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Walt Disney as teacher and film-maker


Working with Walt Disney: 'You want to see the frog?'
Jules Engel Film-maker
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And also, I got to know Walt a little better. Because I mentioned that some of the guys… anyway, there was a frog in the sequence and I wanted the frog not to be seen. I wanted the frog to be heard only. And Walt didn't agree with me and he said, 'But no, we must see the frog'. Well, that was his way. And don't fight him, don't go against him. If Walt wants it like that, he's going to get it. So anyway, after the meeting was over, some of these guys came around and they said, 'Oh no, Jules we're with you, we're… you should have'. I said, 'Forget that, you should have said something when you were already in there, not when Walt is gone. Now you're going to tell me about this stuff, you know? But why didn't you open your mouth when you were in there?' All I said to Walt, 'I think it should be just a sound'. And he didn't bite me or anything, he just said, 'No, I must see the frog'. You want to see the frog? You're going to see the frog. That was the characteristic of the studio, nobody would speak up and we were all afraid of him, you know? But that was okay, he knew what he was doing, where he was going, you know? But they really, really wanted to say no to Walt. So that was, I think, to a degree, it was mistake. Even if he would change, even if he would say no, but at least you'll put another idea in his head. Or another way of doing something, he wouldn't bite you, you know? What the hell's the matter with you? But that was the texture of the studio.

The late Hungarian-American film-maker Jules Engel is best known for his contribution to the field of animation. His work includes the dance sequences in Walt Disney's 'Fantasia' and the creation of 'Mr Magoo'. His films and lithographs are housed in museums all over the world and have won many awards.

Listeners: Bill Moritz Tamara Tracz

William Moritz received his doctorate from USC and pursues parallel careers as filmmaker and writer. His forty-four experimental and animation films have been screened at museums in Paris, Amsterdam and Tokyo, among others. He published widely on Oskar Fischinger, James Whitney, Bruce Conner, the Fleischers and 200 pages of animation history for an AbsolutVodka website. He wrote chapters for the "Oxford History of Cinema", appeared in several television documentaries, curated art exhibits and received a lifetime achievement trophy from the Netherlands Royal Academy for his work with visual music. He has served on film festival juries and received an American Film Institute filmmaking grant. His poetry and plays are also performed and published. He is a leading expert of Oskar Fischinger and recently published a biography of him. He teaches at The California Institute of the Arts.

Tamara Tracz is a writer and filmmaker based in London.

Tags: Walt Disney

Duration: 1 minute, 51 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008