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Making films after 'Carnival'


Making 'Carnival'
Jules Engel Film-maker
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Well Carnival I was in... we moved to Paris with the two little girls and the two French poodles and all that. And I always wanted to do a film using Siné's cartoons. I always wanted to do that. So now I'm here at the right place. And I met one… one person who was also from America. So there was some contact, you know? And then… then what happened, I went to Siné [Maurice Sinet] I had a certain amount of money. And I said to him, 'I want to buy... give me eight gags', and I gave him so much money. So he give me eight gags that I bought. And then when I found out, a couple of days later, I could have gone to London and get those things for nothing. Because in Paris the same gag belonged to somebody from Paris but in London, the same gag, you know, by somebody else. So they stole from each other. So I could have gone to London and get it for nothing, you know? It was published, you know? But anyway, then I went to Siné and I was so surprised, he's a little guy, little guy. Very gentle, quiet. And yet, you know, when he had an exhibit in Paris, the doors were closed, you had to knock on the door and then you can go in and see the exhibits because they were so wild, so ugly, so over-sexed, you know? All that stuff, that the police wanted them to have the door closed. But if I knocked on the door and they looked out and I'm an adult, they would let me in and see the exhibit. But that was also the presence of Siné, you know, with his gags. And they're funny, they're good stuff. So the whole thing was that he give me eight gags, you know? I gave him like $200. Then I find out that I could have opened up the magazine and get it for nothing. But it's no big deal. The big deal was, I met Siné, you know? That was, that was good. And then I met somebody else who animated... So anyway, I put the film together. And so I remember the first time I saw the film at some event and the French were so happy because they finally felt that they have a funny cartoon, you know, that really belongs to Paris. And they didn't ever realize that belongs to me, you know? But the problem was, they wanted it to be French, you see? So forget Jules Engel. No big deal, I wasn't pushing that, you know? And the film was done and… and I was very lucky to bump into people that were so nice and kind and helped me. Because it was easy to buy a gag, it was easy to find somebody to animate but still the film had to be put together, you need to go to a place where you can use the machinery, you know? I met somebody else and they owned a good studio in Paris and so they let me use their equipment for editing and also for music and stuff like that. But all the time, you always run into problems. You know, the man who let me use his studio and use his place where I can edit, you know, he wanted credit as a producer. Now what the fuck are you talking about? I mean… And he was a nice person, you know, but... he wants a credit like that. I mean, no way. So you always had something that you had to jump over, you know what I mean? And then so then I need some more money... But Paris is funny. I went to somebody to ask him if he could loan money in order that I would have him own part of the film. Well, he gave me about 1500 or something, a Frenchman who hardly knew me, except from my past background, you know? And I left Paris, I never saw him again and he never chased me because he was so wealthy, that even the 1500 or 1800 he gave me, for a portion of the film, when it's finished, he never asked for that, or... you know what I mean? It was never a problem. But at the same time, it had a texture that we wouldn't have it in this country. A total stranger walks in and then you walk out with $1800, we'd never met before. I mean... what does he...? I mean, I could have left Paris and come back to LA and that would have been it. But that was the texture, that was the texture of that and still is, probably. You know, that's the texture. But because I had this huge reputation because of UPA [United Productions of America], that opened other doors. And then eventually you meet some people, they become your friends and stuff and you just carry on.

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: Tamara Tracz Bill Moritz

Tamara Tracz is a writer and filmmaker based in London.

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.

Tags: United Productions of America, Carnival, Maurice Sinet

Duration: 5 minutes, 46 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008