From da Zone comes a report on BRAD BIRD getting his Texas Avery Award!
Hey folks, Harry here -- There's a secret void that none would believe, and from there I pulled this report that Blake posted.
blake wrote:He also mentioned this one animated feature Tex Avery did where he on purpose put in a hair at the bottom of the film frame wiggling around through most of it. Projectionists typically see these and immediately try and blow or pull them out. Brad Bird was imagining all these pissed off projectionists trying for their lives to get this hair out, not realizing it was actually drawn there on purpose to look real. When they showed it, you could probably hearing them cursing in the booth not able to get rid of it. Suddenly one of the characters in the feature reaches down and pulls the hair out and gets rid of it.
Drew Taylor wrote:One movie we wondered about was a project he had been developing at Warner Bros. Feature Animation called "Ray Gunn," a traditionally animated movie he described as being "an action movie film noir with a sci-fi edge, but it was the future as imagined in the 1930's" at a recent special event at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. He doesn't rule out the possibility. "It's not like I can do them without Warner Bros.' cooperation, but I would say that regimes change and one of the nicest things about making movies is that hopefully you un-scare people," Bird said, about gaining the trust of the establishment. "There's a lot of fear in the movie industry because of the amount of money and resources that are involved and your goals are as elusive as what's going to entertain people of all different shapes and sizes. If you think about it in a logical way, it's an impossible job. You just kind of go forward and say, 'I'm going to make a movie that I want to see, and I hope people will join in'. [Then] I think you have a chance at doing something." He sounds optimistic, though. "Hopefully I've un-scared people about handling a live action film and I would dearly love to have more opportunities to make them."
Someone who was unafraid of what people would think was the dearly departed Steve Jobs, who funded Pixar in its early days (buying it away from George Lucas) and later sold it to Disney for unheard of amounts of money and stock options. Bird reflected on his relationship with Jobs: "I was just really grateful that I got to know him and work with a guy who is such a visionary. Talk about a guy who paid no heed to focus groups," Bird said. "He had done so many things that applied to both Apple and Pixar and it was all about not asking people what they want but showing them something that you think is great and believing that they're going to see it that way also." He said that working at Pixar when Jobs was still there was nothing more than miraculous. "I think that at any company you're very lucky to get to work with one visionary in your lifetime. But Pixar is this rare instance where there were three visionaries that collaborated – Steve, Ed Catmull, and John Lasseter. They're all visionaries in their own way and the fact that they got together, it's kind of like The Beatles. It was one of those things that happened almost by accident and was this rare perfect storm of creativity and I was very happy to get to know Steve. I have so much respect for him."
And what of Bird's former home? We wondered how involved is the director with the animation juggernaut, and he confirmed that he is still on the vaulted Brain Trust ("I try to make as many meetings as I can"), he gets there as much as he can but that he's not there everyday. Bird added: "I love that studio. I love those guys and working with them. As long as it's doable I'd like to keep doing it."
When we asked what the most promising sounding movie in development over at Pixar was, Bird joked, "I can't talk about it. You're trying to get me to divulge state secrets, under penalty of torture." But it was a segue into an interesting conversation about the nature of Pixar's ideas and how the commercial world views those ideas.
"If you explain the basics of any one of these ideas, they probably will sound as nutty as a cooking French rat or a silent film starring robots in a post-apocalyptic world," Bird said. "Each one of those films, when we were in preparation on them, the financial community said each one of them stunk and none of them had the ability to be a financial success. And then the film would come out and they'd go, 'Well, they did it that time but the next one sounds like a piece of crap.' " This is true. Everytime there's a new Pixar property coming out, whether it's "Up" or "WALL-E" or whatever, there's an accompanying Wall Street Journal ad questioning its ability to sell toys (watch, there'll be another one just before "Brave" opens this summer).
Bird went on: "The truth of the matter is Wall Street is only interested in you repeating yourself. If you want to do something that sounds a little odd, the financial community is all about a feeling of predictable success. And the only thing that fits that model is something similar to what you've done before. Everyone was very enthusiastic about Pixar doing 'Toy Story 3' but they weren't excited about the idea of 'Up.' So if I told you about the ideas of various Pixar films, you and I might get excited about them, but the financial community would say 'Oh that sounds crazy.' But that's probably why Pixar films are the way they are, because they're films that the storytellers are excited to be getting on the screen. They're not some sort of focus group. So because Pixar comes from a very pure place, it's why I'm interested in staying involved with them as long as I can."
Scott Thill wrote:Is Ratatouille director Brad Bird leaving feature animation? Not if Tom Cruise and Simon Pegg take their guns out of his face.
The moviemaker dropped a bombshell in his videotaped acceptance speech (embedded above) last weekend after he took home a Winsor McCay lifetime achievement honor from the controversial Annie Awards.
“My involvement in the world of animation … comes to an end today,” said Bird, who helmed such standout animated features as The Iron Giant and The Incredibles. “As much as I value my time spent dabbling in cartoons, I’ve moved onto bigger and, let’s face it, better things. I am of course talking about live action. If I’m honest with myself, it’s where I’ve always secretly wanted to be and, truth be told, I’m a lot happier for it. Compared with animation, live-action movie-making is a stress-free, care-free world of creativity without compromise.”
But Bird’s mechanical speech was quickly unmasked as one of the year’s most excellent pranks, once the camera panned out and revealed that Simon Pegg and Tom Cruise, stars of Bird’s first live-action film Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, were holding pistols to his head.
“Some say actors are paranoid that they might find themselves made obsolete by advances in animation technology, but that really is absurd,” Bird quaked. “If some nerd with a paintbrush or computer could replace the likes of award-winning international superstar Tom Cruise and the similarly award-winning British comedy genius Simon Pegg, such notions are absurd, and anyone that thinks that is an idiot and a communist.”
Ghost Protocol arrives this December and Bird’s second live-action film, 1906, is slated for release a year later. The animation industry might turn into a wasteland if Bird truly decided to stick to live-action film. Let us know in the comments section if you can imagine a toon universe without Bird’s singular vision.
You've laid the groundwork in The Incredibles for a more mature sort of animated film, but I haven't seen anything about what you have in mind for your next feature. Are you thinking of something that's more specifically adult than anything that's been done before, or is this simply too big a leap even now for animated films to make?
I don't know. It's never moved fast enough for me, and yet I can't complain, because the two films I've made are the films I wanted to make. The Iron Giant was a film where I was essentially given a completely dysfunctional unit and a very short amount of time to turn it around. I had nine months to prepare the film from my twelve-page outline to handing out scenes, with an animation department that was completely screwed up. We had half the time and a third of the money and a dysfunctional department, but there was a certain amount of freedom, too. They were shutting down the division as we were making the film, so, as long as we produced on time and on budget, we were left alone, which is a great advantage. And it turned out that there was a great deal of talent at the Warners feature animation division, it just needed to be completely reorganized.
I'm getting off the subject. Before Iron Giant, I spent years on projects that were too big a leap for investment people to make. I developed "The Spirit" for years. I had a project with Turner Animation called Ray Gunn, which was an animated film-noir science-fiction thing. It was funny and action-packed, but it was a little darker than most mainstream animated films, so it never got cleared for takeoff. I feel like Iron Giant was a step in the direction I wanted to go, in that it brought things like the Cold War in, and it didn't have songs, but it had a boy protagonist. Studio people could understand that, and there was the appeal of a giant robot. I feel like Incredibles was a little further step. I do think quality adult animation is going to happen, but I don't know how far you can push it. The further you want to push the stories, the lower your budget is going to have to be. If you accept that, in animation it means you have to give up certain the quality of the movement itself. It's not like a live-action film where you have to scale down the number of locations (although that can be affected, too). It's more about compromising how much your character actually moves and expresses itself. More expressivity—in hand-drawn, especially—means more drawings, means more money.
Harry wrote:The first film? Well, Brad Bird, who is wrapping up work on THE INCREDIBLES for Pixar is apparently going to be the goto guy on this to kick it all off. RAY GUNN!!! What is RAY GUNN? Here's what Moriarty gleamed from Brad Bird - 5 Years Ago!
What can you tell me about RAY GUNN, and is there any chance we'll ever see it?
Well, uh, I hope so. I think it could be a really great film. Essentially, for a long time I've believed that there is an audience for animation that Hollywood has been very slow in recognizing is there. The success of SIMPSONS and KING OF THE HILL say that there is an older audience for animation, but Hollywood tends to be very myopic, and it's change is slow. You can make the arguments for more distinctive, more adult animated projects on TV now, but you've still got all these preconceived notions to overcome trying to get it to features. IRON GIANT basically represents a halfway step for me between what Hollywood can understand about feature length character animation and where I think animation can go. It has enough of the stuff that Hollywood traditionally recognizes as being in a children's film, but hopefully we've been able to kind of squeeze some adult stuff in there in a way that doesn't put kids off. There was so much misinformation about RAY GUNN...
It was one of those projects that I kept hearing the name of over the years, so it's sort of taken on a life of its own if you know the animation community.
Well, it's two things that are hard to sell in Hollywood. Part of it is sort of film noir, even though to me it's only that in the surface details. Really, it's more of an action movie, and it had a substantial amount of comedy in it. I see it as being very mainstream, but Hollywood saw it as being almost experimental, like, "Whoa, what the heck is this?" In animation, you're always fighting against, "Well, that might upset a 5-year-old." My feeling is, "Well, then, the 5-year-old shouldn't go. Come on, can't we make some other things?" RAY GUNN was not it was PG, you know? Maybe PG-13.
http://www.awn.com/users/bdesowitz wrote: This year marks the 10th anniversary of Iron Giant (how time flies!) A week ago, ASIFA hosted a reunion with director Brad Bird and various crew members, so we thought we'd have our own celebration honoring his brilliant feature debut. We start off with an exclusive interview with the Oscar-winning director, followed next week by a crew reminiscence or two.
Bill Desowitz: How did you get involved with Iron Giant and what originally attracted you to the project?
Brad Bird: Iron Giant was brought to Warner Bros. by Pete Townsend of The Who, and Des McAnuff, who directed the stage version of Tommy. They wanted to do an animated musical. Pete had already done a musical adaptation of the original Ted Hughes story (The Iron Man) for the stage play as well as an album based on those songs.
I was at Turner developing Ray Gunn when Warners and Turner merged. Warners had even less interest in Ray Gunn than Turner did, and since there was three months left on my Turner contract, Warners asked me if I was interested in any of the projects they already had in development. They had a ridiculous number of projects "in development," but I picked three to read and one of them was Iron Giant.
I'd read the Ted Hughes book and loved it for its poetic simplicity... but I also had some new ideas of my own on what the film could be about. I'm a huge fan of Pete Townshend's work, but I really didn't see Giant as an animated musical. The meat of the story, to me, was the relationship between this little boy and the Giant. My main problem with the book was that it veered away from that relationship about halfway through, and became a contest between the Giant and this Giant Space Bat flying back and forth to the sun.
I came back to Warner Bros., said I was interested in IG, but wanted to a go a different direction with it. Then I asked them: "What if a gun had a soul and didn't want to be a gun?"
That kind of stuck with them, so I went further and pitched them my new storyline. Rather than setting the film in a timeless England, I wanted to set the film in America in 1957-- at the height of the Cold War. I added the beatnik character Dean and the government character Kent Mansley and the army and such-- none of which are in the book.
The Maine setting looks Norman Rockwell idyllic on the outside , but inside everything is just about to boil over; everyone was scared of the bomb, the Russians, Sputnick-- even rock and roll. This clenched Ward Cleaver smile masking fear (which is really what the Kent character was all about). It was the perfect environment to drop a 50- foot-tall robot into.
BRAD BIRD wrote:Listen, Warner Bros. and I have danced on and off for the last decade. There was going to be a 5-year-thing; there was talk about it being in 3D at one point. Then there was talk about reformatting it for IMAX or whatever. Discussions keep happening, but I think something will happen fairly soon. They know that people have a fondness for it. They don’t know exactly how to deal with that beyond maybe a Blu-ray or something like that. And I keep saying, “You know, you did it for Wizard of Oz and you did it for Blade Runner. I think you actually can do it.” And I think they’re kind of coming around to that idea. I’m trying to find the best way to support something like that.
Burbank, CA, July 8, 2015 – Warner Bros. Pictures is proud to announce that the animated action adventure “The Iron Giant” will be re-released this fall, remastered and enhanced with two all-new scenes as “The Iron Giant: Signature Edition.” It will be released in theaters for a limited engagement through Fathom Events. “The Iron Giant: Signature Edition” arrives to theaters for a special event screening on Wednesday, September 30 at 7:00PM local time, with an encore event in select markets on Sunday, October 4 at 12:00PM local time.
Following the re-release of the film in theaters, a high-definition version of “The Iron Giant: Signature Edition” will be available to purchase from digital retailers in the fall of 2015.
I have been very lucky to have played so many interesting characters… one of the first and one of my favorites is… the Iron Giant.
P.s. Don’t be surprised when you hear WB announce the sequel.
Beatrice Verhoeven wrote:Tartakovsky’s comments are surprising, as both films starring Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Selena Gomez, Steve Buscemi and David Spade have grossed an estimated $200 million thus far domestically, and the sequel has been in release a total of four days. But Tartakovsky wants to focus on other projects, such as the animated film “Can You Imagine?”
What happened with “Popeye?”
We made a version that we were happy with, and the studio didn’t like that version. It’s still a mystery for me that they didn’t like that version. They wanted to do “Popeye” for the brand recognition and I loved the character and grew up with it, so there was a tug of war. They wanted it really updated, and I can only update it a little before it isn’t “Popeye” anymore. To be truthful, it was in the middle of the Sony hack and the studio was really struggling. It was just really bad timing.
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