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Disney and UPA


Working methods at UPA
Jules Engel Film-maker
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The other interesting thing about UPA [United Productions of America] was the way we were [unclear] and worked with the animator, although you were not an animator. Let's say you were a story man, but you just walk up to your animator and he would ask you, because you're in the story, what would be a nice way to go, a good way to go? We had a kind of a relationship to each other, which had nothing to do with job. Either I was a lay-out man or a background artist because I used color or [Herbert] Herb Klynn did overall lay-out, [Robert] Bobo Cannon was the director. But we didn't have those walls. If I saw something that Bobo was doing and I said, 'Hey, Bob, I have an idea' and I'd tell him the idea and even if it was the last minute before the film was even, Bob then go and change things and make it work. But it's very rare, it's very rare. But the four or five guys that I mentioned, we could talk to each other. It had nothing to do with how much you make or how much I make. It was, 'Hey, I have an idea'. Boom. And then you make that work. And that doesn't exist, you know, in most places because you have always got, this is your position, that's your position. But I think when a studio gets bigger, it's difficult to maintain that kind of activities. When it's small, like UPA was, UPA was maybe 110 to 112 people, that's not a big number. And so… But we knew each other, even if we're not there. And there's a relationship between you and the next man, if you can work together, you know? And you know he's good, he knows I'm okay, we know him is okay, you know? But the talent was good, the talent was good. Because when you see [unclear] this one with guy who sees the giraffe in the park - outside the yard. What was that? And then he goes and tell his wife, there's an animal on the garden. Funny, I can't think of it, it's a famous story. There's an animal in the garden and she says, 'You're a booby, I'm going to call the hospital to pick you up'. And when the hospital comes, they're picking her up, you know? And I saw just the other day, I have a print or two prints of that and you look at it today, all this time later, and they're beautiful. They are absolutely incredible films. And time didn't hurt them at all, and that's magic. When time doesn't destroy you, then you have something special. And these films are just about that, they're just beautiful… beautiful. It's a beautiful art piece.

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: United Productions of America, Robert Canon, Herbert Klynn

Duration: 3 minutes, 17 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008