Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cow and Flying House

As most of you Scribble Junketeers know, my animated short "The Cow Who Wanted to Be A Hamburger" is happily included in the short list for the Academy Awards. Well, last weekend they showed that short list to all the East coast animation members to decide who gets nominated on January 25th.

So it's a very important screening. About halfway through the session, "The Cow Who Wanted to Be A Hamburger" was slotted and by Academy rules, I had to vacate the room (stupid rule). In the meantime, I decided to use the adjacent facilities. While I was in there relieving myself, there was a loud bang on the door.

It was Signe Baumane – She urged me to look at the screening because something was terribly wrong with my print. I quickly, but carefully, zipped up and raced to the screening room along with two or three other friends who were alerting me to the screening disaster. And sure enough, my print of "The Cow Who Wanted to Be A Hamburger" was horribly scratched, streaked, and had awful sound.

But what could I do? I had no backup print, and the Academy members had to see something, so I was powerless to stop the film.

At the subsequent break, everyone gave me their condolences of the unfortunate screening. Apparently, I'd mistakenly sent the Academy an old print that had been mangled at some previous film festival. But since I don't have access to a screening room, I'd sent it in blind.

This brings up an interesting issue. I told a few film historians about my Winsor McCay's "The Flying House" remake, and one famous archivist complained that the fact that I was cleaning the ancient 1921 film (by eliminating scratches and dust) ruined the film for him - he liked the damage to the film print.

But to me, it's a major distraction. If I'm watching a film, I don’t want to be reminded that it's a film I'm watching. I love getting lost in the magical world of imagination and the beautiful art.

And that's exactly what happened at the Academy screening – all the scratches and imperfections of the film stock took people out of the lovely story I was trying to tell in "The Cow Who Wanted to Be A Hamburger".

But just to let you know, I was able to order a new print from Technicolor, and it will be shipped to the West coast for the Academy Screenings there.

Cross your fingers and toes!


  1. Gah! A filmmaker's worst nightmare. The west coast screening will go more smoothly, for sure. Good luck man.

  2. Oh my god...I would have dropped dead there if that happened to me! Glad you could rectify the situation later.

    I get a little annoyed at the whole issue of NOT restoring works, and others not being able to let go of things like aging to a film that grew on them; really only a nostalgic value. If it wasn't the filmmaker's intention for the dust and scratches to be there in the first place, then they would have liked you to see it without! There is botched restoring of course, which is a crime in itself, but giving it a clean slate once again does a film huge justice.

  3. I like it how Pat is all cool and refreshing, always posting new work from young artists, and Bill on the other side is just so full of himself talking about how important is to get nominated to the Oscars. I like the balance there. Reading this blog makes me see the reality of the animation industry and what it can do to your personality. You know what they say, Bill "don't trust an artist without an ego, nor a person without a bad habit".

  4. my fingers and toes are crossed Bill!

  5. ah.. luis.. you gotta be more fair to a guy that supports himself and his studio ENTIRELY with his independent films! although.. thanks for the street cred:)

  6. I collect cartoon on 16mm film and yes, these things can be a problem, especially with the rare and obscure titles.

    Hopefully the west-coast screening will do better and get enough support there.