The Masters Of Animation: An Unprecedented Opportunity
The Old Guard
The wide-ranging roster of attending animators might be grouped into a few major categories. The Old Guard included Disney veteran Marc Davis, layout artist Maurice Noble, and stop-motion wizard Ray Harryhausen; all gracious, entertaining, and unanimous in their dislike of most commercial animation being done today. Davis kicked off the festival, showing some of his work and narrating slides of his designs for Disneyland attractions, including "Pirates of The Caribbean" and "The Haunted Mansion." Maurice Noble filled in for an ailing Chuck Jones at the last minute. Since the screenings were already set, Noble ad-libbed his way through Jones' work, some of which he had not worked on. In the end, he completely charmed the audience, and his off-the-cuff presentation led him to some offbeat topics that probably would not have been otherwise covered.
As a long line formed for Ray Harryhausen's program, a pleasant sight was Harryhausen and Henry Selick chatting in the lobby. It was the kind of sight that proved to be common throughout the weekend. There's no doubt that the animators enjoyed sitting in on each other's programs as much as the fans did. As Marv Newland put it, they all had a great time hanging with each other and just "making the scene." The fans were by no means kept at arms length, either. One attendee, whose experience was not unique, related how he struck up a conversation with Harryhausen when he found himself seated next to him in the audience of another animator's event. When Harryhausen's screening of Jason and The Argonauts ran long, he graciously took questions in the lobby afterwards. This was in contrast to Marc Davis, whose corporate handlers hustled him out of the museum like a rock star.
In contrast to the old-timers were the younger, and employed, animators, such as David Silverman and Hey Arnold's Craig Bartlett. These guys are young, successful, confident, enthusiastic, and irreverent. Silverman fairly crackles with intensity and wit, while Bartlett radiates upbeat energy. Both had great fun goofing on the "Masters of Animation" theme, suggesting that others bow to them and respond, "Yes, Master." Despite the banter, though, they exhibited a sincere awe of the aforementioned Old Guard. Mark Gustafson screened Mr. Resistor and Bride of Resistor, with engaging stories of life at Will Vinton Studios. Devo co-founder Mark Mothersbaugh presented his musical scores and jingles for animated shows, while Stephen Holman screened his hard-to-describe hybrid Life With Loopy segments.
The Old Guard
The Independent Presence
The Independents included Bruce Bickford, Jim Blashfield, Rose Bond, Janice Findlay, Joan Gratz, Ruth Hayes, Marv Newland, and Bill Plympton. All are doing, or have done, interesting personal films, with Blashfield, Newland and Plympton being the most commercially successful. Bill Plympton is as tireless as usual, screening Mondo Plympton and working on yet another one-man feature, although this time he's using traditional cel techniques to increase his production speed. Also in this category, but somewhat distinct, are the Brits David Anderson and Barry Purves. Both have created some terrifically impressive shorts, especially Purves' Achilles- a stop-motion tour de force with a decidedly un-commercial homosexual theme. Poor Barry had the misfortune to be scheduled at 8 PM on Friday opposite the Fourth of July fireworks, so his program drew (it must be said) an embarrassingly small crowd. Nonetheless, the jet-lagged animator screened some beautiful works, and thoroughly engaged the audience with his passion for the art form.
The Independent Presence