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The world of animation has lost its roots


Animators: who gets the credit?
Jules Engel Film-maker
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No animator finishes a film. There's no animator's film. Each has three or four animators on a film. So the only person who can really claim some credit is the director, who's responsible for putting the whole thing together. But… but when you're dealing with animation from an industry, not today, like yesterday, that would be like MGM [Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer], Warner Brothers, Universal, you know, and stuff like that. Each film has at least four or five animators working on it. So there's no such a thing as a film coming out from the industry, with one animator. No. One director on a short, yes. And he gets all the credit, generally. But the people who do the actual animation, drawing, and all this and all that, their name is mentioned, like, animated by... and then you have all the names. But in the industry, the animator… the director is the only one who gets credit on a film. Whether that's right or wrong but that's the way it works, you know?

When we had UPA [United Productions of America] … we had UPA and we had one film... even there you had two or three people animating. Because John Hubley was a big name because he was really responsible for some film before he moved to New York. The other person was Bobo Canon, who was totally responsible. But Bobo was responsible for at least 13 films. Hubley was responsible maybe for two before he moved to New York. But… but there you really deal with two huge talents, Bobo Canon and John Hubley. Oh, and then there's this guy from Warner's... sure he just put a picture of him on the sidewalk a… a year ago... I mentioned his name a couple of times, I can't recall him now.

[Q] Chuck Jones?

Chuck Jones, yeah. So he's big, Hubley is big, Bobo Canon is big. But the only person people really know is Chuck Jones. Because he was out more times and he was after it, whereas others were not after it, you know? It just that didn't come to them. And that's what I'm trying to do now, to get Bobo Canon… and things are in motion, you know, that he should get a book. Because when you talk about UPA and all that stuff, 85% is Bobo Canon, you see? And it would be nice to have that happen.

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: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Warner Brothers, Universal, UPA, United Productions of America, John Hubley, Robert Canon, Chuck Jones

Duration: 3 minutes, 11 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2003

Date story went live: 29 September 2010