Language of the Soul Podcast

CTN Expo Part 2: Disney Artist Ed Ghertner and Animation Artist Vicho Friedli

November 27, 2023 Dominick Domingo Season 2023 Episode 10
CTN Expo Part 2: Disney Artist Ed Ghertner and Animation Artist Vicho Friedli
Language of the Soul Podcast
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Language of the Soul Podcast
CTN Expo Part 2: Disney Artist Ed Ghertner and Animation Artist Vicho Friedli
Nov 27, 2023 Season 2023 Episode 10
Dominick Domingo

Unlock the secrets of working in the thrilling world of animation in this enlightening conversation with our special guests, Vicho Friedli, a skilled layout artist from Chile, and Disney legend Ed Ghertner. Hear first-hand accounts from Vicho on how he navigated from an online animation school to a thriving career in the industry, and glean invaluable wisdom from Ed's 35 years at Disney. As a bonus, they’ll take you behind the scenes of CTN Expo, offering nuggets of wisdom from their unique experiences.

Our deep dive doesn't stop there. We draw back the curtain on the dramatic changes that unfolded in Disney's feature animation department during the production of the iconic film, Beauty and the Beast. We delve into the vital role of layout and cinematics as storytelling tools and the impact of technological innovations like AI on the animation industry. We grapple with the potential and limitations of AI in animation and examine the balance between artistic integrity and  rapid technological advancement. 

We cap off our animated discussion by exploring the delicate dance between art and commerce. We candidly discuss  cut-throat competition between studios in the animation industry, the evolution of Hollywood's business model, and the societal need for meaningful storytelling. Whether you're a seasoned animation artist or an aspiring one, you'll appreciate these insightful perspectives. 

We would love to hear from you! Sent US a text message.

Support the Show.

If you would like to make a one-time donation, CLICK HERE, or you can click the support button for other monthly support options.

To learn more and order Language of the Soul: www.dominickdomingo.com/theseeker

Think you would be a great guest for our podcast; please submit a request at LOTS Podcast Guest Pitch Form.

Now more than ever, it’s tempting to throw our hands in the air and surrender to futility in the face of global strife. Storytellers know we must renew hope daily. We are being called upon to embrace our interconnectivity, transform paradigms, and trust the ripple effect will play its part. In the words of Lion King producer Don Hahn (Episode 8), “Telling stories is one of the most important professions out there right now.” We here at Language of the Soul Podcast could not agree more.

This podcast is a labor of love. You can help us spread the word about the power of story to transform. Your donation, however big or small, will help us build our platform and thereby get the word out. Together, we can change the world…one heart at a time!

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Unlock the secrets of working in the thrilling world of animation in this enlightening conversation with our special guests, Vicho Friedli, a skilled layout artist from Chile, and Disney legend Ed Ghertner. Hear first-hand accounts from Vicho on how he navigated from an online animation school to a thriving career in the industry, and glean invaluable wisdom from Ed's 35 years at Disney. As a bonus, they’ll take you behind the scenes of CTN Expo, offering nuggets of wisdom from their unique experiences.

Our deep dive doesn't stop there. We draw back the curtain on the dramatic changes that unfolded in Disney's feature animation department during the production of the iconic film, Beauty and the Beast. We delve into the vital role of layout and cinematics as storytelling tools and the impact of technological innovations like AI on the animation industry. We grapple with the potential and limitations of AI in animation and examine the balance between artistic integrity and  rapid technological advancement. 

We cap off our animated discussion by exploring the delicate dance between art and commerce. We candidly discuss  cut-throat competition between studios in the animation industry, the evolution of Hollywood's business model, and the societal need for meaningful storytelling. Whether you're a seasoned animation artist or an aspiring one, you'll appreciate these insightful perspectives. 

We would love to hear from you! Sent US a text message.

Support the Show.

If you would like to make a one-time donation, CLICK HERE, or you can click the support button for other monthly support options.

To learn more and order Language of the Soul: www.dominickdomingo.com/theseeker

Think you would be a great guest for our podcast; please submit a request at LOTS Podcast Guest Pitch Form.

Now more than ever, it’s tempting to throw our hands in the air and surrender to futility in the face of global strife. Storytellers know we must renew hope daily. We are being called upon to embrace our interconnectivity, transform paradigms, and trust the ripple effect will play its part. In the words of Lion King producer Don Hahn (Episode 8), “Telling stories is one of the most important professions out there right now.” We here at Language of the Soul Podcast could not agree more.

This podcast is a labor of love. You can help us spread the word about the power of story to transform. Your donation, however big or small, will help us build our platform and thereby get the word out. Together, we can change the world…one heart at a time!

Speaker 1:

Alright. So day two of the convention was also a gold mine. We got some really great sound bites and actually some quite lengthy interviews. So this episode is going to consist of two interviews. One I will be with an artist that I know from Chile called Vicho Friedli I can't quite say the last name, it sounds German to me, so I say Friedli, he'll say it, you'll hear it. Anyway, I just wanted to get his perspective as somebody who came several thousand miles for both lightbox, which is a competing convention, and CTN. They happen to be neck and neck every year. So yeah, it'll be really interesting to hear about his expectations and his experience here at CTN. The second interview is with a colleague of mine named Ed Gertner, with whom I worked for 11 years and, believe it or not, he was with Disney for 35 years. So he's got some great stuff.

Speaker 1:

I will give you a word of warning the ambient noise in the lobby was pretty distracting and I didn't quite notice until I listened back. So unfortunately we couldn't really filter out much of the ambient noise. But it's worth grating your teeth and burying it if you can hang in there and hear what Ed has to say and Vicho for that matter. So please forgive the ambient noise. And also another disclaimer my assistant Shanti, whom you heard from in the last episode, I often, if Ed says something out of context, I noticed in listening back. I turned to her and say, by the way, that memo we're discussing about the Great Mouse Detective, here's the backstory. But that's also for you, the listener, just so that it's not distracting. That's often what's happening.

Speaker 1:

Okay, enough prefacing, please enjoy the two interviews that we captured day two, friday, of CTN Expo. So here we are at CTN. We've gotten interviews with my colleagues, professionals, but also aspiring artists and students that come, as you know, from the world over to this event. So you're somebody who's currently working in the field. You're a professional artist. Why did you? I can guess, but you know why do working professionals come to CTN? What did you hope to accomplish?

Speaker 2:

Well, mostly for networking and to meet people that work in movies and projects I really liked, like Hunchback of Notre Dame, for example or Aaron Blaise will watch it.

Speaker 1:

We took you away from that. I'm so sorry, but to learn and to be inspired, but also meet people you admire Exactly. Yeah, to your fan as well. Yes, okay, I haven't even said your name yet, so we're going to back up a little bit and I might pronounce it wrong, but Vico Frott.

Speaker 2:

Vicho, vicho.

Speaker 1:

Vicho. Vicho Friedli Would never have guessed. Friedli Friedli. Yes, Is that German.

Speaker 2:

It's Swiss.

Speaker 1:

And you are working professional and you are a layout artist and you're here to enjoy yourself. And network and meet people. What have you done so far at CTN?

Speaker 2:

Well, meeting you. Woohoo, that's a highlight. No, please. I went to the Mushka screening yesterday. I met a lot of fellow animation mentor students.

Speaker 1:

Is that an online school animation?

Speaker 2:

mentor. It's an online animation school.

Speaker 1:

And have you taken classes through that program or how did you meet the mentor?

Speaker 2:

I graduated in 2015,. That's why I came here in 2015 for the graduation.

Speaker 1:

Is that your only schooling Is?

Speaker 2:

that animation. Mentor For animation yeah.

Speaker 1:

That speaks well of the program. Yeah, it really is I mean there's a lot of online schools right now taking people's money, but it doesn't necessarily result in an industry job. Everybody's learning, the schools are getting better and better all the time, but I love that it resulted in a job. How long was the program?

Speaker 2:

It's like a year and a half. I think it was six, three masters.

Speaker 1:

And you did it straight through. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

I did it straight through.

Speaker 1:

And you get a certificate at the end of it.

Speaker 2:

A diploma, diploma. It's not like a degree or anything. It's not accredited.

Speaker 1:

Exactly? Do they have a placement program or they work with you to place you?

Speaker 2:

They mostly post on Facebook when there are studios looking for maybe I don't know specifically people from animation mentors, but other than that, it's just like they throw you to the world.

Speaker 1:

Well, that's one of my opinions is there's again a lot of our schools taking people's money but there's no real pathway into the industry, so people are left to their own devices and kind of floundering. I think the thing about Art Center that I loved is we have a career counseling department and a career placement program and we have relationships with the studios and try to get people to land because it serves the school, it serves the reputation of the school. But I did teach the portfolio class there for six years and so you know I have 20 years of students that I kind of see where they land. Do they land at Disney, dreamworks, pdi, pixar, or do they end up doing something else for a living and this becomes their hobby or their avocation?

Speaker 1:

It's all good, but I've seen it all. But I used to tell them in the portfolio class the legitimate job postings, especially the union job postings, will appear in AWN Animation World Network and then, if you can get the union emails, are you union by chance? No, but there was like three places. Linkedin was really low on the list, but now LinkedIn is posting all the legitimate jobs that AWN posts and the union. But it's hard, isn't it?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's really hard, especially when you're not from the country.

Speaker 1:

I mean, is there a lot of animation happening in Chile?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's. Every year it's more and more.

Speaker 1:

Feature and television, both.

Speaker 2:

No, not a lot of features I can't think of any feature, in fact, that has come out lately but a lot of TV shows and things like that. Commercials also a lot.

Speaker 1:

And are there production studios in Chile? You know how sometimes a production studio, they'll be farmed out sequences from a major studio. Yeah, so you have production facilities in Chile.

Speaker 2:

In fact, the studio I work for is a Chilean studio that got bought by Pipeline Studios. It's a Canadians. It was all air-messing so.

Speaker 1:

But wasn't it Nickelodeon at one point, the whole property Dora the Explorer.

Speaker 4:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

I wonder if that Canadian company do they work for Nickelodeon, or is it now TV to no longer Nickelodeon?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, they work for Nickelodeon.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's so interesting. You know partnering of studios and yeah, so much of it does get farmed out.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's very interesting how the pandemic helped a lot with that. Yeah, I work remotely. Before the pandemic I don't think that would have happened, so now you work remotely yeah.

Speaker 1:

How often do you have to go to a meeting in Zoom?

Speaker 2:

Well, I have meetings with my supervisor once a week, but with the higher-ups of the studio Not very often.

Speaker 1:

So, like where things are pitched to the higher-ups for approval, do you even need to be a part of that, or do you just answer to an art director?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I just answer to the supervisor and the meetings are just so we watch the next episode and know what it's about and if we have any questions.

Speaker 1:

How many people are in that meeting?

Speaker 2:

We're eight, I think, or seven.

Speaker 1:

I agree with you that the pandemic changed everything, but it's not just animation, Like all industries realized. Oh, they actually will work if we leave them alone and we don't need to read down their necks, and so I love it. And there's all kinds of hybrid situations now too.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and you have so much more control of your time, because you don't have to be traveling back and forth. But since you're at home, you have a lot more time for everything else.

Speaker 1:

I think there's a case to be made. I mean, there's all kinds of tell me your experience with this. But you know, the open floor plan that's become so popular, like I'm sorry, at Disney, call me spoiled, but I always had a cubicle, bare minimum, or an office For 11 years. Cubicle or an office Because, yeah, it takes a lot of concentration. But now you know, for 15, 20 years there was the open floor plan and the idea was oh well, more synergy, more interaction, more creative collaboration.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, more team building, more productive as a result, like they claimed on paper more productivity. Now they're saying that's bullshit. It's a money saver, yeah, and it's overrated, I agree, because some jobs you can do in the wide open. You know not what we do. In my opinion, it takes concentration, yeah. So the model changes all the time, you know. But I think the work we at home is great for all those reasons, yes, especially because we artists never stop working, right.

Speaker 1:

That's right, and if you can feed your dog instead of driving an hour, you are going to actually put more hours at some point, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, exactly Because, for example, if you start work at nine, when you have to go to work, you are right there at nine, but you have to sit down, turn on the PC, everything else At home, you just sit down and start working. You don't even need to get dressed. Exactly, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Well.

Speaker 2:

I tried to do it because For the zoo meeting yeah.

Speaker 1:

You got to brush your teeth in the morning yeah exactly.

Speaker 1:

Wear underwear, everything your mom taught you. Yeah Well, even in like unemployment, unemployment counseling, they tell you yeah, you got to. You will become depressed if you don't stick to a schedule and look for work every day and brush your damn teeth. Yeah, yeah, that's right. The structure is good for all of us. Anyway, let's get back to the creative stuff real quick if you don't mind. So you've gone to the Air and Blaze demo. You went to the Moosh screening. Anything else we should know about? Because I know you have a four day pass, right? Yeah, you're all weekend. What else is on the schedule?

Speaker 2:

Well, I have lots of talks on my schedule.

Speaker 1:

There's a lot of stuff at the same time, right, yeah, yeah, it's hard to pick so Tobacco. You studied at Animation Mentor because you had a desire to go into animation specifically, yeah, and when did you discover that you wanted to go into that field?

Speaker 2:

Well, I was in high school, I was watching a making of Aladdin and that's when I like a light bulb turned around in my head, I said I want to do that.

Speaker 1:

Were you an artist previous to that? Were you a kid who drew? Yeah, drawing.

Speaker 2:

I love Disney movies, but that making of kind of like turned it on for me.

Speaker 1:

I get it. I wonder specifically was there one aspect of the process that you wanted to be a part of, or that really surprised you? Or what about that documentary?

Speaker 2:

I think it was watching. What was his name? Jabar? No, no, no. The animator that did the genie was Goldberg Er. Eddie Goldberg Er. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Eric Goldberg yeah.

Speaker 2:

Eric Goldberg. When I saw him telling the whole story that he was first working in ads, he was called to animate the genie and all the research he did with Al Hirshville drawings. Everything that was very inspiring for me.

Speaker 1:

Well, this is related to something we were talking about earlier. Did you even know those jobs existed previous to seeing that or that there was so compartmentalized?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, but I saw them like very far away from me, like impossible to reach. I don't know why that changed when I saw it.

Speaker 1:

When, if ever, did you connect your desire to be part? You know you were an artist, you identified as an artist, but now you're like, oh, that's an actual career that I can pursue. I want to be part of that. When did you connect it with actually I'm telling stories? Like, do you have a relationship with storytelling? That's separate from art, artistry?

Speaker 2:

Not really. It's like the mostly the same thing. For me it's visual story though. Yeah, exactly so, like I said, I've always loved Disney movies and I knew from very early that they were drawn, that each frame was drawn, so I started experimenting from very small, also doing some simple animations Like book-book-book. Yeah, I still have some notebooks with the animation on the board.

Speaker 1:

Well, you used to do them on library books. No, that'll get you in trouble, but on the edge of a book right, exactly, yeah.

Speaker 2:

So I really didn't consider doing it as a profession until I saw that making of Aladdin.

Speaker 1:

Well, I think you need to see that it's possible, right, Even if it's in another country. You need to see an example that it's possible. My mom was pretty good at like. If she met an artist and she knew I drew, she was very smart about introducing me to artists that she met and making, including Claude. Remember Claude? Yeah, we kind of grew up together separately, Same town, Burbank, Burbank we're in it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, we're in it. We grew up here Kind of a subway question. Do you know what it means that the mayor declared animation week here in Burbank?

Speaker 1:

Well, I was about to say Burbank is the animation capital of the world. Strangely, it became that, yeah, Animation week. Did they just start that at the ribbon cutting?

Speaker 2:

I think so yeah, I don't know what does it?

Speaker 1:

mean it's like all holidays, right, it's just an acknowledgement, maybe. Maybe there will be some events, do you know, exciting. Do you have any thoughts on Dora the Explorer or coming to CTN?

Speaker 4:

Yeah, my take this year has kind of just been trying to be in it. This year I was very much on the grind like I was like kind of like very like, like I didn't even know who I wanted to meet. So this year I've been kind of seeing it as like well, these are people who could be my colleagues and my friends if I managed to do what I'm trying to do, because I personally haven't had a whole bunch of luck in the industry. I've mostly only ever done freelance, but as an artist I've still had a nourished life and coming to things like this is fun, and last year it was kind of this like starstruck experience, whereas this year I kind of feel more like I'm here with my friend Nick and I'm seeing people I recognize and meeting people, and it's inspiring Both on the artist's end and on the business end. I actually take a lot of pride living in Burbank, even though there's some things that are not great about it.

Speaker 1:

I love Burbank.

Speaker 4:

It's just grown up, it's a big spot yeah, but you know, like it's, there is this kind of razzle-dazzle about that being told like, oh, that thing that you grew up wanting to do, you're in the perfect place for it, so yeah. So it's cool how accessible this sort of thing is.

Speaker 1:

Okay. So after thanking Vicho and learning that he was staying, he came for Lightbox and CTN both, so I believe he came for over a month. Turns out, la is a really big place geographically for those of you that don't live here Not so much population-wise but geographically. It's very spread out. There's mountains in between the different neighborhoods and it turns out Vicho is living literally blocks from my house. So anyway, we decided to do coffee together and we moved on to other interviews.

Speaker 1:

So next we caught up with Ed Kirtner, whom I described at the top of this episode. He's served many functions on production, but I knew him at Disney during my 11 years there, mainly as a layout supervisor. So he'll explain the different facets of his career as we dive in. All right, enjoy. So we just came out of breakfast with the pros at Daily Grill and we were lucky enough to run into my colleague of many years, ed Kirtner, and I could just say, hey, I know Ed and, trust me, he's got some valuable stuff to say. But I don't want to presume anything and I actually don't know your entire resume. So can you tell me maybe pre-Disney and Disney what projects did you work on and in what capacity?

Speaker 3:

I went to Cal Arts right out of high school and did my four years. Actually, I did three years and they wanted to hire me and I said, you know, I think one more year.

Speaker 1:

Disney wanted to hire you, yeah.

Speaker 3:

And so I couldn't believe I said this. But I said one more year, just give me one more year. And they did so. After my fourth year I got hired. I came right in on Fox and the Hound doing layout. I replaced Tom Enriquez who's brilliant, tom, I mean.

Speaker 1:

You stayed on in visual development right.

Speaker 3:

Yeah for a little bit, and so, anyway, I went to Cal Arts for four years, got my degree and went right into Disney Features on Fox and the Hound and was able to learn how to. One of my projects was to do the last multi-plane shot. That.

Speaker 2:

I think we did on the original camera.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and so Ruthie Thompson, who, in her own right, she broke into an area of film that most women they didn't allow. It was a, it was a. What did you do at?

Speaker 1:

the same time I was in the first club.

Speaker 3:

You know the camera was and she taught me how to work the multi-plane camera. So I had to figure out with the calculator, each level, how far to move it, when to do it.

Speaker 4:

She's so crude now, isn't she?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I know, and so I did that and moved on. I was on Black Cauldron for about three months and then there was a director who had left and came back. He had health problems and they needed a crew to do the animation for Epcot in Tokyo Disneyland. And I was 24 at the time and they said what'd you like to art direct? I went art direct and I was like a dog.

Speaker 4:

Yeah yeah, yeah, yeah sure, sure.

Speaker 3:

And so all my teachers were the nine old men and they were still at the studio at the time, lucky you. So what happened was they said okay, you're art director, we want you to go over to WDI and there's some artists over there we want you to work with. And I said, cool, great, no problem. So I go over and I go into the walk into this conference room and there's my teacher, ken O'Connor, and there's word Kimball and Mark Davis and Claude Coates and Kent.

Speaker 1:

Anderson and I'm going hey guys, how you doing.

Speaker 3:

I knew all over man, Hi guys, how you doing, and I said so where are the artists I'm supposed to work with?

Speaker 1:

You're art directing Warke Kimball yeah.

Speaker 3:

And so my teacher goes well, now the student is the teacher. And I went, the room goes back, you know, and I was like, oh shit, dive right in. And I'm oh my god, what am I going to do? And I stopped for a minute. You know, everything slowed down and I was like, ah, and I went oh, this is going to be cool. These guys all I have to do is say eh, and they did. They were all very nice about it, all were willing to do it.

Speaker 3:

After a while I thought, you know, they put me in there because they knew that they, you know, these guys were going to do their, but they needed an art director. But I went, you know what? I started getting a little backbone and I said, you know, there were a couple of times I say, you know, let's change the color on this. You know they were doing it the right way, what was being told by management? But I said, you know, we got to. We got to make this right, and so it was. It was a great collaboration. I had so much fun working with those guys.

Speaker 3:

And so after that, and that was like an interstitial for the parks or what kind of figment and you know all the rides in Epcot the American Pavilion, the Seas Pavilion, imagination, and then the 360 for Tokyo Disneyland. And so after that was done, we came back and we had we still had our little unit, but it turned into the Great Mouse Encyclopedia or, as I prefer to call it, basil of Baker Street.

Speaker 1:

No, it was the Great. No, basil.

Speaker 3:

It was called Basil.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, let's run those. Have you ever heard about that memo, the internal memo that circulated?

Speaker 3:

So names were changed on all the movies. Ed Gombert, I'll give him credit on that. He'd probably kill me, but he changed everything you know, like the little wooden boy that lost you know. Blah, blah, blah, blah. And so he went through all the movies and changed all the titles. It was great, do?

Speaker 1:

you have to follow that. Okay, it was because the higher-ups changed the name from Basil of Baker Street to the Great Mouse Detective. You know, like the, what was the Cinderella?

Speaker 3:

one Like the, or even just Basil. It should have just been a one-word, you know. So I was on that. Actually, I was on it doing layout and there was, I had a friend, mike Parazza, and I were co-art directors for six to eight months on it, and then they made Bernie Mattson producer on it and he brought in somebody else to be the art director and I was like, wait a minute. We got half the movie done already, and so I wrote a letter to Roy Disney at the time and said you know, if this continues, you're going to lose people like me who really want to do this. I mean, they didn't even tell us that they were going to take us off, and one day you were in the old animation building, weren't you? Yeah?

Speaker 1:

How many of them? 14, 20, you mean, or oh no, not on the main lot, I was never there.

Speaker 3:

You know, because it was all wooden doors and long hallways, so everything echoed, just like this. All I heard was from Bernie, get your ass down here. Oh shoot, they got the letter. And so I came in, me and Mike came in. I got the most flat for it because I was direct, but I realized that they weren't going to fire me. Roy must have spanked their backsides. And so well, we're going to use your work. I said well, am I going to be in the meeting? Am I going to be part of this thing? No, yeah, yeah, yeah. And I was like, yeah, okay. And eventually I was right. They pushed me aside. So finally I got a call from Phil Roman, who was just had just done. He was in the middle of doing the Garfield TV specials and he said I want to hire you to do all my layouts. So I went, okay.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, my question was how did you transition from art directing straight out the gate to layout supervisor? That was the transition right there.

Speaker 3:

So I did that for a year and then came back to Disney at Disney TV and I designed with other people DuckTales and then I did Winnie the Pooh. I was art directing Winnie the Pooh, so I chose.

Speaker 1:

DuckTales is still. Was it a revival or has it been in production all these years? The original no, no, I know, but it's still being made. Was that a reboot?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and then it got on Winnie the Pooh and I I'm a traditional person, I'm a traditional person. We did that, and if people want to see something, they remember what they saw. Don't change it. Or if you're going to change it, plus it. So when I got ahold of the shorts for Winnie the Pooh, I said let's create the 100 acre woods, let's give everybody at home, let's give all these things. And we did that for the first season. And after the first season I was, I was made director. So I directed two, three, three seasons of Winnie the Pooh and I got an Emmy for it.

Speaker 3:

And right after that I art directed a little bit of Tailspin and then Carol Police took over. What year are we now?

Speaker 1:

What year this?

Speaker 3:

is sorry, this is 89.

Speaker 1:

I was at ArtCenter, I was. I interned in 90. That was my first brush with Disney.

Speaker 3:

I directed 13 episodes and at the end of my creating the episodes it was they weren't finished. They called me for the features. How'd you like to work on a feature with us? It's a thing called Beauty and the Beast. So that's how I became a layout supervisor On Beauty and the Beast On Beauty and the Beast.

Speaker 1:

That's funny. I was interning when Beauty and the Beast was in development and Resturant Down Under was in production.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and what happened and I'll speed this up a little bit is when we got to, when I got back over, management had changed. I mean, it was like night and day. The old guys were out, this was Tom and Peter, in other words, well, tom and Peter were in there now, had already been, and the old guys Ed Hansen and all the old have left, and so it was run totally different. Because in the old days, you know the layout, the supervisors of each department kept track of what we did. You know we'd go into a meeting once a week and say okay, I'll give you 30 layouts, because I've got 20 people, we can do one a day and we'll give you extra. Now I had production assistance. There was associate producers, there were secretaries for everybody there were.

Speaker 1:

There were so many people top down More sort of the production end. In other words, yeah, it was very heavy.

Speaker 3:

And it was like okay, it's different, we'll, we'll, we'll deal with it. And but Jeffrey called us all into. There were 15 of us, maybe Because they had spent a year and a half, maybe two years, I don't know. I don't know the time frame. Over in England the Purrdoms were supposed to do Beauty and the Beast, but it started looking very, I don't say European, very cold and hard and old type. I mean it was beautiful. I saw the artwork on it?

Speaker 1:

Was it Rococo at that time? Was that the influence?

Speaker 3:

And so they went ah, that's just not our movies. So they brought it back here, wasn't some of that?

Speaker 1:

sorry to interrupt you. Wasn't some of that done in Paris? Why is that? In the back of my mind, Andreas told us some story about the early days on that.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, not Paris. That was the hunchback. We went to Paris on that.

Speaker 1:

No, no, no, he told us a story about early on and I don't know.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, whatever, I came in when they brought it back. Okay, so they put 15 of us back on the main lot, kept it quiet and they said Jeffrey had us in the meeting and he said, look, three months, we want two sequences and if you can't Get it done, we're closing down features. And we were all like, okay, so we were all in the same boat at the point, you know, and it was Roger L, it was me, kirk and Gary, brian McInty, brenda, just you know, top people, the funeral.

Speaker 1:

Question still mythology. You know, we all know black cauldron has some beautiful moments and some beautiful bits of animation and some beautiful Layouts and backgrounds, but I think the conventional wisdom, like we used to screen it regularly as what not to do, right. But the mythology is, oh, there was just nobody With the storytelling. Yes, some genius, some great up-and-coming talent, but no one with it. But I remember I the mythology I absorbed was they almost did away with feature animation after that string of flops, but that the renaissance began with. They say with, but you're saying as early as yeah yeah, the beast.

Speaker 1:

They were saying we're gonna shut down feature animation entirely. Yeah, well, that was actually after the mermaid, wasn't okay? So they were still.

Speaker 3:

Story. The story thing was just they weren't getting it and they finally went back and allowed the artist to come up with the story on the Storyboards. That's what Disney was always about. There was never a script where you went, okay, page one, they have to go here. It was, it can be grew.

Speaker 1:

The visual storytelling from right. The script I mean there is no scope the treatment and then the storyboard.

Speaker 3:

You have an outline for a story and then let the story development people Carry it through my teaching is like the visual development and informed story development right, and it's reciprocal.

Speaker 1:

And then even the boarding you can have a site gag that inspires a little bit of visual development art and then it's bounced right back in it in the old days.

Speaker 3:

What I'm talking about is, maybe you know, snow White, through a Lady in the Tramp Navy, was that you know there was a limited amount of people to do storyboarding, so they would do their storyboarding and then it went into layout and at that time the storyboard people went on to the next movie. So layout had to do a new boarding if it came up, because we were the, we were the next people in line, so, and that's where workbooking came out. Oh, really, okay, we would do. What the layout department would do would be to put the cinematics into it, the staging and camera, and then also draw the new storyboards.

Speaker 1:

Just for the listeners. Do you mind describing exactly what a store, a Workbook is, because you know whenever I just quickly editorial whenever you know we were very spoiled at Disney very well-oiled machine, a great production pipeline and Every single smaller company that's trying to get in. The game that I worked with, I would say just do the workbook, you'll save yourselves.

Speaker 3:

You won't tear it.

Speaker 1:

Oh no, we'll fix it in post. It's that mentality of we'll fix it in post, so what?

Speaker 3:

happened was that the, the storyboards became more about the acting than the cinematics.

Speaker 1:

The story is for the story telling right valuable cues for the enemy.

Speaker 3:

But it didn't have the cinematics, it didn't have the perspective, didn't have the camera angles. It didn't have. That was part of layout which became more important instead of the multi-plane camera.

Speaker 1:

when we started doing right like three-dimensional, like modeling the environments, like the ballroom, that became very important yeah it became part of the language of film, because animation was becoming an adult, so to speak, and so Sorry, the first one to be nominated as best picture, so yeah.

Speaker 3:

The way you had to have what's the angle? And there was, there was a methodology to Disney as far as cinematics, it was always establishing shot Cut in a little closer, a little closer, and let the acting play. After that sequence you'd back back out and have an established shot, go to the next sequence.

Speaker 1:

So you're reserving intimacy, right? You don't squander your close-ups until it opens up emotionally. Yeah, this is the world.

Speaker 3:

Here are the characters in the world, here's the emotion, part of it, and then you back out of it and that was constant and it became very, yeah, yeah, pedestrian, whatever you want to call it. So now you know, as everything progresses, you have to do some different things to make it interesting. So, but unfortunately, well, we can get into all this, you know, because I am a cinematographer In a sense, like these days when they say, oh, use a handheld camera, and I say, wait a minute, a Handheld camera, I'm not sure what you're talking about. Now, if you're riding in the car and you're moving, yes, but am I talking to you doing this? Hi, how are you?

Speaker 3:

What are you doing? You know it's like no, don't do that. The camera does not move and and one of the basic rules that people can prove me wrong if you want to you do not move the camera before they actually. You let the characters move first, because what you're doing is then Pretelling the story to your audience. Let the character go hmm, what am I doing? And walk off stage and let the camera follow, but you don't let the camera move first, because then you're ruining the acting.

Speaker 1:

I love it, yeah well, I'm, you know that kind of follows you cut on action, and then there's everything's motivated. The idea of having motivated cuts right. So until there's a reason, how about that? I just think there's got to be a reason, yeah there has to be a reason to do anything. Just to back up a little bit and be a little more holistic and conceptual about the whole thing. Don't you think film language evolves?

Speaker 3:

like we train our audience.

Speaker 1:

Yes, yes, right, maybe handheld didn't work before Blair, which, but now it's kind of acceptable. It's not formal film language.

Speaker 3:

No, and if you have a specific thing that you want to do, yes, use it. You know, I said moving the camera before the characters. It could be where you you're on a character and you're thinking and you want to Pick up another character someplace else. Then you move the camera without the character moving, because then the audience is becoming objective.

Speaker 1:

Language, yeah, and we train our audiences like, for example, you know you would never you would truck in or push in on a track. You would never do a land right, you never zoom in. Nowadays it's a horror movie effect from the 70s that doesn't, doesn't hold up.

Speaker 3:

The one time boom, boom.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, gotta rotate the camera 15 degrees if you're gonna Move to a medium close-up or a close-up. But once upon a time it was accepted boom, boom, boom. That makes sense like exactly, and now it's just cheap.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and I mean, I used it in Lion King when Simba, when Simba Is on the will to be, sir, coming out of your rack. Yeah, I did a rack focus and I trucked out on the background and trucked in on him.

Speaker 1:

It worked. It wasn't that cheesy horror movie thing from the 70s.

Speaker 3:

And I always, once we got the computer in, you know, it's like, oh, we can do shadows and we could do highlights, and we can do. I said, what is the term effect mean to you? The fact that happens every once in a while, it's not a constant, it's an effect.

Speaker 1:

That's why the workbook was so important. I remember its budget related to right. What do we have the luxury of doing? Are there Foreground, middle ground, background? Are we gonna do deep canvas for this, like that's a whole another podcast?

Speaker 3:

Yeah yeah, and my teacher taught me from Lady in the Tramp because this was his sequence and lady in the tramp, when lady Comes around and she's gonna go up and see the rat rats with the baby, it's a long shot, it's a sapling shot of the hallway with the stairs and they had a tall window and the light came down through the ground. There were six drawings of shadows when she walked through the light. That's all their work, but it was so effective that your mind oh God, look, you know there's more depth to it, but they only had to do six right Some economy and it was worse.

Speaker 3:

You know, put it where it's worth. You can go play at a car, but why the hell would you?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's kind of like busting your. It's a waste. Well, isn't there something to be said philosophically as well for creating an impression? You know, and the hyper realism we're talking about, like even when I'm a backroom painter, so I think, in terms of how light effects form, which results in a color, and every, the every color note can have meaning or represent something but, yet your eye can't Take in the full range.

Speaker 1:

It exposes for the lights or exposes for the darks. Right Crunches the darks or blows out the lights. So impressionism spoke truth for a reason, because it's an impression, like the ICs. Sometimes hyper realism is surreal and it's that uncanny valley right that's disturbing because it's not life, it doesn't represent life.

Speaker 3:

No, it's not real and that's what your. You have to remember. You have an audience that's untrained I don't want to say stupid, because they're you're there seeing your picture, but they're untrained. So you're the puppet master, you're the magician, you want to show them. Hey, this is what I'm, this is what I want to say, and you're maybe educating him too at the same time over time.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, training audience, yes, over. And I think that's part of the problem too is that when you start training people, they see it, and so now you have to take the next step.

Speaker 1:

How did you feel about the higher frame rates, like do you remember when the Hobbit was projected theatrically for the first time? Any thoughts?

Speaker 3:

I don't think you need to go that way, Personally.

Speaker 1:

I just remember. You know HDDV was fairly new but it was becoming the norm. But specifically the high frame rate. It wasn't hyper real but it was like am I watching somebody's home video of a picnic?

Speaker 3:

It's really radia. It's ridiculous In the sense that when you watching TV, even now this is 2023 the only stuff you're going to be able to pick up on your TV that is real From from the source is Maybe 2k, maybe 4k at the most, but they're selling 8k, 10k TVs. You're not seeing anything, you're not getting anything.

Speaker 1:

It's a lot of it. It's a fucking. It's a fair, it's a fair Right.

Speaker 3:

And it's true, it's too clean. Everything is so sharp that you lose a sense of depth. That's what I mean by that.

Speaker 1:

It should be an impression like life. You know, you shouldn't be able to see every pore and somebody's work. Actually, anderson Cooper realized he had a sty just because CNN introduced the higher resolution. Yeah, he got it taken care of.

Speaker 3:

And then now what's funny is that they're creating I don't want to say JPEGs or GIFs that have scratches so they can put it into in dirt, into it's like we're faking yeah, you're faking reality. Well then, why do it Is your paper man, was that the name of it?

Speaker 1:

Yes, beautiful, beautiful film, but it was. There was a little irony there. Like we're trying to because of the balance, you know, the squash and stretch, the anticipation and the action. Yeah, that's being lost. We're now going to tune shade.

Speaker 3:

It just was like trying to get back what the technology didn't account for You're spending so much more and I always say you know the business people were really good with the computers. The computers I always say right now the computers are in an infancy, because until you can get an animator to take a model and be able to squash and stretch like if you were doing not AI VR, you know where you can get the animator each animator to create his own character. It's all going to look the same, because one person builds a model and all you're doing is moving and the more you move, the more it costs. And the computer, if you have a straight line, it's the simplest, cheapest thing to render Well, forever.

Speaker 1:

I didn't understand ARCs so you couldn't in between, because we understand ARCs, but the computer it's getting better, right, yeah, and ARCs take more points, which means more memory, which means more money.

Speaker 3:

So that's why things were so stiff, and now they've created programs that simplify it, whatever, but until each artist can actually put their own personal human touch to it, it's going to look cheesy. And the reason that Pixar did so well was that their initial stories were inanimate objects Humans.

Speaker 1:

Have you watched the first Toy Story lately? No, it's come a long way. Yeah, Like well, truly, you see a human coming and you're like no, Go back to the toys.

Speaker 3:

And that's why Because humans have this thing of well, I know that's not right they want to be the Monday morning quarterbacks Like, oh, that person didn't move right.

Speaker 1:

The very foundations of traditional animation squash and stretch potential energy, kinetic energy, anticipation action. It's actually a thought-motivating action. That's what we're getting at right. You don't just turn like a puppet on a string, there's a thought attached and so that, I think, is worth mentioning Thought and then physical.

Speaker 3:

You know like for me if I turn my arms I got 37 in charge. You know I'm going to hit somebody when I turn. I'm actually on the table.

Speaker 1:

You know Detail in the dark.

Speaker 3:

So AI? People are nervous these days about AI. Ai has been around, call it something different. I've been using AI in my 2D artwork for years, especially since Photoshop has come in. If you draw a window and you want to use it in something else, you put it in a library, take it out and you reuse it, but you've got to control it. You have to be an adult and be able to control what you can do.

Speaker 1:

We were talking about. You have to input the parameters. It's just not there yet in a lot of ways, It'll get there as a tool.

Speaker 3:

If somebody's going to do bad, it doesn't matter what you do.

Speaker 1:

That's why it's a silly conversation. You can't stop it anyway.

Speaker 3:

Really AI today, say in animations, since we're talking, animation is really what that is is rotoscoping. If you took live action and you rotoscoped the character exactly from the live action, you can see it.

Speaker 1:

Robbing it of the squash and stretch.

Speaker 3:

Exactly, you can spot it a mile away. If you take AI and do that, pull it, stretch it, give it some squash and stretch.

Speaker 1:

You'd never see it, so you're putting back what you robbed it of in the first place.

Speaker 1:

Taking the human frailty. I have to explain myself. The only reason I have the roving eye is this dude that's trying to get a hold of me before you came along. I just need to read this. I want to put a cap on it. Can we just do a little cap? After I see it, I'm sorry. I feel horrible. He's from Chile and one of the people. I'll read that in a second. I'm the Gooseby bald guy and the boy in shirt. I did pass by. I know what he looks like from Facebook, but you saw me wave right and then he just kept going. He saw that we were in an interview, but I feel horrible, so maybe just put a cap. But are we still recording? I am going to do a whole episode on AI, but I do them by Zoom. Would you be willing to come on audio only by Zoom? I would love to talk about AI. No, oh, my God, I'm setting things on your book. I'm so sorry. That's okay. Yeah, and she's going to jot down your email. I probably have it, but just so.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, you're on my Facebook page. Facebook page you can both have it, you can both.

Speaker 1:

Have it, you can both have Facebook page?

Speaker 3:

No, oh yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so if you care I don't know if you even care, but we'll send you a link to this episode so you can hear it. I don't know if you you need the glory or the story at this point, but we'll give you some glory.

Speaker 3:

But anyway, I mean, I was back and forth to TV to feature and then finally we got kicked out In 2003,. I got kicked out Even though I built a tower for Blin King for what the hell was that Rapunzel? They didn't want me at Features anywhere. I learned, they taught me how to do Maya, and so I took that elsewhere. So I did Simpsons, I did Hellboy, I did.

Speaker 1:

Well, I think there being a little disease just when they say they no longer wanted you Was layout evolving as a department, in other words, or it just didn't have a place in CG. Yeah, or did you just forget to shower now?

Speaker 3:

I might have been showering, I don't know. It was a fight in the morning Because I was. I moved my way up through the system. I could do every. I was an animator.

Speaker 1:

I animated on Lord of the Rings, tell me the titles you worked on at Disney, if you don't mind. We were up to Prince and the Popper, and then Beauty and the Beast Beauty and the Beast.

Speaker 3:

I did. Features Came back for Lion King Punchback. I worked on Mulan I worked.

Speaker 1:

In Florida or LA.

Speaker 3:

Here, but I went there to pick the stuff up, yeah, and then Atlantis, and then I did the Shorts. It was supposed to be Fantasia 3000.

Speaker 1:

Well, I worked for Little Match Girl and One by One there was the two Beautiful little gems right, Little Match Girl.

Speaker 3:

I have a great story some other time that you want to talk about. I'm on the podcast. They only had a budget for 200 feet of extras In the Match Girl Extras. What do you mean?

Speaker 1:

The other people walking around. Match Girl, I didn't know, we called them extras in animation. That's really I got an echo in it.

Speaker 3:

It turned out that it was 1200 feet. So what I did is I set up all the characters for the animators to walk the humans 3 quarter this way and 3 quarter this way, and then we just painted them different. So we only used 120 feet of animation, but we painted the characters different Because you only saw you either saw this or you saw this Right.

Speaker 1:

So we just it reminds me a little bit of, you know, the Will to be Stampede became the Han attack. Basically, you know, for variations of body types and more exponentially more with the coloration, because we had no money, so I set it up.

Speaker 3:

We'll just use, you know, paint the blue, paint that one green, paint this one yellow, whatever those ones were.

Speaker 1:

I think underappreciated Just because one was a theatrical release with a feature and then one was released with a DDD. But I ask my students all the time and it's like 50-50.

Speaker 3:

It came out political. It was in the era of politics at Disney. Roy Disney was the producer and he got kicked out of the board, off the board, and I actually had to go down and allow him to come in the building that had his name on it.

Speaker 1:

So if you come on the podcast I'd love to talk to you about. Remember, when Frank Wells died and that helicopter crashed the whole. I guess there's entire documentaries on it. Right, that was a big transition too, and I think that's when Roy was kind of displaced a little more too.

Speaker 3:

Roy and Michael and it was supposed to be cantasia 3000. And actually the last thing I did was working with Roy. We were going to do a 360 for the park with the whales from the rights of spring, and so I still have my storyboard workbook at home.

Speaker 1:

I wish, because the original vision was Walt wanted to re-release Fantasia every few years with new sequences. And then I remember like, oh, this is a way of not sending people back, right, but creating things without a budget or a really released schedule, but keeping people busy.

Speaker 3:

Yes, because that's the key about Disney. That's why the other studios, in my opinion, fell apart, except the one you just became paper towels and the spin-flops the one closest was Warner Brothers during the 30s, 40s, 50s Was that you had the same people working. Everybody knew how to work with somebody else because you worked with them before and it kept the process moving. When you hire somebody and you hire somebody over there, then you got to understand who they are and how they work and what their story is.

Speaker 1:

But also security. I was 20 years old when I started that job. I had a four-year contract with options, yes, but that's called security. And it was unheard of. Tom Woodington, you remember Tom? You veterans had experienced this thing where you just got a buoyancy and you got to move around. I had no clue what it would turn into, but Tom was like dude, this is unheard of to have this degree of security and four-year contract. I was about 11 years before I saw the Oxford. How many? 35. Exactly, but I'm saying I was new and it was incredibly disillusioning when you realized, oh, they do. We are numbers when it comes right down to it, but Filiparo really did work with people and try to keep the same people on better than anywhere else.

Speaker 3:

Yes, and that's what I feel, when it made all the hits because the artwork was so brilliant during a period of really bad stories.

Speaker 1:

Like Black Hole Exactly. There were some really beautiful gems.

Speaker 3:

Mobius was in the room next to me, mobius the comic, the French comic guy. They had him doing a sequence, the title sequence, and it was really out there and they never used it, unfortunately, because it was beautiful. So they brought it. Mike Plu came in. We had an mouse detective, I think, of course, who came in it might have been Caldera and so they had artists coming in. It was. It was, you know, that sense of yeah, we could do this, we could do something different, and then it became very stale Because they were making a lot of money. You know, and that's the eyes of your audience.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's when they started squandering, right? Remember, originally Walt would re-release everything theatrically every 10 years and keep the value, and then everything got squandered on DVD during that window of time, right? Well, while Sharon were a nostalgia later, I didn't realize we shared so many of those titles. It worked on a lot of the same films. I didn't work on Mouman because it was in Florida. The backgrounds were done in Florida and then in Atlantis I think I was taking a sabbatical so I didn't work on that.

Speaker 3:

A lot of the same. That was an interesting show because they brought in a lot of people from the outside to design, which kind of okay, I'll say it pissed us off, but I liked the guys, I liked it, and I was actually working with Ricardo Delgado still, and he's a great guy.

Speaker 1:

Well, I think they're in the business he's.

Speaker 3:

TTI.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I know, at Art Center. I haven't been there in five years but I did run into him there at a department meeting once. But I think you know visual development. I think it's normal to bring somebody into influence the film and then send them on their way right On a per-picture basis, but not in production. So much right, no.

Speaker 3:

And that was the. That's where I came in, because I would come in on a movie right from the start. So I designed Bell's House, I designed the castle, because I was the first one on it. As a matter of fact, there was a meeting with Jeffrey. I had just come back and Peter was nervous that I was gonna say something wrong in front of Jeffrey. He said you don't say anything, just let Jeffrey speak.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, okay, and so we had our, somebody had done a street scene, and then I did Bell's House and out in the woods, so to speak, and Jeffrey gets up there. Yeah, I like it. You know she wants to be part of the town and we could put her up on the top up there and she's always looking down, you know, trying to be. And I said, ah, jeffrey, and I could see Peter almost take over, shit, you know. And I said don't say anything, don't say anything. And I said, but yeah, but Jeffrey, don't you think that? You know? Her dad is this wacko guy. He's been there. He's older than she is. Obviously. You know his own father. He's been in the town. He's the guy with the 10 trucks on his front lawn on your, in your neighborhood, and he's down at the end of the block because nobody wants him in town and he went. You know you're right. Now I can see Peter, kind of like what, and that was actually the first drawing I did, was in the movie.

Speaker 1:

And that's it shows to go, yeah.

Speaker 4:

Well, I have a similar.

Speaker 1:

Peter's. No, I have a fun, this is just for entertainment. Then we'll wrap this up, I think he'll appreciate this. The Pocahontas, yeah, there's nothing but love, nothing but love, chocopanus, chocopanus Is the Chocopanus opening. And you know we took over Central Park, which only Disney could do that right, which locals weren't too happy about.

Speaker 1:

But for some reason I had a cousin in Jersey, in the Jersey countryside, so I thought I'll give her a night out and I'll take her to the Pocahontas opening. So she went to the rainbow room with me. For that it was a wonderful evening. But everybody's getting their food at the buffet and there's no seating arrangements. And so my and she was kind of think the nanny Like, but blonde, like beautiful long blonde hair, but just she's from California.

Speaker 1:

But somehow she very quickly adapted, like you know, the very loud and brassy, awesome, like everybody loves her. But of course I'm a little self-conscious about my date. So anyway, after getting our food she plops. There was no seating left, so she just plopped down at a table with Patty and Roy Disney. And so I'm like oh, oh. And then so Peter shows up almost immediately and you know he's rubbing my shoulders. He's like Nick, have you and your date met Patty and Roy Disney. Like, in other words, beyond your best behavior. But Patty and Veronica just fell in love. They were sitting there like don't you hate wearing pantyhose to these events? And like, very down here Real peace.

Speaker 3:

I went over there a few times, and the one time, the first time, I went over for the Boondoggle, I was still in charge of layout on Lion King and so I had to come back to politics. They let me go. They could let me go one day after everybody was there, and I had to come back one day before Because they're for whatever reason Anyway. And Roy came in and he goes hey, I got my plane here. You guys, you know why don't you just hop on my plane and we'll go see my castle in England or Ireland, and then we'll head back.

Speaker 4:

Must be nice.

Speaker 1:

Grab some lunch real quick. I don't wanna do that. And how was it I did?

Speaker 3:

Oh, I had to come back one day earlier. So anyway, thanks, but he was a great guy. I mean, he came in one time and we were working on the shorts. You know, it was probably a match girl, I think it was at the time, and he goes hey, you wanna see my new boat, shows me.

Speaker 3:

He goes yeah, pay 10 million for it. It was a carbon fiber sailboat because he would get in the Trans Pacific race. He won the race, he went to San Francisco, to Hawaii, but after he gave the boat to a charity where kids could learn how to sail, and that was Roy.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, that was Roy. They were very down to earth and I think that equates to well-intentioned and good people together. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 3:

My uncle that I named after we can go in worked at Disney 30s to 40s, really when the union came in and he owned a portion of UPA. This portion, actually, he sold to Harry Conn, which became Columbia, which they took over. Anyway, my uncle took Art Babbit and Bill Titler back to New York for his company during the Hays Commission. Right, right, look, art Peeves. Yeah, he bought David Hope of Hilberman's company because he was a communist. So, anyway, they did shorts and that's when my uncle died and that's when Titler came back to ask Walt about his job back in the day.

Speaker 1:

So that was the whole propaganda era.

Speaker 3:

So anyway, yeah, when shorts became sort of propaganda. And so my uncle. He was part of that whole.

Speaker 1:

What's his last?

Speaker 3:

name Gershmund. Yeah, he's Gershmund.

Speaker 1:

Not. Oh, I heard Gertner.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, no, gershmund, we'll have to talk because I have an uncle and my family.

Speaker 1:

There's a myth that, oh, your uncle worked for, you know, on Hyperion at the first studio in the 50s and I never quite believed it. And just the other day I went on. He has an IMDb page and I'm like they weren't lying, it's all there. They probably worked together, as my point, in the 50s.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, he created General McBoying and Mr McGoo.

Speaker 1:

His son was oh, okay, wow at UPA.

Speaker 3:

His son was named Mike and they used to nickname him McGoo, and that's what. Love those long story shorts. I love those UPA shorts. Long story and long.

Speaker 1:

I wish they had a family like Sonia Finchifon.

Speaker 3:

That's exactly what happened to a bunch of us who were doing Galaxy Gas, which is still. We sold it.

Speaker 1:

Sorry for my ignorance. Is that a film? It was a feature. Sorry, galaxy Gas.

Speaker 3:

It was Kirk Weiss, me, brian McInty, a bunch of people, and we sold it to the Weinsteins Just before he got Yikes, yikes. And how did you?

Speaker 1:

Did you cut AFM or how did you get their attention on?

Speaker 3:

it. Craig Penn was a producer. He's the one that did Andreas's picture. Okay, well.

Speaker 1:

Roger was the line producer, right. Yeah, yeah, was there a bigger producer that got the distribution and all that?

Speaker 3:

Yeah yeah him, and he's a great guy. He pushes hard, got it done. But when the Weinsteins got popped, you know, and in Hollywood, if your film doesn't get made, whether it's bought or not, it's dead, whether it's good or bad.

Speaker 1:

So they were attached from straight out the gate, the Weinsteins, or did they pick it up once it was in production?

Speaker 3:

They picked it up. We did a, we had a. Actually it's on YouTube.

Speaker 1:

I'm gonna check that out. Tell me the name one more time Galaxy. I should listen to that. We'll listen to that. So did you self-distribute it straight to DVD Is that a thing anymore? Or did you stream it so at the?

Speaker 3:

time he took it around. Craig took it around and, like they said, there was a lot of interest in it and it was sold. Rob Papel.

Speaker 1:

One of the chances. I could have been a contender, but I got him bit with Weinsteins Cutta cutta.

Speaker 3:

And that's the second one for me, because one of the first ones Mike Giomo and I were working on a show temporary called the Bird Picture and Gary Kurtz was the producer who was the producer on Star Wars the first one, the first one and Kind of a dream team, yeah and so. And Paul Bartell was the. He was another producer but he was part of an acting group Mary Warnock and I can't remember the. They were out of New York and he was in Eating Rowell. He was the lead actor and so we had it going and we had all the artwork, we had the story down and then we got handmade films. So I was gonna be able to art direct over in England with George Harrison, you know, and I'm going, guys, needles, I can do this. This is great. We got Paramount behind it.

Speaker 1:

Somehow I feel like it's not gonna have a happy ending, but just a hunch.

Speaker 3:

And then Spielberg put out Howard the Duck and it killed our picture faster than Was it similar territory, in other words, or Kind of? It was basically. The story was about a person who had a mental problem and this character would pop out. It was. He was an artist, he went, got fixed up, got his job back and he's drawing in. One day the character comes back out and he was a nasty little.

Speaker 1:

I guess why, Howard the Duck? Why was that the thorn in your side, exactly it was a bird.

Speaker 3:

Ha ha ha.

Speaker 1:

Well, let me, I think, since we're in going down this rabbit it will tell me if you, you know. Do you happen to remember when, I don't know, brenda was yeah, you know, let's see, kevin was doing Tarzan and she was on Brave, I believe at the same moment, like what the hell do you think they talked about when their heads hit the pillow? At night, I would go to DreamWorks for lunch with my brother and Ants and bugs. Life were neck and neck right. So there's a reason you can call it.

Speaker 3:

Somebody had their pulse on collective pop culture, or Every studio in 10 animation studio in town had a panda story and it just so happened that DreamWorks got this out first.

Speaker 1:

Well, and then we would sabotage each other's releases too. Right, you time the release to sabotage the other. However, couldn't it wet the public's appetite for a given? You know, I don't think it has to be a negative, you know.

Speaker 3:

If you have a different story, put it out there. Who cares?

Speaker 1:

And I used to say you know how? We have the gong show every year, right, and so you'd hear all these stolen idea stories and I would, in my naive youth. I would say Disney doesn't need to steal your stories, there's a lot of genius under that roof. But then I actually I have my own stolen property story all these years later. You know.

Speaker 3:

It's a business and they treat it like. And that's the problem, I feel in animation is that it is a business. Now it's not a creative, it's not coming from the world.

Speaker 1:

Art for art's sake. Remember that.

Speaker 3:

The problem with Hollywood right now is when it first started, all the way up, I would say until 70s, 80s, maybe even 90s, people were in charge of these companies. They came up through the ranks, or whether it was artistically or business wise. Even Iger to this day, he came up through ABC, you know. So he had the experience, whether you like it or not. Well, how about?

Speaker 1:

love of craft, love of story.

Speaker 3:

So he had all that, you think but now it's a, it's a corporation, and they go no, we got to make money for our stockholders.

Speaker 1:

I was at the bottom line. Yeah, yeah. And that's I never, thought about that they didn't come up through the ranks with an appreciation and a respect for the artist.

Speaker 3:

Everybody wants to be a CEO, so they can make $400 million and in five years I'm gonna go live in Hawaii.

Speaker 1:

That's all I mean. Capitalist greed is not new, the intersection of art and business is not new, but maybe the model has changed. I just feel like every industry you had a, let's say, kate Bush who was never gonna have a top 40, you know, top town or even a top 40 hit, but they kept her on because they knew her loyal following had an appreciation of actual artistic integrity, artistry, literary value. Maybe that's what's gone out the window in every industry.

Speaker 3:

Yes, and it it's in our society. I mean, that's why we're in the State that we're in the United States Well, actually the world Because, center, there's a big group in the middle who have gotten complacent, or or not. I shouldn't say complacent, not in a bad term, but in a good way. You know, we're all living our lives, our needs are met, and that's the two extremes that are fighting now, because they want their way to stand out, and I Think, when it comes down to the masses, they're gonna tell you what they want, but they're quiet.

Speaker 1:

So like and just in in the spirit of this conversation with social media, it is more consumerist than ever. Yeah, so what I, the way I parse is there's a lot of content, very little redemptive storytelling that actually transforms people. I joke, like you know, I I don't really. I don't experience any kind of epiphany when I watch a dude bent pressing a cat shirtless or a chicken yoga pass, like fending down To reach the lowest shelf. That's content, but like where you know where's the inspiration and all of that.

Speaker 3:

What are you trying to tell? Well, oh, I've come up with a saying now that I'm using. I should get a shirt that says it's story, not glory. It's all about story. We're all storytellers, no matter what we do humans to contact, to connect with somebody else, you're telling the story. And if you don't tell that story right or if it's not interesting, nobody cares. And it's not about look, I did this. I Mean there's a few artists that I go Stuff on this wall, but it's hard. Okay, it's not my taste, but it's hard, and just take it for that.

Speaker 1:

Well equate with. They just may not have much to say in the world, you know, yeah, so I let some people off the hook. Yeah, exactly, I feel like it's actually admirable if somebody has a love of a given genre or format. They have a love of craft and they just want to put food on the table and roofs overheads and they're a cog in a machine. It's awesome. But it's a different category when you actually have something to say in the world, right?

Speaker 3:

I can't go out and say this is this, is it's magnificent, this piece of art work. You know, it's like, you know, splattering paint on a canvas without any knowledge.

Speaker 1:

Seems like the legacy right. They want to accomplish some kind of legacy maybe you know which is important to all of us.

Speaker 3:

But what's the story you're trying to tell? Like you said, it's legacy. So they want legacy? Great, but make sure that people know that it's not just there to be there.

Speaker 1:

Well, in story I would say, there's kind of a grandstanding. That can happen, yeah, but it's it's ego, I mean. I think life comes down to love or ego, right?

Speaker 3:

So a story is usually told by one person. Once it gets into two people, it becomes something else. Three people becomes even more for and we've had experiences working in a studio.

Speaker 1:

Hold another animal like collaborative, yeah, storytelling. Hold another animal. And if?

Speaker 3:

you get two people that have similar thoughts, that's great, but when you are working with a mass of people and I worked on a show called neighbors from hell, where it was a show that was picked up by Dreamworks and I hope I'm getting this right it was picked up by Dreamworks. Bento box hadn't quite started yet. It was Phil Roman stars. They were leaving, breaking away and trying to get their own things, so so it was bento box, dreamworks, they called it. Jeffrey called in like CBS or somebody, and it was going to be played on Warner's some Warner station, so we had all those people.

Speaker 1:

I Lot of hounds in the soup. Right we were doing it was a mess. That's what I'm saying. It was a full. You had to be having the constitution to be directed by committee.

Speaker 3:

And then what have to have a set of rules that you start off with and there are shared vision? Yeah, there are no.

Speaker 1:

What we would do at Disney. Tell me if you remember this, like if you're not on the same page and you don't share a vision, or at least have really long conversations and make sure Everybody's on the same page. You just when? I don't know Jeffrey it used to be Jeffrey, then Michael Eisner and when the higher-ups came in and you hadn't shown him anything, and then they're like well, wait, why are these animals and boosties? Why did you spend three years developing animals and boosties? Or you just Fire the director and ruin their career?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and then put fresh blood on the project and revitalize it or have a character get scared and shit on the stage. Do you remember?

Speaker 1:

that one, yes, I get it, but like let's show it in progress so it doesn't blindside the higher.

Speaker 3:

Now that's, that's something you go, yeah, no no, it's out, it's out. That's awesome, you know.

Speaker 1:

You All right. I thought that was a good place to end it. I Felt like the episode was a really good balance of kind of Industry stories, war stories from in the trenches and inspiration. I Think the really valuable part of the conversation in all cases was the discussions about the intersection between art and commerce. It's as old as time, so thank you again to Ed shanti and Vicho, and To our listeners I'm gonna say please do subscribe to this podcast wherever you listen to your podcasts and and subscribe to our YouTube channel as well. There's additional content on there that is inspiring as well. And, as always, I'm gonna wrap up this episode by saying remember, life is Story and we can get our hands in the clay, individually and collectively. We can write our own story. See you next time.

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