Before I commence with the usual (as of late anyway) ‘rambling’, if you are in or anywhere near Michigan this weekend, as a true animation affectionato, you have an obligation to attend the Cinetopia film festival’s Disney screenings. Even through I run a little video company, as you know, I’m a huge fan of running actual film print, and the same is true for the Redford Theater’s programmer John Monahan, who worked hard to make sure the showings were on film as much as possible. It can’t be stressed enough how much rarer it is now to see film actually projected- especially classic films out here in Michigan.
Friday Night at 8PM, the Redford Theatre is screening Fantasia, from a rare 35mm Technicolor print! This print of course is the version shown in the 60s & 70s, with Deems Taylor’s actual voice. Fantasia looks like a different film in an actual Technicolor print. More info click here.
On Saturday, the Redford theatre presents a program of classic Disney shorts, including rare Oswald cartoons, hosted by Leonard Maltin. I helped curate the program, along with David Gerstein and John Monahan. I’m thrilled that we’re showing mostly 35mm film prints- with thanks to Disney! More info click here.
On Saturday at 8pm, the Redford is showing Lady and the Tramp, from a stunning 1972 IB Technicolor/Cinemascope print. http://www.cinetopiafestival.org/show/lady-and-the-tramp/
On Sunday, The Michigan Theatre in Ann Arbor will host Leonard Maltin and animator Andreas Deja for a showing of the Ty Wong Documentary, Tyrus. This showing is at 1pm. At 4pm, the Michigan will be showing Bambi as well.
It’s been a dubbing festival here at Thunderbean, along with working on menus for one friend’s project, finishing mastering still for another, some editing for another, animating for another, and cleaning up some Cubby Bear. Sigh. I’m a little worried the whole summer will be like this.
Some quick, random notes and thoughts that I’ll remain slightly cryptic on:
1. I predict that the 1920s Felix the Cat cartoons will, at some point, have a more serious evaluation, since they will be more accessible. Out of the 155 or so produced, only about 60 are more common- leaving the majority of the films produced in the series rarely seen. That’s all I say for now.
2. For the record, there were more than a few Flip the Frogs made in color. And they exist. Just saying.
3. Nitrate really isn’t all that scary – unless you’re smoking next to it or leaving a shed full of it outside in a shed in Michigan for 40 years with rusted cans. Bad choice.
4. Empty 35mm film reels are not worth $40 each. When a collector tells you that they are, it’s not even worth asking how much that print of ‘Honest Love and True’ in 35mm Nitrate will go for. If he really has it. If he had ‘Getting His Nanny’ in color or ‘Benny the Bear in a Cowboy I Would Be’ I would honestly buy those $40 reels without complaint.
A collector who lent me some of the recent films I’ve borrowed commented that he’s less interested in releases of stuff that’s already available (just upgraded to Blu-ray) and more interested in the stuff that *hasn’t* been released… and his comment was that the films he wants to see probably won’t EVER be released. Maybe it’s a bit of a pipe dream to hope to get all the stuff I’d like to release out, but if I’m successful, at least we’ll see *some* stuff that hasn’t been around. At this moment, there are 16 projects that are in some form of with moving forward here-some with Public Domain materials, but most not. I wanted to get six titles done last year but of course didn’t get anywhere near that….We’re on track to finish five titles this year, so that’s an improvement!
In this particular line of work, I’m finding that the key to making any of the projects happen is cooperation combined with some helpful sleuthing. There’s a better chance of a company not knowing what they have or ways to put it together than actually having some idea. Still, it can be amazingly frustrating to see possible deals not happen for all sorts of reasons – and then it becomes easier to understand why others haven’t attempted to this.
One deal just isn’t happening yet because the owner of the material will rarely return a call or email. When he does, it’s positive.. then… nothing. I wonder what will happen when it comes to actually opening the vault or looking at the original materials, if that ever happens! Another license deal is for a film that is owned by a publisher that in itself is a subsidiary of a larger company that owns broadcasting companies. They’ve said they’d be fine making a deal for the film, but can’t find the paperwork related to it! This one has been on a hanger for a year and a half now. If the paperwork can’t be found, I wonder if the negative or any other materials will ever be.
Another project (trying to track down Linus the Lionhearted rights) ended up going in a gigantic corporate circle, with one part of the former part of the other company not sure who had what rights, and moreover *if* rights could even be available. One piece of the company thought they had the 35mm material in their possession, but it turned out to be a list of the holdings of the lab they material had been in. Funny enough, the sheet said the material was ‘returned’… but to who we don’t know! This one seems to have reached a dead end at this point, sadly- although I did find out that the model sheet of Sugar Bear is specifically owned by Nestle somehow.
The summer is the best time for me to be in pursuit of all this odd stuff, if I can just get the other things cleared off the plate so I can get back to them. Cubby Bear is coming closer to being out the door, and I honestly can’t wait- because it means jumping onto the Iwerks/ Flip the Frog animated tribute project (more on this soon!)
Ok – enough rambling and onto a cartoon!
Since this is a rambling post, a strange cartoons entry in appropriate.
Here is Len Lye’s Peanut Vendor experimental animated short from 1933. Len Lye of course was famous for his experimental animated films, including the classic
A Colour Box (1935) (clips of this short are here):
..and a clip from his classic Free Radicals (1958):
Lye’s work was heavily influential to brilliant Canadian filmmaker Norman McLaren.
Here is McLaren’s Boogie Doodle from 1948:
Michael Sporn had a wonderful post on his Splog about Len Lye years back – and it’s amazing and wonderful that his posts are up and still available.
Len’s Peanut Vendor short was, in all likelihood, never meant to be seen by the general public. It’s just a test film, without real titles- and the surviving print abruptly ends. My guess is that Lye produced this test film to get stop motion work. His vision is unintentionally the stuff of nightmares, featuring a creepy Monkey made of pipe cleaners. The common version of this was transferred from a 16mm print rented from Select Films in the early 90s. I did a film chain on the print way back then, and haven’t found a better print yet, though someday would love to get the original 35mm held at the new Zealand film archives. Thanks to Ken and Janet Preibe for putting this up:
Have a good week everyone!