August 14, 2015 posted by

UPDATE: “Cartoon Carnival: The Documentary”

In my last Cartoon Research post, I shared some exciting news about my newest Blu-ray project, Cartoon Roots: The Bray Studios—Animation Pioneers. Amazingly, the Kickstarter campaign to help fund this release has been a success! If you have not yet looked at the project, now’s a good time to do so. Also, I recently promised more fun news for everyone, and am happy to finally share it with readers.

Left to right: David Graham Hicks, Paul Dingwall, Andrew T. Smith and TJS. (photo by Laz Stathes)

Left to right: David Graham Hicks, Paul Dingwall, Andrew T. Smith and TJS. (photo by Laz Stathes)

Back in December, you may recall that Andrew T. Smith and I launched a very special project; Cartoon Carnival: The Documentary. Fundraising was a success, and I’m happy to report that production of the film has been a really fun process. Andrew is in England and I’m in New York City, so most of our planning and collaboration has to be done online or by phone. In Andrew’s homeland, so far, famed film historian and preservation Kevin Brownlow has been interviewed for the film, as has Peter Lord of Aardman Animations:

In May, Andrew’s production team flew out to New York and conducted interviews with notable figures in our field, such as Howard Beckerman and Mark Newgarden. All of these sessions were fantastic, and one of my favorite moments was hosting a 16mm Cartoon Carnival screening event that was also documented for the film. We had a packed house for a program consisting entirely of silent-era cartoon–and the experience was further heightened by the live musical accompaniment of Cartoon Research contributor and ragtime pianist Charlie Judkins. It was a very special evening, to say the least.

Without further ado, we now have an exciting new teaser trailer for the film!

And, *exclusively* for Cartoon Research readers, here’s a never-before-shared clip of Howard Beckerman telling us a bit about Paul Terry’s early history, and how Howard began working for Terry as a high school graduate in 1949.

TJS and Paul Dingwall (photo credit: Laz Stathes)

TJS and Paul Dingwall (photo credit: Laz Stathes)

On a more personal note, it’s still difficult for me to believe this project has come together and gotten off the ground. Within film history studies, and even animation history studies, silent-era animation has long been given little attention in comparison with Golden Age animation or silent film in general, for example, and there have been many understandable reasons for this. The fact that this film is happening and many generous souls around the world have pitched in to make it a reality means a lot to me. The cliché “If you build it, they will come” seems appropriate right about now.

All bias aside, Andrew Smith and his team have been an absolute pleasure to work with, and I think the good vibes surrounding the documentary lend themselves to that fact–in addition to all the fun content and information we’re covering in the film.

Throughout the process of recording interviews as well as gathering film clips and complete cartoons to use in the project, it has become clear that we can do a bit more with the film than we originally imagined. More opportunities have surfaced, and we’ve found that more illustrative film material can be included. As a result of this, the decision was made to create a second crowd funding campaign to raise some extra cash so we can make at least some of these desired additions to the film.

To be clear, there’s already a sufficient amount of material to produce the film as planned–so this second “flex funding” campaign is simply a way to expand the film, while offering more chances for people to help the project and pre-order DVDs when they were unable to do so during the first funding campaign, or because they had not heard about the project until recently. Naturally, we’re grateful for all the continued support, and we’ll have more news about the film in coming weeks.

In the meantime, be sure to “Like” Cartoon Carnival: The Documentary on Facebook!


1 Comment

  • Glad to hear that this project is coming along well!

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