Monday, October 22, 2007

Jake and Jane Henson

Jane Henson and myself (sporting my Wheezer/Muppet shirt)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Jane Henson's Advice


"Make sure you make it your own," she said, in reference to the artwork that will be used in the doc, "Who IS Jim Henson?" which I'm trying to produce. "Don't use his drawings, but be influenced BY them. Because you're a young go-getter filmmaker and there's no need to tie you up in legal copyright problems."

I was at the Henson Carriage House last night for a small event and I got a chance to talk about the project with a few other people. Said Fran Brill: "What an original concept! It sounds great." Bonnie Erickson also liked the sound of it. Craig Shemin seemed more interested in my new Animation Supervisor, Pilar Newton. Pilar has been in the NY animation industry for 11 years, is a huge muppet fan, AND has been friends with Heather Henson since her days at RISD. Of all things, she and Craig were talking about their common ground working on "Courage the Cowardly Dog."

My main contact, Aruthur Novell, who invited me to the house last night, is the Executive Director of the Jim Henson Legacy. He says he appreciates my efforts and adds, "Not to worry, you are moving in the right direction."

So I personally gave all the aforementioned people a copy of the video pitch and the written prospectus, and I'll find out what they discuss. I'm also officially incomunicato with Heather Henson, who I'll be talking with after her busy week is over.

In addition to local animators, I'm emailing other Sesame Street animators - people who have been contributing their unique style since, say, 1982.

And I met with an experienced friend to discuss the prospect of applying for grants. The process sounds hard and gruelling and filled with red-tape ... but I've managed my screwy bill with the Cable Company for a while, so I'm looking forward to the challenge.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Will I Write the Art Babbitt biography?

Ever since my first Animation Magazine article promoting women in the NY animation industry, I had wanted two things: First, to write for AWN.com; and Second, to make steps towards writing a book on the subject of animation.

Nearly a year ago, author John Culhane recommended me highly to Barbara Babbitt, widow of the late great Art Babbitt, when she said she wanted someone to write the biography of her husband. Art Babbitt was many things, but history will remember him mostly by being a master golden-age Disney animator who risked (perhaps sacrificed) his career to lead the infamous Disney strike of 1941. Since last autumn, I've talked and corresponded with Barbara on many occasions, I've interviewed some people, I've garnered input from Jerry Beck and John Canemaker, and I've gathered some research material online. Still, it's one huge undertaking, especially for a young pro trying to make rent in New York City.

Unbeknownst to me, Ron Daimond, a founder of AWN.com is tight with Barbara, and he called me up yesterday. I had contacted him about submitting Stoned Wheat to his "Animation Show of Shows," but he wanted to talk about the Babbitt Bio. He said he sees several big projects coming out of this, not just one book, and that there are several hundred hours needed to interview Barbara and folks like Bill Melendez and other prominent people of Animation History who knew Art and are all situated on the west coast.

There are few people on this side who worked with Art later in life, like Michael Sporn, who had talked to me in-depth about Art when i was interviewing him for "aNYmator." But Ron insisted I hold off on any further work on the Babbitt Bio until we gather a game plan and organize our efforts. After all, while I can only donate spare time to the project with my limited funds, Ron and his team can back it up with tens of thousands of dollars - not to mention their brand new AWN publishing company. At the end of the day: more pro's are jumping on, and I'm going to help however possible but I'm glad I'm not responsible for a solo mission.

Regarding Ron Daimond, he suggested that I might want to start contributing to AWN's new blogspot site. Cool, eh?! I haven't blogged like that since I was a freelancer for toon producer Fred Seibert and his website, Channel Frederator.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Jim Henson Doc update

Earlier this week I got a phone call - the directors of the Jim Henson Legacy are interested in pursuing my animated Jim Henson Documentary further. Jane Henson herself gave it the thumbs up. Right now I'm collecting a staff, drawing up a budget, and I have meetings coming up with Henson people.

One of the people now interested is Candy Kugel, whom I interviewed last year. She's one of the longest-running NY indie animators and one of the heads of Buzzco Associates, having created the Moon MTV spots, not to mention memorable Sesame Street sequences, like "It's Hip to Be a Square."

Monday, October 8, 2007

"Who IS Jim Henson?"

Who IS Jim Henson is a proposed documentary I intend to produce. In a word, it's a collection of anecdotes about Jim animated in Jim's drawing style. Last week I was on the phone with the director of the Jim Henson Legacy, the branch of the Henson company that deals with museum exhibits, tributes, and anything else commemorative. When we left it, he was going to share the Video Pitch to the executive director of the legacy, and I volunteered to write up a new, formal Written Pitch. Stay tuned for the outcome.
If you are interested in helping out with the project, please contact me!