Mar 25, 2006

Bits & Pieces

Christmas in March-the Moore family card, date unknown

Due to circumstances beyond my control I wasn't able to go to the UPA event at the Egyptian theater tonight; a major letdown as I'm sure that that particular assortment of shorts won't be around again. I'd seen "Tell-Tale Heart" plenty of times but that "Man Alive!" short I posted the storyboard drawing for here isn't a common one. Also missed the panels with the veterans of the studio and apparently some behind the scenes footage(always a big favorite with me). Shucks.
So, apropos of nothing other than that it's unusual and neat, here's one of Fred Moore's Christmas cards up.
I just got an email from Michael Barrier, in answer to one where I'd asked him about Fred Moore's brief (but influential) employment for Walter Lantz in 1947. He mentions that Fred worked on the opening credits of "The Egg and I", a Universal film(also, of course, Lantz' employer). Funny thing; on a shelf in my studio is a well-worn book, one of the few I've saved from my mother's library, and one of my all-time favorites: "The Egg and I".
So incredibly popular was author Betty MacDonald's account of her disastrous first marriage and early life on a remote chicken farm that a major motion picture was rushed into production almost immediately, starring Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray. And Fred Moore worked on the credit sequence? I've been a fan and aficionado of Betty MacDonald as long as I have of Fred Moore; never in my wildest dreams did I imagine they might be professionally connected, however about six degrees of separation.

Main title card from "The Egg and I"

And last but hardly least, I was pleased to be one of a party at lunch last week with a guy I much admire (but hadn't met until then), Clay Kaytis, whose Animation Podcast is a model for and a forerunner of an increasing number of spectacular animation info sites. He did it first and he continues to do it well; it was exciting to hear about what's coming up very soon on the Podcast. Big, big exciting guests.
So if you don't already--go subscribe.
Clay is a natural historian...what he's doing is incredibly important for our industry and the history of film. That sounds grandiose, I know, but it's true. And what's especially satisfying is that this has started a trend where the interviewer is now sometimes also a currently working animator and artist. Think for a moment: for all the excellent and much-needed scholarship that's been done to date, how much of it was done by artists? The answer is, virtually none. The reason is--animation is so bloody labor intensive. When the day is done there aren't many hours left, and so to be able, as Clay has done and others, to do something like contacting, interviewing and then podcasting....that's deserving of a big note of thanks. So, thanks, Clay.

And finally, here's something that's of a piece with the screen shots in the earlier post. On the same recent DVD release as "The Reluctant Dragon" is a wonderful short shot for RKO exhibitors, to promote "Snow White" before its release. It's basically a tour of the old Disney Hyperion studio. At one point we see--who else?--Fred Moore showing the camera how he draws Mickey Mouse; he's doing it with what looks like a china marker(the better to show up on film where a 2B wouldn't, we're told), and what's really tantalizing, he's clearly gabbing away during the shot...what do you suppose he's saying as he draws? We'll never know. I also think it's interesting to see Fred's ultra-casual attire at Hyperion, for (mostly) private view; at the bigger, shinier Buena Vista studio, coats and ties became de riguer--even off camera. I've been told that Hyperion had no air conditioning in the animators' rooms, so maybe the dress code was looser for practical reasons, too, at the older location.


Anonymous said...

Interesting to see Freddy drawing with the china marker. Big, bold and easy to read. When this kid was brought into Disney's story department many years ago, it was the only pencil I was allowed to use. It seems the "Old Man" wanted us to keep our drawings simple, and using the china marker made sure of that.

Thanks for posting all the Freddy stuff. He was my hero.

Clay Kaytis said...

Such flattering words! I thank you so much Jenny. It was great to finally meet you after reading your blog so much. I wanted to comment sooner, but felt that it might be a little too self-aggrandizing to jump on it so quick, but I do appreciate the support immensely. Keep up the fantastic work. I enjoy reading all your posts.

Tim said...

Hello there. I'm working on a project on the history of chicken ranches in the Puget Sound area and, uhm, golly, The Egg and I will have a small part of that. (This history may turn into an article on chicken ranches on the West Coast—watch for it in a travel magazine near you sometime next year.)

I ran across your blog in looking for art to illustrate a presentation I'm doing this afternoon and was amused: I think you are probably one of the few who will admit these days to having read the book and enjoying it! I'm also amused because I grew up in Canyon Country, worked at the Newhall Signal and saw that you attended CalArts. Excellent!

Good luck in your endeavors and, if you are ever in Seattle and want to know more about egg ranching....