Let your work do your arguing (and from what I’ve seen, it does)

  • Mike Bell

    I was in the Character Animation program and I did at least one project with every school while I was there as well as take classes offered by the different schools. My last two years the Art school even gave me a studio to use.
    Thanks for putting up that promo it was great.
    But your last comment makes me think you haven’t looked that deeply into the place and what it has done for the other arts, mixed and not.

  • It is possible that Sherman and Sherman scored this promo.
    Back in the day, I saw this on “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” TV show on NBC.

    At the time, the rumor was that CalArts would function as Disney’s “farm club” to develop talent. I figured if that intention were true, then why did he have live deer in his in-house art classes? To me, Walt had already solved his problem. His dream for EPCOT was WAY more interesting than a Temple of Art.

    As a paperboy in Burbank, I remember being mystified at Valencia as the final choice for CalArts: “Valencia is like a hundred miles from the Studio!” lol

    Thanks for the post,

  • amid

    Watching well upwards of 400 student shorts a year from every corner of the globe, the use of licensed music in a student film is a bush league mistake. To see it as widespread as it is at CalArts (i.e. more than one film) is a huge flaw, and the fact that the school has a music program makes the situation that much more embarrassing. Try looking at the percentage of films coming out of RCA, RISD, and other world class animation programs and see how many of those students use other people’s music. You’ll find it to be negligible.

    As to my comment about Walt’s vision for CalArts not being realized, that’s not exactly a revelation. This film just makes that fact more painfully clear.

    Since so many CalArts students have attempted to paint my comments in a negative light, let me just state for the record that I harbor no ill will towards CalArts and never have. But I do hold the school to a higher standard. It is the Michael Jordan of character animation programs in the US and as such, they’ve got to deliver more slam dunks.

  • Professor Widebottom

    I just liked watching this visionary film, because it’s the kind of artifact from the Disney archive I thought I’d never see. I looks really clean and you’ve got yer Sabastian Cabot and your idyllic LA acrylics. I sense the cultural vibe of the 60’s setting in and yet there’s the conservative hand of Disney kind of reigning it in. I felt a tension knowing that these cultural fronts were destined to collide.

    From what little I know about the school, Cal Arts kind of had to shed its tie with the Disney brand to comport with the “serious” academic community. So it became its own animal and one that is highly regarded… and expensive, which is annoying.

    In the late Seventies, I met Jack Hannah there and he told me to reapply in the animation dept after I’d “matured at bit”. What a hauntingly oblique thing to say to a kid who just wanted to be an animator. That event scarred me for life and I’ve I’ve been bitter ever since. –Just kidding, although the Jack Hannah story is true and it kind of knocked me back a bit.

  • Jena

    Amid, you say “many CalArts students have attempted to paint my comments in a negative light.” First, that’s a mixed metaphor. I am only being so particular because you are writing as if that initial post was unbiased. And I thought negative referred to “lacking positive qualities.” Nowhere in this statement do I see anything positive: “Nowadays, a lot of CalArts animation students can’t even be bothered to use original music in their films—if you’re not going to interact with the other artistic communities, what’s the point of attending a multidisciplinary art school?”

    And in response to your rhetorical question (“what’s the point of attending a multidisciplinary art school?”) , the greatest benefit of attending CalArts are the connections the school provides. Though many of the relationships I am referring to are based within the animation department and with visiting artists, that isn’t to say that those are the only relationships formed in the school. It would be foolish not to prioritize interdepartmental connections over the interactions one may have with another department. Though, when a student is not in class, working on a film or assignment, or attending a guest lecture, it is fair to say that student may be at a function involving other departments within the school building connections and “interacting with other artistic communities.” And isn’t that how it should be?

    If a student is majoring in animation, I think is it fair to assume that perhaps that student may want a job in the industry (though this is an assumption and not always the case). Making that assumption, I see nothing wrong with using licensed music because that student is perhaps making a film that will get that student a job, not get that student into a film festival. Just because you have every media at your expense doesn’t mean you should use them all. That is where one’s judgement as an artist and student plays a role. Because, while at CalArts we are artists- we are also students.

    And, Walt’s vision for CalArts, while in the promotional film a place for artists to collaborate and connect with one another, is just another promotional Disney film of the area. Sighting it as a source of “Walt’s Vision” seems almost as silly to me as Disneyland purists using public statements to sight what “Walt would have wanted.” , didn’t he really want a place to recruit and train artists for his studio.

    Like many of my peers I would encourage you, as someone who is reporting to a community, to visit CalArts so that you are capable of writing more informed articles.

  • Nathan Strum

    Fascinating film. I wish they could have built the campus as shown in those paintings. We could really use the extra space right now. Seriously. Disney… you reading this? Call us.

    We still have some of those Chouinard drawing horses seen in that film, too. Many a famous butt have sat upon them.

    Ken Bruce and Duze said pretty-much exactly what I was going to. But never being one to leave well-enough alone…

    Amid wrote: “the use of licensed music in a student film is a bush league mistake”

    Still waiting to see one of your animated films, Amid.

    Oh… right.


    You can’t presume, just judging from a handful of films that didn’t use original music, that “Walt’s dream never came to fruition”. “Never”?

    We’re always encouraging students to use original music if they can (and, of course, IF it fits the film that they want to make). I’ve heard a dramatic increase in recent years in the number of films that use original music. Some of our students even compose their own music from time to time.

    By its very nature, making an animated film is an inter-disciplinary art form. Drawing, writing, acting, directing, set design, costume design, sound design, filmmaking… all have to be learned by our students. Even within our own program the students are being exposed to far more than just animating. The opportunities for inter-disciplinary collaboration have always existed at CalArts, but it’s up to the individual students to pursue them if, and how, they choose to. But even those who don’t choose to collaborate with students from other programs, can’t help but be influenced by their presence.

    The best (but not only) example I can recall of a Character Animation student doing an interdisciplinary project happened several years ago, but there’s no reason it couldn’t happen today. The student (hi Steve) had several loops of animation that he had created of dancers in silhouette. These were loaded onto three computers, then the video was sent out to three rear-screen video projectors, arranged on three sides of a large open area. He then had a group of musicians playing live music, while students from the dance school danced in the middle of the screens. As the music changed and the dancers responded to it, he was able to mix the different clips of animation like a video DJ, to complement what the dancers were doing, who would then respond to his animation, and so on. The public was encouraged to step into the middle of the whole thing, and participate with the dancers. No two performances were ever the same. The whole thing was quite amazing, and quite unique. (Sadly, I don’t know if any footage was shot of it or not.) To me, this is the height of what is possible at CalArts, precisely because all of the disciplines are available to those who choose to avail themselves of them.

    One of the strengths of CalArts is that students can choose not only what to pursue there, but how they pursue it. Each student is unique, with their own influences, artistic visions, and personal goals. The purpose of the college is to provide a conducive environment and guidance to help them become the artists that they want to be – not what someone else wants them to be, nor to create their art the way someone else thinks they should.

  • Actually Amid, the only part of Walt’s vision of CalArts that was NOT realized was that kick ass campus in the Hollywood hills that they kept panning over.
    It is really easy to criticize students for using licensed music, but many have come forward to explain WHY and their reasons seem valid.
    In my mind, most of these kids just want to do a good film for the end of year show and have no grand designs of hitting the festival circuit.
    I can tell you from experience that many times those collaborations with the music students don’t gel. on my 3rd year film, I could not envision a strong musical statement, so I let it be totally music free.
    Some of these kids go a different way. I can’t exactly fault them for it.
    Trust me, the cross-pollinization deal among the different disciplines happens, it just might not happen in every student film.
    There was a quote in this film that stuck out though, the one about master teaching apprentice, professional teaching student, artist learning from artist. THAT quote, describes CalArts to a T.
    In that way, Walt’s vision has come to fruition in spades.

  • T. Reynolds

    How interesting, I have never seen this film.

    It’s weird to see where they planned Cal Arts to be, and where it is today. I’m looking at a Google satellite map of that area and it looks to be still an undeveloped ridgetop, with the John Anson Ford theatres down below. Do you think they planned to level the ridgetop? And holy crap, there really is a big old lake up there! I had no idea.

    There was so much to do at CalArts, I almost wish I had lived on campus. I could easily have spent another 4 years there if I wanted to pursue every interest. But it was so expensive, that I had to work while attending, live at home with my parents and commute, and got my degree in 3 years with transferable credits from SMCC.

    Maybe I should go back for my Masters’ ROFL

  • I interacted and had a freakin’ blast with the other departments. I love drawing musicians. Steve Fonti also collaborated with the music department for his film, “Political Correction”. Steve Cucuru used the dance department for his life drawing adventures. Also, Anatomy and Kinesiology is taken mainly by the animation and dance departments, for both disciplines have to be extremely knowledgeable about the moving human body. I think the crazy thing about the Cal Arts character animation department is that the curriculum is so intense that you don’t have time to make friends. Your first and fourth year are the lightest, though, so there is time to reconnect with other departments then. Use those other departments, Cal Artians!

  • calartskid

    hey amid,

    “As to my comment about Walt’s vision for CalArts not being realized, that’s not exactly a revelation. This film just makes that fact more painfully clear.”

    for a guy whose never actually visited the school, talked to the students or the faculty currently going there, writes posts based on second hand information, it seems painfully clear you don’t have a clue about what calarts is about.

    or am I wrong? Honestly, have u ever been to the school? talked to the students? the teachers?

  • amid

    calartskid: Been to the school on many occasions, I’m friends with countless students who have graduated there from the 1980s onward, and am personally friends with some of the teachers too. Feel free to keep trying to discredit me and twist this into an “Amid vs. CalArts” issue, but at the end of the day, it’s not personal for me and I harbor no ill will towards any students that go there. But if you feel your school is beyond informed criticism, unfortunately that’s an issue I can’t help you out with.

    If you don’t mind, I’m going to write some new posts while you guys argue this out amongst yourselves.

  • Hey Amid, we aren’t saying the school is above informed criticism.
    You let us know when you write some.
    We’ll be waiting.

  • calartskid

    Informed criticism? informed by whom? like say.. Dan Hansen? or Frank Terry? or Corny Cole? Nathan Strum? I would love to see you cite where you are getting this information from.. just curious

    even looking at the number of comments from actual calarts students who have posted on this post, I would get a more informed criticism from it then what you wrote on your post.

  • Though that location would have been nicer, I’m kind of glad that sterile utopian school never existed as such. But, I have to agree with all those above who think Amid is generalizing. The one thing that should be implemented is a meet and greet among artists in the different schools who are interested in collaborating. That’s one reason you don’t see enough original music or voice talents coming from theatre. In general artists were too self absorbed or shy-or lazy to spend the time making friends with other disciplines. But, it did happen and the campus was small enough and had enough activities for people to interact. Basically, those who saw the value in the possibility of collaborating reached out. So, I think it’s ignorant to think that doesn’t happen. But, the school should encourage it more-I’ll give you that. But, I think in retrospect most alumni who appreciate CalArts look back at the inter-disciplinary environment as part of the whole experience.

  • @calartskid BAWWWWWW!!!!!!!

  • Professor Widebottom

    Who and how much do I pay to have my own red box real estate in the comments section?

  • Pedro Nakama

    Now if Cal Arts Alumni can only intermingle with alumni from other schools instead of thinking they are the know all be all, the animation industry will really flourish.

  • Jed Martinez

    Did anyone catch the little ‘in-joke’ in this promotional film? In the scene involving the location of the CalArts of the future – highlighted in a big, brightened circle – and its proximity to two other cultural tourist attractions – highlighted in two smaller circles – if you turn the image upside-down, the three highlighted circles will resemble a familiar Disneyesque logo (of sorts). Whether this was intentional or coincidental will probably remain a mystery…

  • @Pedro we do intermingle. I went to for-profit grad school sometime after Cal Arts and you know what, OTHER SCHOOLS HATE US!

    Getting back to my beloved school, I so miss the Cal Arts curriculum. Other schools are probably better for social activities, but the Cal Arts curriculum continues to aid my career despite the fact that hand-drawn is a rare gig these days.

  • CalArts Student

    I have always used actors for my films and original music. There are only a certain amount of composers/actors to go around that are willing to work on student films. Its hard to find time to meet up that works for both parties. Actors at CalArts have class from 9:00 am in the mornings to 11:00 pm at night some even till 2:00 am if they’re working on a show. Life is hard at CalArts… come make a film and then talk.