On December 23, 1935, Walt Disney wrote an eight page letter to a gentleman named Don Graham at the Chouinard Art Institute (now Cal Arts) asking him to help train new, and improve old, Disney animators. Walt felt that many of the men he employed weren’t working up to their potential and that by focusing on a few simple things, the studio’s output would improve exponentially. Well, after this letter, the studio released – in order – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo and Bambi. So, it seemed to have worked.
The letter is a fascinating look into the genius mind of Walt Disney, as it details the unique way he looked at movies, humor, drawing, running a company and much more. He details the minutia – such as body type and rhythm of movement – of animation and implores animators not to ignore these incredibly important things. Animators, or just fans of Disney, should really enjoy this. Check out scans of the letter and link to the full transcript after the break. Read More »
Below the break are the first installments of The Frogumentary, my videoblog from Walt Disney Animation Studios. It takes us behind the scenes of Disney’s The Princess and the Frog and the studio’s return to hand drawn animation. If you, like me, live in the UK, today’s the day the movie opens nationwide for you and, not to put too fine a point on it, I can’t really recommend it enough.
You may choose to watch all of the videoblog installments in order, and get an overview of the entire production pipeline for a modern hand-drawn animation movie, or you may choose to watch only the chapters that particularly interest you. After the break are the first two episodes. I hope you’ll agree that they push to go places that typical DVD supplements or TV coverage of movies don’t.
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Remember when Disney characters were allowed characters to smoke on film? I thought we’d follow up Ressemblance, the video which compiles the many recycled animated sequences from Disney history with Walt’s Ashes, a compilation of smoking scenes from the animation studio’s classic films. Watch the video after the jump.
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Happy Birthday to the world’s most famous animated mouse – Mickey Mouse. Walt Disney‘s Steamboat Willie premiered on November 18th 1928 at the Broadway Theater.
In the new issue of Zoetrope, Francis Ford Coppola’s slept-on literary magazine, John Hughes has written an elegant and amusing foreword to his short story, “Vacation ’58,’ which became the classic road-trip comedy National Lampoon’s Vacation. It’s a whirlwind tale, with Hollywood quietly snapping up the rights, and Hughes, to his amazement, finding himself adapting the screenplay, suddenly outfitted with the sine quibus non of show biz.
“This was all happening during Hollywood’s post-Shampoo era of gold chains, red Ferraris, and big sideburns. As a print humorist—envisioning myself as Chicago’s Booth Tarkington Jr.—I willfully knew nothing of show business. …When I arrived at the incipient powerhouse Creative Artists Agency in my poplin suit and rep tie, I was mistaken for an IRS agent. Despite my contrastive definition of hip, I passed the audition and got the Agent and the requisite accessory, the Lawyer.”
Hughes discusses switching out the short story’s Walt Disney for the film’s Roy Walley, a blatant and arguably more effective knockoff. The gig also marked his first encounter with infamous test audiences. It resulted in a new ending for the film, one he still favors less than the original…
“…the ending—was thoroughly despised by preview audiences. Roy Walley and his executive committee dancing and singing with neckties on their heads and Clark W. Griswold heading off to jail was better on paper. I was hired again for a rewrite, and I wrote my first happy ending. I preferred the original and still do, but the rewrite gave me an introduction to John Candy, with whom I would eventually match the coherence of cruelty, sorrow, disappointment, and farce that underpinned ‘Vacation ’58.’”
If you’re interested in the history of American comedy and/or a fan of the film, this is a must read. The republished short story is only available in the print edition—the issue was designed by Devo’s Mark Motherbaugh, cool—but Hughes’s entire foreword is now online.
via Alex Blagg
Discuss: Is National Lampoon’s Vacation the best road-trip comedy? If not, what is?
Who Votes? As of 2007, 5,830 industry professionals accounted for the voting membership. Actors make up the largest voting block, with a membership total of 1,311.
I want to join! Academy membership can only be obtained by a competitive nomination or a member nomination.
It’s not an Oscar! The official name of the golden statue is the Academy Award of Merit.
Then Why is it called an Oscar? Bette Davis claims she named the statuette after her first husband, bandleader Harmon Oscar Nelson.
What is that thing? The statuette depicts an Art Deco stylized knight holding a crusader’s sword standing on a reel of 35mm film with five spokes, which is supposed to signify the original branches of the Academy: Actors, Writers, Directors, Producers and Technicians.
You can’t buy an Oscar! Since 1950 the statuettes have been “legally encumbered” by the requirement that neither winners nor their heirs may sell the statuettes without first offering to sell them back to the Academy for $1. If an Academy Award winner refuses to agree to this stipulation, then the Academy keeps the statuette. Academy Awards earned prior to this agreement have been sold in public auctions for six figure price-tags.
Does my film qualify? A movie has to open in the previous calendar year (from midnight at the start of January 1 to midnight at the end of December 31) in Los Angeles, California.
Most Nominated: Walt Disney holds the record with 22 wins, and 4 honorary. He was nominated for 64 Academy Awards in all. Composers John Williams and Alfred Newman have 45 nominations each.
Oldest: 80-year-old Jessica Tandy won for Driving Miss Daisy. 87-year-old Gloria Stuart was nominated for Titanic.
Youngest: 10-year-old Tatum O’Neal won for Paper Moon. 8-year-old Justin Henry was nominated for Kramer vs. Kramer.
Longest Standing Ovation: Charlie Chaplin in 1972.
Movie studios are strictly prohibited from advertising movies during the broadcast. Isn’t that ironic?
In 1981, the Academy Awards were delayed for one day, due to the shooting of President Ronald Reagan.
Citizen Kane was nominated for nine Oscars but only won one (Best Original Screenplay).
James Dean was killed in a traffic accident in 1955, but was nominated in 1956 for East of Eden and in 1957 for Giant.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is the only Fantasy film to win Best Picture.
Movies that won all 5 top awards (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay): It Happened One Night, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and The Silence of the Lambs.
Bad Best Pictures: The following Best Picture winners have a rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes: The Greatest Show on Earth (38%), Cimarron (36%), The Broadway Melody (42%), and Cavalcade (55%).