Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Ed Hooks on Hollywood Animation

Ed Hooks is an actor and acting teacher who has run workshops for animators.  He has a monthly newsletter where he talks about animated acting and comments on animated films.  This is from his latest:
"Even a cursory glance at the evolution of feature animation in the United States reveals a lack of thematic diversity. Walt Disney started out making movies for children, and that is still pretty much the situation today. For one brief moment in history, it looked like John Lasseter and his Pixar crew were  going to break the mold. "Toy Story" was for adults, as was "Monsters Incorporated", "The Incredibles" and "Ratatouille".  These movies worked for the kids in the audience, but they had adult themes and featured characters with adult wisdom. Pixar gave Hollywood animation a real Camelot moment. But then Disney bought Pixar, and we are back where we started, with movies for kids. The stories invariably are about  good vs. evil, virginal first love or non-life-threatening bravery. There is definitely sufficient talent in Hollywood to handle tough adult-world issues, but there is more money to be made with kids' movies and their tentpole merchandising opportunities."


Thad Komorowski said...

I think he's overstating Disney's purchase (CARS, released the year of the buyout, stunk, so the seeds were already there), but I agree.

Peter said...

To be fair to Walt, he didn't actually start out making movies for children either - that crept in during 50s.

But ever since then the perception that "cartoons are for kids" has predominated - despite the absurd contradiction that so many golden age shorts have had to be edited or excluded for television consumption.

Too many animated features today seem to be made 'back-to-front' - rather than building around a basic story concept they appear to start with the premise 'this is a kids film' and then try to build it on a perceived pre-existing formula to this end.

It is worth noting that the original Disney features were created by building on the most memorable elements of the source material, then letting the characters' personalities determine the way these played out. There was no attempt to shoehorn elements into the plot that were not in someway already present.

Nowadays the original source seems to be the first thing to go.

Anonymous said...

Ed Hooks is kind of a fraud, in that his "acting for animators" is responsible for some of the worst habits in animation over the last few decades. I wouldn't put too much weight in ANYTHING he says.

Mark Mayerson said...

I don't put too much weight on ANYTHING said anonymously.