Wednesday, June 07, 2006

30 Years Ago Today...

...on June 7, I started working in the animation business at a hole-in-the-wall N.Y. studio called Teletactics. The project was a one hour TV special for the local ABC-TV station called Days of Liberty. On my first day they didn't have a scene ready for me, so I ended up doing inbetweens on a scene animated by John Canemaker, now the noted animation historian, teacher and Oscar winning short film maker. I'm sure that John would agree with me that Days of Liberty was nobody's finest hour.

My pay was a princely $135 a week. The quota was 30 drawings a day. We had no assistants, so we cleaned up and inbetweened our own scenes. No pencil tests were shot. The first time we saw our scenes moving, they had already been inked, painted and photographed. It was a frustrating and scary way to work.

The studio was composed of people at near the start or end of their careers: Yvette Kaplan, later a director for Beavis and Butthead, King of the Hill and story person for Ice Age; Dave Burd, who went on to perform on the Uncle Floyd Show; Milt Stein, longtime animation veteran and funny animal comic book artist; and Selby Kelly, recently-widowed wife of Pogo's Walt Kelly and herself a veteran of Disney and Chuck Jones.

While the TV guide blurb credits the direction to Barry Drucker, it was actually by John Lopez. You can always count on fly-by-night producers to have a Walt Disney complex and hog all the credit. If Drucker had any taste, he would have taken his name off the show.

It aired on December 11. I was laid off in November, which turned out to be a stroke of luck. I managed to find my next job before the market was flooded in January when Raggedy Ann and Andy laid off its crew. Zander's Animation Parlour hired me as an inbetweener for commercials, and I went from one of the weakest studios in N.Y. to what was definitely one of the best.

1 comment:

Chris Sobieniak said...

Just thinking of this studio right now while watching "Why The Bears Dance On Christmas Eve". Barry Drucker kept that sort of credit-hogging thing going with that special too I noticed. I see Jon Lopez continued to work on other animated projects into the new millennium but appears to have got himself into other careers like photography and having taught English to Korean children for a year.