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On A Desert Island With....Commercial

A survey of people related to this issue's theme of independent animation and commercials, answering, 'What ten films would you want to have with you if stranded on a desert island?

This month, we picked three animators who manage to balance their work on independent films with their commercial animation careers,and asked each of them what films would they want to have with them if stranded on a desert island. Swedish animator Jonas Odell has directed television ids for the likes of the Swedish Lottery, Locomotion and Cartoon Network. WithStig Bergqvist, he recently made an independent film called Otto whichis currently making the festival rounds (next stop Ottawa). Steve Box is a director at Aardman Animations in Bristol, England. His short film StageFright won a British Animation Award and the Children's Jury Prize at Annecy '98. Cynthia Wells recently completed a stint as a commercial director at Rhythm & Hues in Los Angeles and is now focusing solely on her second independent film, The Shadow of Doubt. Peter Reynolds is founder and creative director of the Boston-based animation studio, FableVision, which has recently produced commercials for the NBA, and WNBA. Reynolds' short film The Blue Shoe is distributed by Link Entertainment and was just picked up for a two-year run in Spike and Mike's Festival of Animation.

There are, of course, many other animators who balance independent work with commercial careers. Several of them, in fact, have already participated in AWM's Desert Island series. Visit our back issues to read top ten films as selected by Bill Plympton, Aleksandra Korejwo, Barry Purves, and Paul Vester.

Jonas Odell's Top Ten:

UBU by Geoff Dunbar. "A congenial animated version of the play by Alfred Jarry."

King Size Canary by Tex Avery. "Anything by Avery would do, but this one has its own twisted logic that makes itespecially memorable."

Going Equipped by PeterLord. "A technically brilliant treatment of a serious subject."

Anything by Oskar Fischinger.

Alice by Jan Svankmajer. "Surrealism never really worked in painting, but in animation it does."

Creature Comforts by Nick Park.

The Sound of Music by Phil Mulloy. "Totally without compromise. Disgustingly funny and politically provocative."

The Three Caballeros (Disney). "No compromise here either, a good alternative if you're not allowed to bring drugs to the island. The last half hour is the ultimate music video."

Betty Boop as Snow White (Fleischer Bros.). "Again: surrealism does work in animation, here with a little help from Cab Calloway."

Birthday by Janno Poldma.

Steve Box's Best Bets:

"I'm not sure that ten animated films would be my first choice if I was marooned on a desert island, but if it were, these films would provide me with an amazing range of emotions and keep re-proving to me the possibilities of animated filmmaking."

The Big Snit by Richard Condie. "Actually any Richard Condie film... He's a genius."

Creature Comforts by Nick Park. "It doesn't matter how many times I see this film or that I know the director. It's a modern masterpiece."

Knick Knack by John Lasseter. "Perfect use of computer animation is John Lasseter's hallmark, the right tool for the right job. Toy Story is also superb."

The Snowman (TVC). "That bit...when they take off!!"

Tom and Jerry in The Cat Concerto (MGM). "Apart from being timed to its perfection, I find it slightly surreal compared to other Tom and Jerry films."

Neighbors by Norman McLaren. "A great moral tale told with unbelievable imagination and humor."

A Christmas Carol by Richard Williams. "The feel of the animation, the design of the characters and the color scheme perfectly suit this grotesque Dickens classic. It also reminds me of my childhood."

The Clangers (any episode) by Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin. "Gentle, imaginative and surreal with the most character-full voice-over ever from Oliver Postgate."

Lucas the Ear of Corn by Bill Plympton. "I find the naiveté of the animation and the low quality of this film combined with Bill Plympton's sense of humor totally hilarious."

Alice by Jan Svankmajer. "Epic, unique and inspiring. A true master of animation."

Cynthia Wells' Wishes:

The Man Who Planted Trees by Frédéric Back.

The Mighty River by Frédéric Back.

Anything done by Richard Williams.

The Monk and The Fish by Michael Dudok De Wit

The Beatles' Yellow Submarine by George Dunning.

The Snowman (TVC).

Moonbird by John and Faith Hubley.

My Neighbor Totoro by Hayao Miyazaki.

Winsor McCay's collected works.

Caroline Leaf's films.

Peter Reynolds' Selections:


Insektors: "Pas de Kadeau pour Noel" (The Christmas Special) by Renato and George Lacroix, (Fantôme)."Inventive, whimsical, complex and delicious. I sat slack-jawed seeing this the first time at the World Animation Celebration in 1997. A rare gem."


The Point directed by Fred Wolf. "(Starring the voice of Ringo Starr and the music of Harry Nilson.) Original! Fantastic! And packed with great messages about being great at being who you truly are. A favorite at FableVision Animation Studios!"


Abel's Island by William Steig, directed by Michael Sporn. "(With the lush voices of Tim Curry and Lionel Jeffries.) Steig's un-careful and inky illustration is lovingly interpreted. A must for a desert ISLAND!! That is what the story is about!"


My Disney Faves: Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Mulan.


The Grinch Who Stole Christmas by Chuck Jones. "This one changed my life. Every bit of it is magic. Music, animation, backgrounds. Yum! Mr. Jones took a Seuss story and made it even better. THAT is a feat!"


Hayao Miyazaki's Castle in the Clouds, Kiki's Delivery Service and My Neighbor Totoro. "He is truly a master. We love him so much here at FableVision. He really defies traditional pacing, allowing scenes to float gently with no need to layer in music or action. Is it any surprise that Disney doctored the "quiet scenes" in their new release of Kiki? I think we all can learn a lot from Miyazaki's gentle storytelling that allows the essence of the story to breathe."