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Abstract art


The difference between working in a studio and working for oneself
Jules Engel Film-maker
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It's good to do the other which... when you deal with a lot of people. And then also it's good that you deal just with yourself. And naturally... but UPA [United Productions of America] as well it was very special because although I run the shop in that end of it, you see, but at the same time, because I'm like making my own film. I'm not making at UPA, I'm not making for Warner Brothers, I'm doing this portion of it and that portion of it is going to be me. That's why I always wanted that aspect of it at UPA. Let me handle the color, you know, because I know that's a biggie. The color is big. So naturally for me, that's a total artwork, it's like making my own film, you see? So that's the big difference. It's how much freedom you have and not have somebody come around and say, 'Hey, that's red, it should have been purple'. You know? 'It's red, it should have been green'. You know? And he runs the studio. I can't argue with him, 'No this is better', because I've got to keep my job. Or he takes such a dislike of me that he never speaks to me again. So when you work in the studio - unless UPA, which was almost abnormal the way it was put together and it was like you were walking into your own kitchen, you know? And that's the way it was. And that's rare because, at Disney, if Walt came in with his entourage and they look at a section of Bambi, I mean, he could change everything. And you're either going to shut up or if you don't, you can maybe lose the job next day, you… you know? But the big difference is that you need the one where you are totally yours, you're totally yours. Because you can spend a lifetime working on other films, for other people but there's nothing really yours, you know? And that's sometimes difficult, especially when it comes to doing a feature film. I mean, that's... now you're dealing with money, now you're dealing with something else, which has nothing to do with talent, to a degree, you know? But naturally, if you do a 3-minute film or a 5-minute film... even a 10-minute film, you can do it on your own, you don't need anybody's help. And that's good, you know? If you can manage that, this is all yours, you know? And that's when you put your head on the table, it will be chopped off.

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, Warner Brothers, Bambi, Walt Disney

Duration: 3 minutes, 4 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008