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I Have a Question David Fine

In which Chris Robinson asks animators profound and inane questions that have little to do with animation. This week's guest is Canadian animator and loyal fan of a hockey tragedy called the Toronto Maple Leafs, David Fine (Bob's Birthday, George and Rosemary).

'George and Rosemary' by Alison Snowden and David Fine

David Fine and Alison Snowden are the acclaimed duo behind the animated shorts, George and Rosemary (1987) and Bob’s Birthday (1994). They also created the TV shows, Bob and Margaret and Ricky Sprocket. After numerous refusals to meet, Fine finally agreed to meet me on May 2 in the produce section of a grocery store directly across from the former Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. I reluctantly agreed and wore Montreal Canadiens skivvies as protection against whatever evils might greet me.

I get the greatest pleasure from....

My wife and daughter.  I am so lucky to have this very small but wonderful immediate family who make me laugh, give me support when I need it and make everything else on earth seem less important to me than my two girls.

Having said that, I get pretty excited about hockey too.  And Indian food.

If I could have – assuming this is your real name – a nom de plume, what would it be?

I can’t see any reason for hiding who I am, unless I was up to no good, but I’m not, so I would not have a nom de plume, despite the attraction of the hoity toity French term for ‘fake name’.

The sport I do or would like to play is...

Hockey is in my blood.  I grew up with it, I am passionate about it.  I follow my hapless Toronto Maple Leafs (but things are looking up!).  I get chills when I watch Team Canada win.  I cried when Bobby Orr had his number retired and still can’t stop wondering what might have been if they had orthoscopic surgery when he played. I still play twice a week at the ripe old age of 56, presently on the team I helped found and designed their logo, The Robots!

Second place would be badminton, of all things, because I used to play every weekend with my wife and animation pals in London and then go to the pub and eat Indian food after.  It was a ritual which I looked forward to all week and since it involved Indian food and a pint, it’s up there just after hockey.

A (non-family member) person I idolize is....

I went to film school with Nick Park and when we first met, I knew he was really clever and funny, but also so very shy and unassuming.  I love that a soft spoken, lovely person like Nick could become one of the greatest animators ever.  So talented, so deserving of every accolade.  A true creative genius and I am so proud to call him one of my best friends.

The song that makes me tingle is....

How can it be just one song?  It can’t.  Here are a few:

“Kentucky Avenue” by Tom Waits.  Just try to listen to that without smiling and then welling up.  I dare you.

“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” performed live by Prince in front of George Harrison’s son.  Very moving and powerful performance.  Just watched it on Youtube again and it still makes me tingle:

“Jeannie’s Diary” by Eels.  Such an elegant and original way to describe longing.  I love Eels.

“Perfect Day” performed in 1997 by a bevy of artists in support of the BBC.  Wonderful rendering of the Lou Reed song, which includes Lou in it.  Beautifully filmed video and the list of artists in it is incredible:   

“This Old House” by Matt Epp.  Who?  Matt Epp!  Check it out.  I first heard the song performed live at the Vancouver Folk Fest and it did give me chills.  Just such a pure song about love played subtly and emotionally.

“What’s So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding” by Elvis Costello.  A rousing, brilliant song.  Yeah, Nick Lowe wrote it, but no one sings it like EC.  It’s nerdy power pop.

The funniest thing that happened to me….

Our house was robbed years ago in Montreal by the most inept burglars ever.  They smashed a window and cut themselves and bled all over the house.  They stole a camera which was in a bag with a luggage tag on it with my name and number on it and sold it to a pawn shop who promptly called me to report they had my stolen camera.  Police showed up and were so pathetic and uninterested in the fact that they had a positive ID from the pawn shop and DNA all over the floor in the form of blood.  Feigning interest, one of the cops said he would take some blood for analysis.  He looked in a garbage can for an envelope, took a knife from the sink which had egg on it, scraped some blood into the envelope, folded it into his pocket and assured me he would “get that to the lab right away”. 

These burglars and cops inspired the pilot episode of Bob and Margaret, which was only a slight exaggeration of what really happened.

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A well-known figure in the world of independent animation, writer, author & curator Chris Robinson is the Artistic Director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival.