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Oscar Tour 2012 Kicks Off In San Francisco

This year's Northern California tour includes Pixar, PDI/Dreamworks, Lucas Animation, The Walt Disney Family Museum and an evening with ASIFA San Francisco. Nominees on hand are Patrick Doyon and Marc Bertrand, the director and producer of Sunday/Dimanche; directors William Joyce, Brandon Oldenburg and producer Lampton Enochs of The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore; and Bonnie Thompson, the producer of Wild Life, a film by Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis. They have traveled from Shreveport, Louisiana, Montreal and Ontario Canada.

(From left to right) Carol Frank, Ron Diamond, William Joyce, Brandon Oldenburg, Patrick Doyon, Bonnie Thompson and Marc Bertrand in front of San Francisco's Marc Hopkins hotel.

By Lauren Brown

Day 1 of the Bay Area Leg of the Oscar Showcase Tour

The Bay Area Oscar nominated short film tour began this morning in the south bay. For those of you who have not been able to attend a screening event, it is a special opportunity to see the nominated films on a large screen. It is also an opportunity to spend time with the creative talent behind the films. The filmmakers visit a group of Bay Area animation studios and they are able to connect with people that share their love for animation.

This year we have on tour with us, Patrick Doyon and Marc Bertrand, the director and producer of Sunday/Dimanche; directors William Joyce, Brandon Oldenburg and producer Lampton Enochs of The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore; and Bonnie Thompson, the producer of Wild Life, a film by Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis. They have traveled from as far as Shreveport, Louisiana, Montreal and Ontario Canada. The filmmakers join Ron Diamond of ACME Filmworks and AWN on this trip.

We kicked off the tour this morning at our favorite Cupertino computer company. Unfortunately, security is understandably tight, so we can’t show anything from this particular stop.  We screened the shorts to a full house of enthusiastic employees. This was the first time ever the company screened a group of Oscar-nominated short films for their staff.   

After the screening the filmmakers fielded a number of questions. One particular question was, “What is it about Canada? They make all these great films?” Marc Bertrand of Dimanche/Sunday responded by saying that he felt like it is because of the way the National Film Board was designed. It is a national, publicly funded community and the artist is at the center of the creation. They are allowed to make great films.

(From front to back) Brandon Oldenburg, Lampton Enochs, Patrick Doyon, Marc Bertrand, Bonnie Thompson field audience questions at the first screening.

Another question that stuck out was, “What was your original inspiration for the films when you first started?” William Joyce, of The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, started out by describing a friend of his that inspired the character Morris Lessmore. He wrote the story after visiting his friend in the hospital, but the project ended up turning into something greater after hurricane Katrina. Joyce described how he visited a center where a group of displaced people stayed. The center was filled with families that had to sleep in a big room on cots and the children seemed undisturbed by their surroundings because they were engrossed in books. There was a charity that brought the books and he could see how it really benefited the children who were being forced to deal with such a tragic event.

When the Q&A was over, we had a wonderful lunch in the cafeteria, a bit overwhelmed by the amazing selection of foods to choose from. 

We ended the day by visiting the Disney Family Museum in the San Francisco Presidio district. It’s a pristine location overlooking the water and we truly had a lovely afternoon by the bay. The museum is housed within a building that was once part of the Presidio’s army barracks.  Our group was given a private, two hour tour.  The red brick museum was opened in October 2009 and spans Walt Disney’s entire life, from his humble beginning, to creating Disneyland, and ending with his death in 1966. The museum is a wonderful place filled with droves of one of a kind memorabilia and expertly curated information about the legacy of Walt Disney. The filmmakers really enjoyed their time looking around the museum.

The Walt Disney Family Museum.

The ten galleries of the museum tell the story of Walt’s life. It has a treasure trove of well documented information about Disney’s first animated experiences, including the creation of Mickey Mouse and many more of his original creations. The exhibits are extremely detailed and usually are accompanied by audio and/or video. There are original drawings from animators with detailed notes in the margins, the first Mickey Mouse bicycle and a 12 ft by 12 ft model of the original Disneyland. I was particularly impressed with the model because each part was so detail oriented and the colors were beautiful and bright. Looking down on it made me want to visit Disneyland just so I could see how much the park had changed.

Bonnie Thompson, producer of the NFB's Wild Life.

The Museum shows visitors the tremendous depth and richness of Disney’s strong and powerful imagination. His creative genius will be remembered forever. At the end of the tour there is a display with quotes about his unexpected death.  One in particular struck me, “He was a master of magic,” because the entire museum is a showcase for just how magical his life really was, how huge his impact was on the entire world.  It was a wonderful experience to visit the museum and learn about Walt’s life.

Tomorrow – PDI/DreamWorks and Lucas Animation.