Friday, June 27, 2008

Another June Linkfest

Another round of netlinks for your perusal. And to start ...

A Child's Garden of Ralph: The L.A. Times reviews "Unfiltered", the life and times of Mr. Bakshi ...

Bakshi's career, which has had more ups, downs and hairpin turns than a roller coaster, is overdue for a serious examination. "Unfiltered" is not that book. Compiled by two avowed fans with heavy input from Bakshi and his family, it's a sloppily written paean ...

The success of "Fritz" and the semi-autobiographical "Heavy Traffic" (1973) was overshadowed by the furor surrounding Bakshi's third film, "Coonskin" ... Bakshi did some of his best work on the new "Mighty Mouse" television series, breathing life into the threadbare Terrytoons character. The series was done in by another scandal, this one as undeserved as it was overblown.

In an episode titled "The Littlest Tramp," which aired in October 1987, Mighty Mouse sadly sniffed up the desiccated remains of a flower that Polly Pineblossom had given him. In June 1988, Rev. Donald Wildmon of the American Family Assn. asserted that "The Littlest Tramp" showed Mighty Mouse snorting cocaine. A media kerfuffle ensued, and CBS canceled the series. Ironically, "Mighty Mouse" may well rank as Bakshi's most influential work. It boosted the career of John Kricfalusi, who went on the create "The Ren and Stimpy Show," a series that altered the course of television animation. ...

And animator Steve Gordon details a Ralph book-signing here in L.A. ...

Ralph B. and Steve G. shake on it.

Former KFP writer Dan Harmon either has no conception of how animated features have been conceived and constructed since ... oh ... 1936, or he's just angrier than most:

My hats off to anyone that can write a Dreamworks Animation film. They have a unique process.

First they storyboard the entire film. That is the first step. Not kidding. No writers, no script, just a story, and an entire film drawn on pieces of paper.

Then Katzenberg watches an animatic of the boards and says, surprisingly, "this needs a lot of work. You have a month."

Then they hire their first writer. And spend that month changing as much of the storyboards as they can, which is about 20 to 30 percent ...

So young, yet so bitter. (Welcome to Toonland, Dan'l! Actually, there's nothing unique about the process at all!)

Somehow I missed this item last week, so let's connect up with it now:

The Fox network has come on board the development of "The Animated Adventures of Bob & Doug McKenzie," a Canadian primetime cartoon for Canada's Global Television that reunites Second City TV alumni Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas.

Thomas, whose Los Angeles production shingle is Maple Palms Prods., said Monday that Fox came in on the pilot episode of a cartoon based on the SCTV characters Bob & Doug McKenzie, to be voiced by himself and Moranis.

Global Television already has ordered 13 episodes of "The Animated Adventures of Bob & Doug McKenzie" for its 2009 schedule ...

I do assume that you're the right age to remember Bob and Doug ...

Since Wall-E launches today, might as well go with another Stanton interview, and how Chaplin and Keaton influenced the character:

... WALL-E has more in common with Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton than with the ominous androids usually seen in sci-fi flicks.

"We looked at everything those guys did," says Stanton... "We watched a Chaplin film and one of Keaton's at lunch every day for almost a year until we saw their entire body of work. We walked away thinking there's almost no emotion you can't convey visually. It gave us the courage to take a risk to get it across: If those guys did it, we could too.

"Chaplin wore his heart on his sleeve. But in terms of humor, of how much you can convey with very little, we definitely pulled from Keaton's playbook," adds Stanton. "He was the Great Stone Face - his expression never changed very much, and neither does WALL-E's." ...

Meanwhile, Reuters throws a damp blanket over the little robot:

Disney-Pixar blasts off into uncharted territory with Friday's release of animated film "Wall-E," a space adventure mixing an unusual love story with sombre messages about the future of Earth and humankind ...

...[T]he sober tone and odd love-story between robots has prompted concerns that the "Wall-E" box office may not compensate for Disney's other big summer release, "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian," whose $259 million (131 million pound) box office take has lagged forecasts so far.

"Investors have been wary of 'Wall-E's' box office potential given Pixar's risky bet on an offbeat main character, who rarely speaks during the film," Pali Capital analyst Rich Greenfield said in a note to clients this week.

But Rotten Tomatoes indicates otherwise ... and the Washington Post is downright giddy:

... The critics are just beginning to weigh in on "Wall-E" -- the Village Voice's Robert Wilonsky has already called it "both breathtakingly majestic and heartbreakingly intimate" -- but the buzz surrounding the film about a lovelorn robot already is so heady, there's no doubt it will be the movie to beat for best animated film. The bigger question is whether it might become a candidate for a best picture slot ...

Variety profiles a resurgent Czech animation industry. (I didn't know it had surged in the first place, but I don't get out of the house much ...)

... [A]nimation Czech-style is undergoing a renaissance, with at least 10 features slated to bow throughout the next year.

The wave has generated so much attention that the Czech Film Center's PR material, called "Upcoming Czech Features," has added "and animated films" to the title.

"Czech filmmakers were always ready to take off in terms of creativity and stories, but were held back by a lack of sufficient funding," says the center's Jana Cernikova. But with the Czech Film Fund now granting $18.5 million in support, four times the level from just two years ago, filmmakers are finally free to delve into more expensive genres such as animation ...

Finally, on the lowly web, there seems to be various animated products being built:

AniBoom.com, an Internet home for animators to create and share their work, has raised an additional $10 million in funding led by venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson ...

AniBoom is producing 20 animated short web series and will begin launching them to the public in July. Founded in 2006, the company has begun to see signs of competition from major media players who are taking notice of the market's potential.

Last month, News Corp's Fox said it would launch an incubation venture for new animation talent, while reality show producer Mark Burnett signed a deal with the Liquid Generation site to develop cartoon comedies for television.

Have yourself a jolly weekend.

18 comments:

Larry Levine said...

As a kid one of my favorite cartoons was Bakshi's The Mighty Heroes, wish it would see new light on DVD.

I thought The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse was an instant classic. In this era of Family Guy I can't imagine the flower 'controversy' would even happen today.

Racattack Force said...

Looks like Wall*E is getting a lot of praise, which means I have to see the movie sometime this or next week.

Anonymous said...

Just talking movies with family, friends, and acquaintances, I have NEVER heard as much enthusiasm as I have heard for Wall-E, most of it unprompted.

DanO said...

"Former KFP writer Dan Harmon either has no conception of how animated features have been conceived and constructed since ... oh ... 1936, or he's just angrier than most:"

The experience Dan relates have NOTHING to do with the inherent process of animated films, it has to do with a fundamentally flawed and asinine story being thrown into storyboard and then rethoght after the fact. Most studios of the past and present implement a somewhat passable story arc with compelling character development before setting a team of talented artists upon it to grind out hours of work. Criticizing a studio for rethinking the PREMISE of their movie after artists have slaved away at it, is not criticizing the animation process. You have to be one seriously touchy(or idiotic) person to have a knee jerk reaction to any criticism of the process at big studios.

Why don't you actually READ Dan's post instead of taking the inflamatory Cartoon Brew Headline at face value and then skimming through some cherry picked quotes.

I've actually worked with Dan and he's absolutely one hundred percent one of the good guys. He rolls up his sleeves and invests just as much hours as everyone else on a crew with no ego and no "anger" that you have wrongly attached to him. I'm not defending him because he's my "buddy" or because he paid me, I'm defending him because I've worked in the industry for over ten years on both coasts and I've never met someone like him who is as honest as he is brilliant.

His take on the process at Dreamworks, the problems with the story of Kung Fu Panda and the "emperor's new clothes" experiences with Katzenberg are the most revealing things written about whats wrong with the industry that anyone has ever had the guts to retell.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, he's so brilliant that he's just blacklisted himself with no help from anyone else. Even paople that don't like Jeffrey won't hire him now on the offhand chance that he'll get another urge to publicly bite the hand that feeds him.
And as a 10 year vet as you claim I can't beleive you've never seen these exact things happen before. I doubt it would take much time to discover it's more the norm then not. I'm not saying it's the best way, but it sure is not at all unusual - even going back to the early days of Walt.

DanO said...

"Yeah, he's so brilliant that he's just blacklisted himself with no help from anyone else."

thats a very astute observation that you could only have come to by repeating what he himself stated in a later post. Whats your point- that you value cowardice?


"And as a 10 year vet as you claim..."

Yes... its a "claim" of mine. What are you claiming Mr Anonymous Poster. I don't even know if you are in the industry or if you are a 12 year old boy. I have my suspicions though...

Anonymous said...

I guess stupidity runs in groups. For all you know the person you just insulted might be the person you're already working for or seekinging your next job from. You might want to consider posting anonymously yourself before you decide to insult someone you don't know.

So not publicly denouncing the person who helped you make a good living and that made you part of a hit film is considered cowardice? My, how the business world has changed.
I'm curious if your good buddy will now tell people he had nothing to do with KFP being a successful film or will he use it's success to help him get his next job?

DanO said...

"You might want to consider posting anonymously yourself before you decide to insult "
- I never insulted anyone. At all.

"So not publicly denouncing the person who helped you make a good living and that made you part of a hit film is considered cowardice?"
-No, I didn't convict everyone in the industry of being a coward. You've delved into a simplistic, binary, reaction with your response. I lauded an individual for being honest - no matter what their opinion. A very simple premise to grasp.

"I'm curious if your good buddy"
He's not even my "good buddy per se, If you reread my first post, you'll see that I state that in plain english.

"I'm curious if your good buddy will now tell people he had nothing to do with KFP being a successful film or will he use it's success to help him get his next job?"

I can solve your curiosity problem for you. Go and READ THE POST that we are talking about. That way, you won't be commenting from a a completely ignorant standpoint. Dan states in the first sentence of his post:

"I'm sure nothing I contributed ended up in there. We wrote a bunch of scenes they kept not using because we were changing too much."


So listen Mr Anonymous, I have to get back to work, but I wish you well with your reading comprehension skills. If you stick with it, the next time you post in here, people will actually be interested in what you say, because you'll have read and retained all of the facts. All the best. :D

Steve Hulett said...

The experience Dan relates have NOTHING to do with the inherent process of animated films ...

Uh, Dan? Read the following closely:

First they storyboard the entire film. That is the first step. Not kidding. No writers, no script, just a story, and an entire film drawn on pieces of paper.

Maybe I'm extra dense, but the third sentence of the paragraph is telling. Not kidding. As in, "I'm not shitting you about this.". As in, "I find this freaking unbelievable."

Now, I get where you're coming from with the rest of the post, and I'm not arguing that there aren't salient points made in it, because there are.

But the paragraph above kind of gives the game away. Mr. Harmon is amazed that an animated feature could possibly be boarded before being scripted. (Even though it was done that way for years.)

How could you interpret it any other way?

One other thing. For Harmon to say there are "no writers" is ignorant. Every talented storyboard artist I've ever worked with or known is ... drum roll ... also a terrific writer.

So the "no writers" crack is misinformed on its face.

What else you want to argue about?

Steve Hulett said...

Dan, to beat this horse a little harder, you say ...

The experience Dan relates have NOTHING to do with the inherent process of animated films ...

....commenting on Mr. Harmon saying:

First they storyboard the entire film. That is the first step. Not kidding. No writers, no script, just a story, and an entire film drawn on pieces of paper.

Isn't Mr. Harmon describing the inherent process of making an animated film? At least, you know, the early part of it?

Couldn't we logically deduce that this has something to do with the process?

What am I missing here?

DanO said...

Steve, I didn't come in here to argue, just to defend someone whom I have personal experience with, and which you do not. Apparently defending him is enough for you to belabor and exaggerate one section of a large post and expound in your righteous indignation at its connotations. Dan was surprised at the process, but more than that - he was surprised at the process that FAILED continuously over a long period and that that process took precedence over a hired writer to fix things. You realize they did hire a writer to come in and fix the story many different times. They didn't hire more storyboard artists.
I'm a storyboard artist, but I can at least acknowledge that it is understandable for a writer to be denied a script to work on. I'm a storyboard artist myself but I'm very cognizant of the fact that for every brilliant animated movie that was boarded without a script there's one...drumroll... that had a script. There's no iron clad rules of how a successful animated movie is to be made. He's entiteld to that opinion and that opinion - a flippant comment that he was frustrated by a movie without a script - is one TINY part of a larger post with many different takes on what went wrong with a production. A production where a lot of people were fired mind you.

Maybe, just maybe you could have culled a little more out of what he wrote than "this guy's angry". Perhaps you could have formed an opinion on his eloquently written post, but no. You did exactly what Amid at Cartoon Brew did in immediately trying slam someone who you deem beyond reproach for one not being part of the club.

I'm an artist and not a writer and I've had more than my fair share of scripts that I've had to fix, but I haven't yet built up a fortress of sensitivity around my craft that a writer's take is wholly dismissed because he dared to question a flawed production.

The fact of the matter is by all accounts he's right. They should have had a script from the beginning because there were giant holes in the story.

And btw, I don't want to argue with you. You might be game, but I'm not the head of a union. I've cost myself a lot of time typing in here already. You've won. You've taunted me out of here.

Anonymous said...

Ok, let's see a show of hands...is Dan as "brave as Harmon" or as "stupid as Harmon"...?

....hmmmm, I'm leaning towards what that earlier anonymous poster wrote that he thinks he didn't insult by calling him 1a 12 year old or had poor reading skills, etc.

BTW I'd love to hear about all the brilliant animated films that he's worked on that came exclusively from brriliant scripts that didn't need the help of story artists that weren't writers....

Anonymous said...

ouch. seems like dan h. decided to jump ship on the wrong flick. oh well. happens to the best of us, writer or artist. never know which way the wind's going to blow. financially speaking.

we're all just making hollywood movies here, and at least getting paid to make up shit. sometimes we forget and let the venom spew forth. you can't get more hollywood than a jeffrey movie.

and you can't blame the dan's of the world for having the courage to spit at the beast. jeffrey knows it isn't personal. on some level....one would hope.

Steve Hulett said...

There's no iron clad rules of how a successful animated movie is to be made. He's entiteld to that opinion and that opinion - a flippant comment that he was frustrated by a movie without a script

Agree with you totally. No iron clad rules. And sorry you took offense at my snark toward Dan H.'s snark. That's the way it goes.

I don't spend hours doing close analytical studies of various bits of linked prose. And I don't spend gobs of time honing the flippancies I wrap around the links.

But I know pretty well the frustrations Mr. Harmon has gone through, as I went through them myself two decades ago, and with many of the same players.

And I still think he's wrong in the paragraph cited, as I think he's right in some of his other points.

You'll hear no more from me.

Anonymous said...

No animated feature I've worked on hired a WRITER to "fix" things. Only to punch up dialogue here and there. 99% of the story and characters and plot come from the stoyboarding process. It's ALWAYS "fixed" by the board artists.

ESPECIALLY if they have started with a script by a "writer" with no actual film production experience lik harmon.

Anonymous said...

But Harmon IS brilliant and a genius!!!

ANyone who looks at his resume can tell that hge's the 'go to' guy for a major feature film. His resume screams storytelling experience.


Looks to me like he was probably hired to help punch up gags and dialogue and even that was probably offered to him becuase he was friends with someone.

He doesn't have to worry about being blacklisted from feature animation because it doesn't look like he was ever in that part of the industry.

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight; you are attacking Dan Harmon because he was insulting to a studio head who repeatedly hired writers to retool the work of storyboard artists.
You must just be IN LOVE with the status quo. And for that, I'll leave you to drown your own retarded logic.

Anonymous said...

wow...you must never have worked on a feature if you think any of his statements were anything but insulting to all the artiists working on the KFP

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