Mike Thurmeier (center) catches up with Tamas Liszkas (left) and Maestro's Geza Toth at the DreamWorks brunch. © AWN Inc.
With the screenings now complete, Saturday — the day before the big event — was filled with parties to celebrate the nominees. Both the DreamWorks brunch at Campanile and the Chocolate Foscas were chances for the nominees to reconnect and meet other animation pros.
Mike Thurmeier poses for a pic with Over the Hedge helmer Tim Johnson. © AWN Inc.
It was nice to see Mike Thurmeier again and meet his younger brother Tim, who is a recent film school grad. Mike wanted me to show him where the others were at Campanile so that he could saw hi to everyone. Mike and Torill then shared pictures of their kids. Mike later chatted with Over the Hedge director Tim Johnson about working with actors. Tim shared a story about working with Gene Hackman, who told Tim that working on Antz was like the way he thought acting would be when he first started.
At the DreamWorks brunch, I had a great talk with Bee Movie director Steve Hickner (right). © AWN Inc.
I had an opportunity to chat with Bee Movie director Steve Hickner. He told me that working with Jerry Seinfeld has been a great pleasure and that it’s a project he is not looking forward to ending. His favorite animated feature of the year was Monster House, saying that he was impressed with how the kids acted like real young teens. He added that at first he was unsure why the film was animated, but felt the fantastic moments with the house at the end would have stretched the film’s believability too much if it were live-action.
Marilyn Zornado and Libby Simon introduce the Chocolate Foscas. © AWN Inc.
The brunch was also great chance for the nominees to relax a bit before the big day on Sunday. This was the same with 17th annual Chocolate Fosca party, which was hosted by Marilyn Zornado and Libby Simon at the home of Renate Kempowski and Paul Demeyer. The annual event was originally started by Mike Gribble, the co-founder of the Spike & Mike festival, as a way to celebrate the animated shorts nominees within the community. Originally called the Chocolate Oscars, the event was renamed after Fosca, a character from Marv Newland’s Anijam, after the Academy objected to the creation of chocolate Oscars.
Again the event allowed time for various members of the animation community to meet with the nominees. Don Hahn chatted with ASIFA-Hollywood president Antran Manoogian about how great the Animation Archive was. Don recently received some original Mary Blair paintings, which he says he doesn’t own, but will look over them for the rest of his life. It was nice to introduce Cartoon Network’s senior director of development Heather Kenyon to The Danish Poet producer Lise Fearnley, who also works at the Norwegian Broadcasting Company, because Heather is always introducing me to people.
Frank Gladstone tells a joke to Mike and Tim Thurmeier. © AWN Inc.
The wonderful laid-back and fun vibe of the party was the perfect ending to a crazy week and a half. It was a party where people could chat about anything animation related or not. Frank Gladstone told his latest and greatest joke to Mike Thurmeier and Chris Renaud. Maestro rep Tamas Liszkas told me that he had a dream about the Oscars and Mike and Chris won. I talked with host Paul Demeyer about real estate. During the course of the night, I met all the staff from the upcoming Platform Animation Festival and there might be a panel in my future. The nominees all got a chance to add to the guest book as well as a huge banner that’s been a part of the Chocolate Foscas for years.
Roger and Don couldn't have given a better Foscas speech if they had planned it. © AWN Inc.
In celebration of all the nominees, Marilyn and Libby officially presented the heavy, dark chocolate Foscas to the filmmakers. All the nominees and their fellow filmmakers thanked everyone for the honor. Roger Allers joked that it was the “sweetest award.” Don Hahn countered with saying, but it’s “bittersweet” that it’s all coming to an end. Allers added, “Well, let’s not get syrupy” and Don finished with “Okay this is going to a dark place.”
For me, when it was time to leave, it was like saying good-bye after a week at camp. It’s been a busy time, but thoroughly rewarding. I found it inspiring to be around such talented people. And it seemed to me that the feeling was the same for all the nominees. I really think the best way to sum up the feeling of the final day before the Oscars is to share some photos. It was a fun, unforgettable experience that I will never forget.
The No Time for Nuts filmmakers and their family pose for a pic. © AWN Inc.
Torill lies her head on the shoulder of her husband Kevin, who composed the music for The Danish Poet. © AWN Inc.
DreamWorks' John Tarnoff poses with his wife at the DreamWorks brunch. © AWN Inc.
Torill (left) chats with Bee Movie animator Simon Otto and Shrek the Third story artist Gabriele Pennacchioli. © AWN Inc.
Geza Toth (l to r), Chris Renaud and Marcy Page grab some food at the Chocolate Foscas. © AWN Inc.
Guests chat over dinner at the Chocolate Foscas. © AWN Inc.
Marcy Page, indie animator Christine Panushka, Anima Mundi director Léa Zagury & Cartoon Network's Heather Kenyon. © AWN Inc.
Mikrofilm's Kajsa Naess and Lise Fearnley chat with Hey Arnold! creator Craig Bartlett. © AWN Inc.
Roger, Don, Geza and Geza's wife share a laugh. © AWN Inc.
Lise, Skunk Fu producer Paul Young and Marcy pose for a snapshot at the Chocolate Foscas. © AWN Inc.
Danish Poet's Marcy Page, sound designer Hakan Lammetun and Lise Fearnley accept their chocolate Foscas. © AWN Inc.
Maestro director Geza Toth (l to r), composer Attila Pacsay and rep Tamas Liszkas admire their Chocolate Foscas. © AWN Inc.
No Time for Nuts' Chris Renaud and Mike Thurmeier can't think of any more chocolate puns to use in accepting their Foscas. © AWN Inc.
Chris Renaud adds Scrat to the Chocolate Foscas' banner. © AWN Inc.
Every party has to have cake! © AWN Inc.