Thursday, February 5, 2009

Inherit The Windy Day

The post about The Hole and Michael Sporn's insightful comment on Ian Lumsden's reminded me of anecedote from my early days of production.

It's important to keep in mind when I talk about the 20th Century that I really knew absolutely nothing about animation. Even less, believe or not, than I do now.

Somehow I found myself responsible for the production of various high budget commercials and low budget short films. As such some extraordinarily talented and experienced artists were in my "supervision".

One of these artists had a reputation for being, uh, difficult. All of the other production artists, production co-ordinators, interns, everybody was more than a little afraid of her. The thing is, Sarah Calogero was a magician. That's not fair, or true, she was an artist. She could do things no one else could and had skills with Cartoon Color that no one else approached.

Every night I would take home a VHS tape from the library -that was my crash course.

After a couple weeks I knew what animation was supposed to look like. That was when I brought home "Windy Day".

This was something very differant. These were simple line drawings, or goofy characters, or designy abstraction -this picture was beautiful. How did they do it?

So I watched it again. In the credits "Production Art: Sarah Calogero".

The next day, I poked my head into her office and sheepishly called her name. You could feel her thinking (rightfully) "Why don't you leave me alone so I can finish this, you imbecile?". So I said, "I was watching 'Windy Day' and I saw that you worked on it. It's amazing. How did you do it?"

Immediately she relaxed. She brightened even, talking about John Hubley and the animators at his studio. "John," she said (she and Tissa are the only people I've heard refer to him as "John"), "was always trying new things." Unfortunately, I didn't know what she was talking about -so I don't remember what she said. Reconstructing the conversation in my head, I think she said a lot of it was double exposure (although looking at it appears to have been bottom-lit, she was probably referring to some of the earlier films in comparision).

Several years later I saw a few original pieces of art at Academy of Motion Pictures in Hollywood. The marker had faded and bled deeply into the paper.

That conversation conjured a deep affection from Sarah, she had such a reverance for Hubley. I would regularly ask her how she did things -or had done things in the past and she never anything but kind and generous to me.

At the time, I may not have understood how these films were made. I may have thought I was supremely unqualified for my position. There was a more important quality that I didn't even know I had which happened to make me OK at running productions.

1 comment:

Michael Sporn said...

In many ways this is my favorite Hubley short. It is definitely bottom lit, though there are some double exposures done during the dragon/cave sequence. Barry Nelson's animation is probably some of the best he's ever done.
And I say this as a fan, liking everything he's ever done.