A Chat With Don Bluth And Gary Goldman (Part I)

by Larry Lauria

Don Bluth. © 2000 Twentieth Century Fox.

I first met Don Bluth on May 1, 1981, at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. He was giving a presentation at the American Film Institute about his latest picture Secret of NIMH.Don had just returned from the United Kingdom where the London Philharmonic had recorded music for the film. What Don showed that day was little more than a progression reel with some scenes in color, some in pencil test and still others in storyboard form. During his talk he referred to some of the up and coming young animators as "hot shots from Art Center." Having graduated from Art Center only a couple of years before, I took the opportunity to introduce myself as "one of those hotshots..." We exchanged pleasantries and he was gone.

Gary Goldman. © 2000 Twentieth Century Fox.

Fast forward to circa 1989. I was president of Washington, DC's ASIFA chapter, and we happened to be hosting Don Bluth at a local animation gallery. It was a great night. About 300 people showed up to view and buy artwork from his films and have their pictures snapped with Don. I was one of them!

Fast forward again to 1991 -- Dublin, Ireland. At that time, the Sullivan/Bluth Studios were supporting the classical animation program at Senior College, Ballyfermot. I had just come on board as Coordinator/Animation Instructor for the course. My first official meeting was with Don Bluth and Gary Goldman; and Gary, as things turned out, was our program/studio liaison throughout my entire 4 years with the college...and a good time was had by all!

As I glance back over the years, I like to think that Don and Gary began what I term their "great experiment" when they chose to leave Disney Feature. They have continued to create "outside the system." To date, they have directed 12 animated feature films -- far more than any other animation team.

Recently, we had a chat about their upcoming feature film from Fox Feature Animation, Titan, A.E.,which will be released June 16th...

Gelatinous villains seek out fresh prey. © 2000 Twentieth Century Fox.

Larry Lauria: Gary, can you tell me about the "look" of Titan, A.E.?

Gary Goldman: The look is similar to a graphic novel or dark comic book. The opening is softer pastel colors, almost pastoral. The computer graphic imagery [CGI] and animation are some of our best, ever. The CGI work is in about 80% of the 3-D backgrounds, spaceships and the villains. The villains have a gelatin or glass-filled look.

LL: As compared with other Don Bluth/Gary Goldman films -- what would you say is different, visually, about Titan...other than the computer work and the pallets?

An intimate moment occurs in the blue shadows of night. © 2000 Twentieth Century Fox.

GG: Our style. It’s probably darker with a lot more dark silhouettes used in the backgrounds. All of the detail is's just a different look. The animation is comparable to Anastasia because the characters are human. We use a lot of live-action reference. And there are aliens -- some have live-action reference, some don't. You won't be able to tell -- it looks so good. We didn't use a lot of holds in the animation. It's a very fast-paced film. We have a key group of animators who are very good. The film is 91 minutes long plus 8 minutes of credits. I'm real pleased with it -- especially with the pacing of it. And I'm pleased with the audience test results. The fact is, it was made for young adults -- a young male audience, specifically. But the recent test screenings showed the appreciation levels were as high for females as for males in the young adult group. I'm not sure what to attribute that to other than some edits and some relationships within the story.

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