a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Working methods at UPA


The great UPA films
Jules Engel Film-maker
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

I think Gerald McBoing Boing is very important. You know, it's interesting, sometime you have a feeling. Now, I did the design, the color, because that was my job, you know? And I know when I did that, and please don't misunderstand me, I knew that we have something big here. I knew, I knew that. And I did the design, color and all that. And this was one of those things. You just knew. That's why the problem at the movie house was such a shock of the place is full with people and nothing, I mean nothing, you know? How can that be? So what that turn out to be? How can that be? We have to go to New York when you have something special. You see, not, not Burbank. What's the other little cities around Burbank, you know, and that crowd. So this was a shocker, you know. And at the same, it's funny, went to New York and pow! And then we had other, Madeline, I went by some store in Beverly Hills and I saw this book in a window, Madeline. I went in and I asked for a book and I bought the book and I said, 'Oh my God, this is perfect for us'. You see, when you're in a position like that, that you can do almost anything and then you go around and look around, here's Madeline, I mean, that's a massive piece. So I go back home and I tell Steve Basustow, Steve, we have to buy this, we have to make this film. You know, Madeline? So we did it, took whatever it needs to be done. And I'm at some Hollywood party and this lady says to me, 'You know what? I saw the most beautiful French film'. I knew, when she said, French film, I knew what she's talking about but I didn't let on, I didn't let on. I said, 'Oh really? What was the name of the film?' 'Oh Madeline, Madeline'. Oh, and I said to her, but nicely, I said, 'Lady, you know, it wasn't done in France, it was done in Burbank'. You know, I did that on purpose. I put Burbank on the map, you know? And she said, 'Oh really?' Oh, and another thing went weird because people would come to the box office and they would ask, 'When does Madeline goes on'? Now, that just killed 'em. They coming to the window asking for the 6-minute film, not the feature, a 6-minute film, when is Madeline goes on? So then people go and bought the tickets, saw Madeline and left and they walked out. But they wanted to see Madeline. So you see, you can do a film in a popular presence and go big and Madeline was. And then there was another one I saw. Damn, I always have a problem with the title of this film. I was somewhere in some store and they had those give-aways, you know, those little throw-away magazines. And there was a terrific story about, oh, it's called a Jaywalker. There was a terrific little story in there called The Jaywalker in this throw-away. And again, I went back home, I talked to Steve, I said, 'We have to buy this story'. And we paid something like $500 for Jaywalker. Beautiful story. It's about a guy who does that, you know? And eventually he gets wings because he's overdone it too often and now he's going up there, someplace in heaven. And so these things were possible at UPA [United Productions of America] for us. Other studios would have a leader and all this crap, you know? But at UPA we just worked things out. I said, 'Okay, that's a good, we should do that'. And it's a beautiful film, Jaywalker, great film. The problem was Bo, [Robert] Bobo Cannon who is really the great director and character animator and Bobo Cannon, he was special. He was the director on this film. And I don't know why but Bobo had so much problem with the film. He kept saying, he was almost quitting and I had to go and talk to him like a father, you know? 'Bob, no, you're doing great'. Finally we finished the film. It's a beautiful film. So actually, we did some incredibly beautiful things. We improved, we brought up animation into a much higher level, what that art can be. Because… Edgar Allan Poe, Tale of Hearts

[Q] Tell-tale Heart.

Tell-tale Heart, yeah, that's a beautiful thing, incredibly beautiful. I run that for my students. I always run, during one time a year, a UPA program. And you'd be surprised how many students, they don't know that I worked there but in other departments, they're still chasing those UPA films. And they come and tell you, 'These are beautiful films'. They think it was done yesterday. I said, 'No, no, it was done 30 years ago'. 'Thirty years ago?' 'Yes, 30 years ago.' The quality of those films is timeless, it's timeless. They don't show time, you know?

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: Gerald McBoing Boing, Madeline, The Jaywalker, Hollywood, New York, Tell-tale heart, Robert Canon, Edgar Allan Poe

Duration: 5 minutes, 57 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008