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Relationships with students


Choosing and working with students
Jules Engel Film-maker
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When they come into the school, we're looking at the work and when they're looking at the work, I say, 'I'll take her'. In other words, this is my way of doing this whole thing. If you want somebody, although three of us will say no, and he'll say yes, he can have it. In other words, nobody has to be everybody's vote, you know? Because I might like somebody's vote… somebody's work. You don't, he don't, you know? But the point is, I like his work and I'll take him against their wishes… this is my idea… because if we all have to agree always on who we take, we take one of a kind, because we all agree? No, forget that all agree, I want this person, I'll be his mentor, you see? You guys don't want it? That's okay. But I think… It happened so beautifully - I'll go back a couple of years. This guy's father was teaching at CalArt, so naturally he got in and all that stuff. And he had a portfolio, he had a portfolio, and they looked at it and he was going to go out, no way. I looked at the book, the portfolio and I find one out of 20 pieces of painting that I like. On that one, I took him. There's no question, this one. Three, four, maybe five weeks are going by and he's in the room, you know, and somebody came in, he's got his picture in this new thing, and he needed an animator. I said, 'Go with him, this guy, go with him'. Three months later or two months later I saw the film that he did. Beautiful job, he did a beautiful job and his father was the one who was the composer on this film. And he became a terrific talent, a terrific animator, he made some good living, he's good. But it took me just this one out of 20 pieces of paper that I said, 'I'll take him', you see? And it turned out to be a beautiful situation, he makes a good living, he's done well. He did two other films while he was there.

Well, this is something that you have to deal with. Don't just say no, you know? If I find one piece out of the 18 or so, that is something, I'll take him. I'll take him. And it works. And sometimes they don't know what to send in so they maybe settle on all kinds of junk, you know? That's wrong. But… and also, when you look at the work of a talent that comes in, don't hate him. You know how sometimes these students, they want to show how smart they are. And they eventually already throwing at him, you know? Don't do that, no, don't do that. If I like what I see maybe I'll find something in that bag that I'll say, 'I'll take him, on this premise, what I see here'. You have to have that feeling that when you're looking at work, out of 18, one looks good, but that one is good. You go with that. But in general, we know each other and if I see somebody right now, you know, we gonna… looking at the work, I'll take him. And… but we don't all have to agree, that's crap. The art school has 22… 20 teachers sitting around when the people are coming in and they all have to agree on taking this one. That's dumb. That's stupid. They shouldn't have to have 20 to agree. One, just one. But the point is, if you like, take him, you know? And so far it's really always worked out beautifully because I don't know everything and I'm not afraid to say, 'I don't think, what the hell? I don't understand, why don't you go and see Bob, he's more in that way, I'd like to see what…' You know what I mean? We have that going like that. And that's good. You see, some of the schools, you would be so protective of your people that you don't let him or her go out and talk to other faculty. You see, if you talk to this [sic], go and see him, he might have more to give you than what you get from me right now. But you don't have to be afraid that you're going to lose him, you know? That's no big deal. Because what you do is, you trust him and he trusts you more. Because I sent him there because they can help you, even if I, in this moment, can't help you, but I think they can help you, you see? So there's a relationship immediately between you and him and all... You see, that's good. But too often at the schools, they fight for a talent and then they kill him by protecting him like that, you know? So that's dumb. But, no, I feel you should be able to find one out of 18, whatever drawings, that's any good. And then you work with that, you know? That's the way I handle the situation. And so we don't all have to agree on him or on her, 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: Cal Arts, California Institute of the Arts

Duration: 6 minutes, 17 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2003

Date story went live: 29 September 2010