Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Winsor McCay Project

It's countdown time for the world premiere of the Winsor McCay/Bill Plympton version of “The Flying House” at the Hamptons Film Festival October 13th-17th. I've decided to make a documentary DVD that explains the background of my decision to create this new version of the film.

Also, I want to include the original version of the film on the DVD, and perhaps talk to some of my assistants about working on the Winsor McCay project.

I'm really excited about the new film “The Flying House”. Briefly, the whole idea started when I was watching a compilation of his work and was struck by how magnificent “The Flying House” (1921) was, yet how in all my years as an animator I'd never seen the film. What a shame! I quickly surmised that although it was a delightful story with terrific animation, the poor quality of the film stock, intertitles, and the lack of sound and color made it a very difficult film to enjoy. So I decided to take it upon myself to resurrect this forgotten masterpiece. It's been a 2-year project, and finally now I get to show it to the world at the prestigious Hamptons Film Festival.

However, a number of film and animation scholars have objected to my project. In fact, there was a lively debate on Mark Mayerson's site – I encourage you to go there and witness the carnage:


  1. I appreciate your effort! thanks Bill! I'd love to be able to enjoy the results soon, but I'll have to wait I guess.

  2. I do take offense to any suggestion that Winsor McCay's work (specifically this one) has been forgotten. Milestone Film & Video has sold over 20,000 DVDs and VHS tapes of the collection. We have shown it on television in many countries. It has shown in university film and animation classes countless times. The collection has been shown in Film Festivals and Film Societies all over the world. It was the inspiration for UP. And of course, John Canemaker's wonderful biography was lushly produced in two editions. I doubt that many current indie animators can claim such success. Just by saying that Winsor McCay work is forgotten to justify a "fixed" edition, doesn't make it true.

  3. ". . . the poor quality of the film stock, intertitles, and the lack of sound and color made it a very difficult film to enjoy."

    The same could be said of any of Winsor McCay's films. Are you going to redo them all? In your film the animation timing is changed, the cutting is changed, and the images are altered. I guess you didn't think the original was as "magnificent" as you say it was.

    Next up, colorize "Citizen Kane." You can try to make Orson Welles thinner in the process.

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  5. I don't see how lack of color can make any B & W film difficult to enjoy. Unless it's sheer frustration that 'The Flying House' doesnt look more like a Little Nemo broadsheet.

    Having worked in film restoration for many years, I am a big believer in returning things to the state they were originally in, but I'm personally wary about touching things like flawed optical effects.

    Though I do enjoy experimental montage works by Bruce Connor and Craig Baldwin who rearranged ancient and found footage to put it in another context.