November 17, 2004

Learn From Others Mistakes

Ward Jenkins from Primal Screen wrote me a very nice note about my blog. In his note he said this:

"I really appreciate your honesty as well as your ability to share what you've learned throughout the years with a faceless crowd."

This made me wonder why am I sharing all this stuff anyway? I mean what did I have to gain? Was there something to loose? I had to think about it for a while, and I even thought about canceling the blog. But then I think I came to my conclusion.

Several years ago I was frustrated with the direction my career was going. I'm one of those people who believe that if you work hard at something you'll eventually get rewarded. I had just spent a year working hard at something to watch it blow up in my face. I was frustrated and annoyed. What annoyed me most was when I tried to explain this to friends and family they just didn't seem to get it.

Then a thought occurred to me: I can't be the only person in history to have gone through all this. I didn't invent animation, animation has been around for years, surely someone else has gone though this. How did they handle it? Were they smarter then me? Could I learn from them?

So I started to seek out and find all the animation history books that I can find. I try and avoid all the studio driven books in lieu of the animator biographys. The personal insight is what I look for, but sometimes you cant avoid it. From that point on I've become an Animation History nut. From what I've read, very little has changed about the industry, even with computers in the equation.

The book that helped me the most was How To Succeed In Animation by Gene Deitch. I'm a huge UPA fan. I just love the style. Mr Deitch published this book only on line, but I recomend it. It's a great read.

Other books I like are:

Talking Animals and Other People by Shamus Culhane (if you read that you should also read his other book Animation from Script to Screen)

Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in Its Golden Age by Michael Barrier

Chuck Amuck by Chuck Jones

Walt Disney's Nine Old Men and the Art of Animation by John Canemaker

But to understand the industry animation was in you should also read:

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls by Peter Biskind


Keys to the Kingdom by Kim Masters

I'm sure I'm missing a few, but those were at the top of my list.


Jerrie said...

And besides your writing is nice. Good, concise expression which is what makes a blog.

Ward Jenkins said...

Yes, your experiences can be beneficial for others to take in and learn from them. It's very fascinating to read about how the various members of the Nine Old Men got their starts within the industry. It's some great reading. I, too, got into reading about artist/animators' biographies and how they got started in this industry.

One good one (and fully illustrated!) is Bill Peet: An Autobiography. He was a writer/story man for Disney and went out and did his own thing with children's books.

Also for some good laughs: Walt Disney and Assorted Other Characters by Jack Kinney. Another story man and eventually director (mostly the Goofy shorts) for the Big Mouse back in the hey day. Very funny stuff about the artists and animators working there.

I haven't read this one, but would like to order it: Faster! Cheaper!: The Flip Side to the Art of Animation by Floyd Norman. He did a second book: Son of Faster Cheaper: A Sharp Look at the Business Of Animation. Both are supposed to be a very funny look at the state of animation today. (okay, they're not really autobiographies, but at least they're books....)

And thanks for the nod, Ethan. I appreciate it.

Keep this up. It's a great blog.