Wednesday, November 19, 2008

News - 11/19/08...

DQ Ent. Animates More Large Family

DQ Ent (DQE) has announced the production of a second season of The Large Family, an animated TV series co-produced by Coolabi Prods. in the U.K. and Go-N Prods. in France, with the support of broadcasters Cbeebies in the U.K, TF1 in France and BBC Worldwide.

Based on the best selling books by Jill Murphy, The Large Family chronicles the daily lives of an all-too-human elephant family. The second season of the 2D show is being completed for roughly $ 3.2 million, and is scheduled to begin airing in 2009.

“We are delighted to be working alongside two of Europe’s best known broadcasters in Cbeebies-UK and TF1-France for the second season of Large Family,” says Tapaas Chakravarti, chairman and CEO of DQE. “The excellent working relationship between all the co-producers on the series has been crucial in securing a second series.”

DQE produces animation for films, television series and console video games for a number of international production houses. Clients include Walt Disney Television Animation, Nickelodeon Animation Studios Inc., Electronic Arts, Marvel, American Greetings, NBC-Universal, BBC, M6, France 2, Method Animation and Atlantyca. The studio is currently in production on episodes of Iron Man: Armored Adventures, Casper, Pinky & Perky, Twisted Whiskers, Mikido, Little Nick and Le Petit Prince, among other animated shows.





Boomerang Has Thanksgiving That Almost Wasn't

Cartoon Network’s Boomerang will celebrate the tastiest holiday of all with two commercial-free airings of Hanna-Barbera’s 1972 animated special The Thanksgiving That Almost Wasn't. Celebrating its 26th anniversary, the half-hour program will air on Thanksgiving Day at 10 a.m. (ET) and again at 8 p.m.

Featuring a voice cast that includes June Foray (Looney Tunes, Rocky and Bullwinkle) and Don Messick (Scooby-Doo, The Jetsons), The Thanksgiving That Almost Wasn't is an adventure story about the power of friendship. Set in 1621, the special chronicles one fateful day for Johnny Cooke, a young Pilgrim boy, and Little Bear, an Indian boy, who go missing before the first Thanksgiving feast. When their friend, Jeremy Squirrel, hears they are in peril he goes on a daring rescue mission, braving waterfalls and snarling timber wolves to save his pals.

Boomerang is Turner Broadcasting System Inc.'s 24-hour cable/satellite network offering classic animated entertainment, much of it from the Hana-Barbera catalog. More programming info can be found at http://Boomerang.CartoonNetwork.com.





Autodesk Completes Softimage Acquisition

Autodesk today announced that it has closed the acquisition of essentially all assets of Softimage, a competing developer of 3D animation and effects technology for the film, television and games markets. The $35 million sale was announced late last month when Autodesk signed a definitive agreement to purchase the company form Avid Technology Inc.

“We welcome Softimage customers, strategic partners and employees to Autodesk,” says Marc Petit, senior VP of Autodesk Media & Entertainment. “This acquisition brings advanced 3D tools to our entertainment portfolio; tools that are known and loved by the 3D entertainment community. With production pipelines becoming entirely digital, and the convergence between games, film and television content, this acquisition is expected to complement and accelerate Autodesk's work in building real-time, interactive 3D authoring tools.”

Marc Stevens, former general manager of Softimage, has joined the management team at Autodesk, which intends to maintain and expand the Softimage product line. Autodesk will sell stand-alone versions of both the SOFTIMAGE|XSI and SOFTIMAGE|Face Robot 3D software products, and the SOFTIMAGE|Cat character animation plug-in for Autodesk 3ds Max is expected to be integrated into the Autodesk 3ds Max product line. In addition, the SOFTIMAGE|Crosswalk interoperability solution will be integrated with Autodesk's own interoperability technology.

Autodesk plans to continue to use the Softimage trademark, and the Softimage brand will become part of the Autodesk brand identity. While there are no immediate changes to the names of Softimage products, Autodesk intends to make alterations to product branding with the next software releases.

The Softimage online store is temporarily offline as Autodesk works to integrate it with its own online store. Within a few weeks, Autodesk expects to make Softimage products available online for customers based in the United States. Over time, the company intends to add Softimage products to its e-stores for all regions where other Autodesk products are sold online. For further information on the acquisition, go to www.autodesk.com/softimage.






Disney Animators Discuss 2D/3D Convergence

Animation Mentor is hosting a panel discussion and networking opportunity with veteran animators at the Disneyland Hotel a 2 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 21. Titled “The Convergence of 2D and 3D Animation: Where the Future of Animation is Heading,” the presentation will be moderated by 30-year animation veteran Tom Sito, whose credits include The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Pocahontas, Dinosaurs and Fantasia 2000. Unfortunately, admission to the event is by invitation only, but we’ll try and get more details for you.

Joining Sito on the panel are Jay Jackson, a supervising animator on a Disney educational film; Raul Garcia, who just completed the feature The Missing Lynx and is a partner at Antonio Bandera’s animation studio Kandor Moon; Scott Johnston, founder of Fleeting Image Animation; and T. Dan Hofstedt, a senior character animator working at Walt Disney Animation Studios on the 2D feature The Princess and the Frog.

Animation Mentor exclusively teaches character animation in an online environment where students learn directly from professional animators from top studios including Disney Animation Studios, DreamWorks, Industrial Light & Magic, Pixar Animation Studios and Sony Pictures Imageworks. Classes maintain a mentor-to-student ratio of no more than 1-to-15 as students learn the art of animation within an interactive online classroom and under the close direction of mentors. Learn more at www.animationmentor.com.





Michael Sporn Collection New on DVD

The films of multiple award-winning animator Michael Sporn are now available on DVD with a collector’s edition box set featuring twelve of his unique, socially aware shorts. The First Run release includes animated stories based on tales from such acclaimed writers as Shrek author William Steig, Russell Hoban, Hans Christian Andersen and Lewis Carroll. Familiar voices heard in these films include James Earl Jones, Ruby Dee, Tim Curry, Amanda Plummer, Danny Glover, Linda Lavin, Regis Philbin, Ossie Davis and F. Murray Abraham.

Included in the six-disc set are Whitewash, The Talking Eggs, Champagne, The Hunting of the Snark, The Marzipan Pig, Jazztime Tale, Abel's Island, The Dancing Frog, The Red Shoes, The Little Match Girl, The Emperor's New Clothes and Nightingale. Fans will also enjoy a generous offering of extras created by Sporn especially for this release. These include In the Animation Studio and other bonus short films, animatics (storyboards), art galleries and audio commentaries.

Sporn has been animating professionally since 1972, working with such celebrated animation directors as John and Faith Hubley (Cockaboody, Letterman, Everybody Rides the Carousel) and Richard Williams (Raggedy Ann & Andy). After supervising many commercials and a PBS Special titled Simple Gifts, he formed his own company, Michael Sporn Animation Inc. The studio found its niche producing films for television and home video, many of which were adaptations of renowned children’s books such as Doctor Desoto, Lyle Lyle Crocodile and The Marzipan Pig. The award winning films Champagne and Whitewash represented a shift to serious animation with social relevance. Recent works include an adaptation of Good Night Moon, a Grandma Moses version of The Night Before Christmas and The Man Who Walked Between the Towers. Currently in production is a feature-length film derived from the life and works of Edgar Allan Poe.

Over the years, Sporn has been honored with Parent’s Choice medals, Cine Golden Eagles, Cable ACE Awards, Gold Apples, Carnegie Medals, Emmy Awards and an Oscar nomination. He was recently the focus of a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, and has been called “the nation’s premiere animator” by the New York Daily News. For more infmation on the artist and his films, go to www.michaelspornanimation.com, which also hosts his popular “Splog” blog.





New Animation Studio by Danny Boyle and Friends

Danny Boyle, director 28 Days Later, Trainspotting and this year’s early Oscar frontrunner Slumdog Millionaire, has started an independent animation studio with five young and talented British animators: Julia Pott, Robin Bushell, Will Crook, Matt Layzell and Alex Robinson. It’s a little unclear as to why he’s chosen to align himself with these particular artists or what they’re planning to do, but they recently posted a Halloween viral (see below) to promote themselves. Their website TreatStudios.com offers nothing at the moment except a playful bit of animation about trees and paper.

According to /film, Boyle had previously tried to create an animated project but gave up, telling the Hollywood Reporter: “You talk about indie financing being troublesome — animation is so expensive because you can’t estimate how long its going to take. On most films, if you haven’t stopped after 12 weeks, they’re going to stop you anyway, whereas an animated film can go on for years and years.”

Also interesting is this comment from Boyle to ComingSoon.net in which he talks about how animation is a “weird different discipline” because it means he has to give up some of his control to the process:

“It’s a weird different discipline, it’s very strange. You’re more like a ringmaster, kind of organizing this huge army of illustrators who can change the movie. It’s really weird. They often do scripts and they have no gags in them at all, but then you see the finished film and it’s full of funny gags, and they say that it’s not in the script, that all comes through the process of the animators. It’s like learning the skill of letting certain ones of them off their leash to do the gags.”



(Thanks cartoonbrew)





Mega Collector Presents: Eatin' On The Cuff or The Moth Who Came To Dinner













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Rod Scribner extremes from Eatin' On The Cuff or The Moth Who Came to Dinner, directed by Bob Clampett, 1942.

# 2













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# 3












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# 4












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There's nothing more to say ... except here's the complete, restored cartoon:



(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)






From Reuters/Hollywood Reporter, comes this review of Disney's "Bolt" -

Disney's latest dog picture a fetching romp








Reuters – Rhino, Bolt and Mittens in a scene from 'Bolt'. (Walt Disney Pictures/Handout/Reuters)

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – Those Beverly Hills Chihuahuas might have run their course, but a Hollywood White Shepherd efficiently marks his territory in "Bolt," an animated adventure about a canine action hero who's inadvertently shipped from his studio to the East Coast.

Although it will never be mistaken for Pixar pedigree when it reaches theaters next Friday, this genial production is a notable step up for Walt Disney Animation Studios and the first to fall under the creative guidance of Pixar's John Lasseter.

With easy-on-the-ears voice work from John Travolta and Miley Cyrus and easy-on-the-eyes digital 3-D (it's Disney's first animated effort to be conceived and designed from the outset with the format in mind), the film should handily tickle its target audience, especially at the select venues equipped to hand out those 3-D glasses.

Setting the dimensional stage with an extended action sequence that shows off the fresh technology, the story-within-the-story kicks in revealing TV superdog Bolt (Travolta) to be unaware that his villain-chasing studio environment is really all make-believe.

When he's accidentally shipped to New York, Bolt embarks on a cross-country quest, convinced that his person, Penny (Cyrus), remains in the clutches of evil back on that Hollywood soundstage.

Although his superpowers would appear to be on the fritz, he receives assistance from his two traveling companions: Mittens (
"Curb Your Enthusiasm's" Susie Essman), a world-weary street cat, and Rhino (Mark Walton), a starstruck, plastic ball-encased hamster.

Serving as the feature debut for both co-directors Chris Williams and Byron Howard, the longtime Disney Animation employees keep things moving along at a pleasant visual clip.

It still would have been nice to see the script, credited to Williams and Dan Fogelman (
"Cars"), have more of a comedic punch, with fuller character quirks and complexities to go along with the enhanced visual dimension.

The generic story line also follows an all-too-traveled path, sharing plot points with Disney's recent
"101 Dalmatians" direct-to-DVD sequel.

But there's a terrific tenderness in Travolta's performance, while Cyrus and company (also including Malcolm McDowell as the diabolical Dr. Calico and James
"Inside the Actors Studio"
Lipton stretching -- or maybe not -- as a pompous director) are similarly effective.

And because they had him in the recording studio, anyway, the producers coaxed Travolta into singing an end-credits duet with Cyrus, the sweetly innocuous "I Thought I Lost You."





Images from Thor: Tales Of Asgard

Remember that cool Thor poster I showed you yesterday? It turned up on Marvel.com along with their press release regarding the 'Thor' animated series. Well, now we're wondering if it wasn't actually artwork from the 'Thor: Tales of Asgard' DVD movie.

The artwork bears the signature Nicodemus and while our initial Google searches had us learning about the Biblical charcter Nicodemus, we soon found ourselves at the blog of one Stephen Nicodeumus, an L.A. based painter and illustrator who works in the animation industry. He's worked on such shows as 'Duck Dodgers' and 'My Gym Partner is a Monkey'.

On his blog we found a July 7th post with three background illustrations that he did, which he says are "for an upcoming Marvel DVD 'Thor:Tales of Asgard'". Check them out:













Asgard Palace background painting from THOR: SON OF ASGARD by Stephen Nicodemus.













Algrim's Chamber background painting from THOR: SON OF ASGARD by Stephen Nicodemus.





















Seid Temple background painting from THOR: SON OF ASGARD by Stephen Nicodemus.

So, with Stephen Nicodemus working on 'Tales of Asgard', which is due out September of 2009, we're betting that cool poster art was for that, and not for the 'Thor' animated show.





Jamie Hewlett's 'Phoo Action' Cancelled

A little over a year ago it was announced that the BBC was rushing into development on a TV series called 'Phoo Action' based on the comic strip 'Get the Freebies' by Jamie Hewlett. The show's pilot, which featured actress Jaime Winstone, former 'Rocky' star Carl Weathers and actor Eddie Shin, and won a Scottish Bafta award, filmed earlier this year.

The Brit network was set to go to series with 'Phoo Action'. Now, a November 15th article from The Herald paper in the UK reveals that the BBC has pulled the plug on the show, which was to start filming this month.

A spokesman for the BBC told The Herald, "During the course of pre-production it became clear that, creatively, 'Phoo Action' was struggling to fulfil its ambitions as a television drama so the decision was taken to cancel it. BBC 3 is still very interested in 'Phoo Action' as a concept and is looking into whether or not it may come back in another form in the future."

Unnamed crew members on the show confirmed that the project had persistent script problems, and reportedly the actors seemed embarassed to even read the lines.

The article goes on to detail the loss of public funds and wasted effort that went into the pre-production of the series.

Click HERE for the complete report...





Disney, H-B layout artist Robert Smith dead at 81

Robert Smith, a character designer and visual developer for Disney's 1994 movie The Lion King, died October 10 at 81.

Smith was primarily a layout artist, working in that capacity in the 1988 Disney feature film Oliver & Company. He was a layout assistant on the 1990 sequel The Rescuers Down Under.

Outside the Mouse House, he worked for Hanna-Barbera Studios, Bluth and Marvel Productions from 1955 until his retirement in 1990. He was also variously credited as R.A. Smith, Robert A. Smith or simply Bob Smith.

At H-B, he was a layout artist on the 1982 theatrical feature film
Heidi's Song. Filmation made him a layout artist on the 1985 movie Starchaser: The Legend Of Orin. For Marvel, he was a background designer on the 1985 TV-movie My Little Pony: Escape from Catrina.

He did layouts on the H-B TV series
The Kwicky Koala Show (1981); Smurfs and Pac-Man (both 1982); and The Dukes (1983).

Smith was a background designer for 49 episodes of Filmation's
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) and 78 episodes of Marvel's Muppet Babies (1984-90). In addition, he storyboarded 16 episodes of Marvel's Transformers (1984).

His last work was as a background layout artist for
Focus On The Family's Adventures in Odyssey
videos from 1991 to 1998.





Hanna-Barbera, Filmation animator Bob Carr dies

Bob Carr, an animator from 1953 to 1981 who worked at Hanna-Barbera Studios and Filmation Associates, died September 27 at 83.
Italic
Carr also was at Disney and TV Spots. His final screen credit -- as Robert Carr -- was as an animator for Ralph Bakshi's feature film American Pop.

First credited as an animator for 1961's The Yogi Bear Show, he also worked on the 1964 Flintstones episode Christmas Flintstone. Also at Hanna-Barbera, he was an animator for Space Ghost (1966) and Shazzan and The Atom Ant Show (both 1967); Harlem Globe Trotters (1970); The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan and Sealab 2020 (both 1972); Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids (1973); Devlin (1974); The All-New Super Friends Hour and Scooby's All-Star Laff-A-Lympics (both 1977); and Challenge of the Super Friends, Yogi's Space Race and The Galaxy Goof-Ups (all 1978).

At Filmation, he was at The Archie Show, The Batman/Superman Hour and Fantastic Voyage (all 1968); Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids (1972); The Secret Lives of Waldo Kitty (1975); Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle (1976); and The New Adventures of Batman (1977).





NYC children's host "Uncle" Fred Scott dead at 89

Fred Scott, one of the original "rangers" on Captain Video and his Video Rangers and a host of several kids' cartoon shows on WNEW-TV 5 through the 1950s and 1960s, has died at 88, Newsday reported Monday.

Scott, the fourth and last host/performer of Bugs Bunny Presents, died after a long illness.

He lived most recently in Ridge, New York, although he spent most of his life in Muttontown, and later, Syosset, his son Larry said.

For 30 years, Scott was an announcer at WNEW-TV, now known as WNYW/5. He was best known as daytime kids' show host "Uncle" Fred.

Bugs Bunny Presents was seen weekday evenings on WNEW from February 2 to May 2, 1959. The show's title changed to Nuts & Bugs, as the series added reruns of old movie comedies to its Bugs Bunny cartoons, and ran from May 25 to August 13, 1959. Scott would entertain and inform his young viewers between the cartoons and the Charley Chase, Edgar Kennedy, Andy Clyde and Leon Errol film comedies.

Along with Allen Swift, Scott hosted Felix the Cat and Friends on WNEW, which was New York's first station to air Trans-Lux TV's new Felix cartoons. He was the show's host from Monday through Saturday evenings from January 4, 1960 to August 31, 1962. When WNEW acquired the TV rights to the Diver Dan puppet films and added them to the show's format, the show was retitled Felix & Diver Dan.

From June 30, 1958 to September 4, 1964, Scott was a host of WNEW kids' TV series Cartoon Playtime. The weekday afternoon show screened reruns of Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes, as well as Betty Boop, Gabby, Max Fleischer Color Classics and TerryToons. Reportedly, actress and producer Whoopi Goldberg loved watching Cartoon Playtime as a child.

"Uncle" Fred also appeared on Cartoon Circus, Cartoon A Go Go!, The Deputy Dawg Show and The Big World Of Little Adam.

Scott succeeded Sonny Fox as the second and last host of the Saturday morning kids' game show Just For Fun. he presented the show from August 7 to September 4, 1965. His other colleagues from classic New York children's TV included Sandy Becker and Soupy Sales.

Born in Dayton, Ohio on June 25, 1920, Scott served in the Army Medical Corps during the Second World War. Afterward, he moved to Long Island, later working in radio and summer stock theater upstate.

In 1946, he started his TV career at experimental station W2XJT in New York. Two years later, he joined WABD, then plart of the fledgling DuMont Television Network. in 1948.

He played Communications Officer Rogers and served as the announcer on Captain Video and His Video Rangers, which aired weekday evenings on DuMont from 1949 to 1955. At one time, he appeared on eight programs a day and 14 network shows a week.

The science-fiction Captain Video was DuMont's flagship show, appealing to kids and adults alike. The star was even parodied in the 1956 Merrie Melody Rocket-Bye Baby as "Captain Schmideo." But it didn't save the network from extinction.

Several years ago, during an interview with Channel 5 critic Stewart Klein, Scott remembered meeting a little boy at an amusement park. When Scott didn't recognize him, the boy started crying.

Scott asked the youngster why he was so upset. "You know me, Uncle Fred," the boy replied. "I watch you every day."

He opened a real estate business in Syosset, retiring from TV in 1978. He retired from his real estate business seven years later.

In retirement, he divided his time between New York, Cincinnati and Florida.

Fred Scott was predeceased by his wife Barbara in 1988 and by a daughter, Barbara Ann, in 1994.

Besides Larry, of Northport, New York, he is survived by son Fred Jr., of Oyster Bay, New York; son Robert, of Southold, New York; daughter Sharon, of Spotsylvania, Virginia; and by 14 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

A wake will be held on the afternoon and evening of Tuesday, November 18 at O.B. Davis Funeral Home in Miller Place, New York. A funeral Mass is scheduled for the morning of Wednesday, November 19 at St. Mark's in Rocky Point, New York.

The family requested donations to the American Cancer Society or Catholic charities.





Moriarty Sits Down With Spike Jonze For Huge Unfettered WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE Interview + Exclusive Debut Photos!!

Moriarty from Aint It Cool News talks with director Spike Jonze about his adaptation of Maurice Sendak's classic book "Where The Wild Things Are"

Hey, everyone. “Moriarty” here.

So... have you heard that Spike Jonze is making a film out of Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE?

If you forgot, you’re not to blame. The film was originally announced a few years ago, and then set for an October ’08 release, and then... well... that didn’t happen. And it didn’t happen for a variety of reasons, which all basically boil down to “it wasn’t ready.”

I saw the film a while back. I saw it with the request that I not review it at that point, and that was fine. I was curious as could be about it, and what I saw was a fascinating rough draft, a bold and striking reflection of the book, more like an articulation of it. It was completely unlike any other adaptation of this sort of material, something akin to THE 5000 FINGERS OF DR. T in the way it seemed unafraid to freak you out. It was nowhere near done, though. And the Wild Things themselves were completely unrendered in the film I saw, meaning entire characters had yet to be truly defined.

Since then, I’ve read the same rumors you guys have online and elsewhere about the creative struggles on the film behind the scenes. Devin Faraci’s been the best and most constant voice of advocacy about it at CHUD, a squeaky wheel trying to make sure the film we finally see is something akin to the film that Spike set out to make. The one voice I haven’t heard, at any point in the process so far, has been that of Spike Jonze.

I’m not surprised. He’s never been the most accessible artist, and why should he be? He’s not making giant corporate movies like a superhero flick or a video game adaptation, so he’s not used to being beholden to the hype machine. He’s always made very personal films, and with WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, it’s safe to say, even at this early stage, that he’s done the same thing again. The difference, of course, is that this is a property with that built-in audience, and they’re curious. Verrrrrrry.

When I recently interviewed Charlie Kaufman, I told him how much I enjoyed the rough cut of the film that I saw. Kaufman demurred that he did what he described as “pretty much nothing” on the film, with Dave Eggars being the primary writer who worked with Spike on it. When I told him how much I liked it and mentioned a few things in particular, he told me that he thought Spike was pretty happy with the film right now and just getting started on the finishing technical work. I took that as a very good sign, and the first concrete thing anyone’s really heard since Gary Goetzman told AICN and CHUD on the CITY OF EMBER Comic-Con train that he felt like the film was moving forward, completely at the pace that Spike wanted it to.

But I didn’t really think about it until Spike’s publicist contacted me to say that he heard I’d seen the film, and he was interested in talking about it.

I met him at his offices right after lunch, and we sat down with his editor, Eric Zumbrunnen, to talk. We jumped right into it as soon as I walked in the room, and I asked him if he’d seen much of BENJAMIN BUTTON yet, knowing he and Fincher were both part of the heyday of Propaganda Films. He immediately lit up as he tried to describe the audacious effects work in the first part of the film. He was already mid-answer by the time I turned on my recorder and set it on the couch between us:


Spike Jonze: [The character in the first hour of BENJAMIN BUTTON]’s created in post, basically, with Brad inspiring it. Fincher totally invented his own technique, and it’s insane. Like whenever you hear there’s a CG character, I’m always a little skeptical, but I never even noticed it. It’s just this totally compelling, really charming character, you know, because he’s like a little boy inside an old man’s body, and the performance is amazing.

Moriarty: BENJAMIN BUTTON is very much like WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE in that they’re adaptations that were never approached in the typical Hollywood way, from the beginning of the process of adapting them. You’ve gone at it in a way that is really unlike any other production like this I’ve ever heard of.

Spike Jonze:
Yup.

Moriarty: Is it the fact that you guys came out of the commercial background and the video background and things where you’d been able to experiment that freed you up to think about effects this way? Because so often, I think guys get really rigid about, you know, you do it the ILM way, you get into the pipeline, and you do certain things a certain sort of way.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah, we were talking about that recently. We’re working with this company, Framestore, it’s an effects company, and in dealing with them it’s so different from dealing with an effects company ten years ago because effects companies are so much more humble. And I think it’s partially because they used to hold the keys to the secret chest of magic or whatever, and a lot of directors who come up now through videos, it’s not as separate, doing effects; it’s just part of telling the story. And I do think with a lot of directors – and not even just like Robert Rodriguez or whoever, Fincher, Chris Cunningham, Gondry – it’s like effects are just one of the tools, as opposed to “Here’s a script that needs to be filmed, how do we execute this thing?” It’s more just one of the tools you use to create a feeling that you want the movie or story to feel like.

Moriarty: I still talk to some guys who I think treat it almost like they’d treat their second unit or stunt work, where they just hand it off to somebody. They just do what they’re told in terms of getting it onscreen. But you guys really seem like you break the mold of how these things are done when you approach it, and from the ground up you kind of build new ways of getting to these ideas.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah, I think this one I just wanted to... from the beginning, I wanted it to feel a certain way. I wanted it to feel “real,” or not-real because it’s not “real,” I wanted it to feel like... like when I was a kid, and I would play with my Star Wars action figures, or read Maurice’s books and imagine me being Mickey in IN THE NIGHT KITCHEN, or whatever it was... it felt like it was everything, you know? It’s like your imagination is so convincing to yourself that... you’re there, you’re in it. And I wanted this movie to take it as seriously as kids take their imagination and not, like, fantasy it up. So I think it just started from that feeling, that it could feel like you were there with them, like Max was there with them, and not just in some fantasy movie.

Moriarty: I love that it’s not on a soundstage at all, that you just went to... is it New Zealand for the most part?

Spike Jonze:
It’s actually Melbourne, right outside of Melbourne.

Moriarty: It’s phenomenal. It feels so rough, and organic, and there’s nothing about it that feels like a soundstage, or a backdrop, or a green screen. At no point do you believe that you’re on an artificial environment.

Spike Jonze:
That’s great. Yeah, that was our aim, and it definitely was not easy. It made it a lot harder to take a little boy, these guys in suits, doing it all on camera. You know, so if they throw each other, it’s all on cables, and if we’re doing that, we’re doing it all on location. So it was definitely not the easiest way, but I tried not to think about that while I was conceiving it and just sort of conceive what would feel right. And I love the designs in the books. When I was a kid they were sort of seared into my subconscious – or unconscious.

[to Eric]

Which one would it be?

Eric Zumbrunnen: Both.

Spike Jonze: Both? It would be seared in both.

[Laughs]

So I wanted to maintain the charm and feeling, because in the book the characters are so cuddly, but also dangerous. So I wanted to maintain the charm of Maurice’s characters, but then make them feel like they lived in this environment, and give them faces and eyes that could emote in the complexity of what the script needed them to be. And so that’s sort of where the designs came from. Also, I wanted him to be able to hug them, to be able to touch them and hug them, so...

Moriarty: I love how you didn’t have to sit around waiting for the Henson guys to get things to work, which is a separate art form, and you were just able to focus on the kid’s performance and not have fifteen tech guys trying to hit a cue at the same time. I think that must be insanity, trying to do that.

Spike Jonze:
We were trying to make it as organic as possible, but even then... but the guys in the suits, the actors in the suits were incredible, and they really worked hard. I didn’t want performances of the suits or the animation to be like traditional puppetry or animation where everything’s sort of over-indicated, everything’s like “Wow wow WOW! Hey Max, how you doing!” It’s like they think everything has to be sold.

So we shot the whole movie with the voice actors on a soundstage, and we just shot it like a workshop. It looked like some sort of ‘70s experimental theatre or something like that, because it was just this blank soundstage with shag carpeting, and they were all in their socks so the sound was muted. It was just a really dead soundstage, sound-wise, and they could just act it out. We’d take foam cubes and build little trees or huts or whatever, and then we’d just workshop the scene like I would do with a live-action movie, and just find what the scene is about through blocking and improvising dialogue. And out of that stuff, then... because puppeteering and animation isn’t spontaneous in any way, but I wanted the movie to feel alive and immediate. I knew I could get that with Max, but I wanted the wild things also to have that kind of performance, so by doing that with the actors where everything is spontaneous, the guys in the suits would feed off of that. They would watch the tapes; we’d do playback for them so they’d be acting along to James Gandolfini’s voice in these speakers. And then the guy in the suit would just “feel” what Gandolfini did in his body and his shoulders, so after playback, when he starts to go, “Well... I don’t know, Max,” or whatever the line was, every little head movement would be intentional, because Gandolfini did everything with intention. They’re actors, so they aren’t even really thinking about it. With puppeteering, you have to decide what the intention is and then you have to figure out how to communicate it, because every puppet works differently. So nothing’s immediate or spontaneous about that form.

But with actors, it’s just something that happens between two or more of them. Somebody will say something, and the other will react in a way that just feels true in that moment. So we used that as the sort of basis for their performances and for the animation. It was like working backwards, finding what I wanted it to feel like and then creating a process.

Moriarty: Well the spontaneity works. I love the scene where they have the dirt clod war, because it almost felt to me like JACKASS. Like it’s got that kind of energy to it, where they’re aggressive and they’re big, and a little scary, and you feel like you could get hurt when they start going crazy around each other. But it also feels really loose, like they just have a giant dirt war fight. There’s nothing kind of ‘set piece’ about it. It just turns into this random bit of chaos. I liked that... I thought the energy was really great between them.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah. The process now is just so second nature to us, but we spent a long time after writing that script trying to figure out how to do it. Eric’s been on the movie for two and a half years, because he edited the voice shoot two years ago.

Moriarty: That’s an unusually long gig for an editor.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah, we spent months just working on that voice shoot before we even shot a frame of the film. Then we took that to Australia.

Moriarty: Now was that with this Max?

Spike Jonze:
No, he wasn’t in there because we didn’t want him to do the whole movie twice. We wanted everything to be spontaneous, so in that version we just used Catherine Keener. Me and her would basically switch off being Max with all the other actors. So I’d be Max and work a scene from inside, or Keener would be Max and I’d be able to stand outside the scene watching it. I can’t remember what we wore... we had this fur...

Eric Zumbrunnen: It was like a hat with ears on it.

Spike Jonze: Yeah, it was this hat with ears on it.
[Laughs]

It was almost like a raccoon-skin hat with ears that Keener found and gave to me for Christmas one year. So it was like whoever had that hat on was Max. But so yeah, with Max we didn’t want him to rehearse much, we just wanted him to show up on set and deal with whatever was happening. A lot of the energy on set was creating stuff off-camera for him to react to and engage in. That was like a whole movie into itself, the off-camera stuff for Max.

Moriarty: I think directing kids is one of those things that you kind of judge a director on. It’s a different discipline than almost anything else. I think with kids’ performances, I really hate mannered performances where you feel like the kid’s being coached, especially now that my boy is getting a little older, and he’s a wild animal, literally.

Spike Jonze:
How old is he?

Moriarty: He’s three now, three and a half. He’s a wild animal, and like watching the way he reasons and the way he does things, and asking him to explain why he did something, it’s awesome. It’s such a crazy head space, and this kid felt to me very organic, very real, and there are things that you see play on him over the course of the film that I don’t know how you’d fake. Like he just strikes me as a real kid reacting to something, not someone going through lines and going through scenes. And that’s a hard thing to get to, so that’s the thing I think I walked away from most impressed by the first time.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah, he’s an amazing kid.

Moriarty: And he’s taken a lot of shit on… I don’t know if it was another parent or something, but the IMDb boards kind of got really crazy and ugly and weird for a little while. It felt like a parent of a kid from the audition process who didn’t get cast, and just went after this kid who did. And that’s a weird thing to even have to deal with as you’re in the middle of production.

Spike Jonze:
The Internet already has this element to it that has a shit-talking aspect to it, but to put that on a 9-year-old kid is totally insane.

Moriarty: That’s what I really couldn’t believe. It seemed kind of outrageous that before this performance has even been cut, before you’re done with it and know what you’ve put together, here’s somebody attacking this 9-year-old, and all their frustrations, anxieties, whatever, they’ve heaped on this poor kid. It seemed like a really unfair thing to pick on, especially because you didn’t cut it yet, or hadn’t when this was going on, and so much of that is in the choices you’re gonna make.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah. And I think also – I mean I don’t know what they said, but...

Moriarty: It just got really strange. And I felt really bad for the kid. But I think that what I saw in December already kind of indicated that it’s not a typical kid performance.

Spike Jonze:
So was there stuff on the Internet before that screening in December?

Moriarty: I believe so, yeah. It started early.

Eric Zumbrunnen:
Yeah, one of our guys here showed me that stuff, and it was crazy because they were saying “Well I saw cuts of this in Australia!” And that’s a total lie, because there was nothing cut in Australia. But you can’t go on there and go “Hey, blah blah blah, I’m editing this picture and you don’t know what you’re talking about,” because anybody could say that.

Spike Jonze: Yeah, but before December, nobody could have written anything about it.

Moriarty:
That’s why it felt like it was somebody who didn’t get something and was determined to just trash talk the kid who did. And that’s such a bizarre thing to do to a kid.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah.

Moriarty: I can’t tell you the mail we get about this or the interest level there is. I was just doing a set visit in London and it came up in conversation, so I said I’d seen a cut and people go rabid when they hear that.

Because I think so many people have such a deep attachment to the book and are so passionate about it. It’s the first book I bought my kid. It’s like you look at the things on the shelf and go “Well, he’s gotta have that.”

[Laughs]

So it’s crazy, the emotion that people have invested in the material.

Spike Jonze:
At that screening you went to, there was something that was really interesting. This lady was our age and she brought a kid, or a couple kids, I don’t know, but she said that the book was something her parents got for her. She was like “When our parents got it for us, they didn’t really know what it meant. But we knew what it meant.” And I think somehow that book, and also Maurice’s work just taps into feelings kids have.
























And I know that I wouldn’t have been able to say this when I was a kid, but looking back, there was something honest about it, and as a kid you’re given so much stuff that’s not honest and is just sort of pandering or whatever that when you are given something that’s talking to you directly, you just sit up straight and connect to it and love it.

I remember with Maurice’s stuff or even WHERE DID I COME FROM? Is that what it was called?
























I just remember always going back to that book because of how few things talk to you like that.

Moriarty: Well, it’s completely frank about it, and the cartooning style got the harder things past you, so you’re able to grapple with some of those bigger ideas. What I loved about Maurice’s book and still love about it is that it’s about emotional states, and what a crazy thing it is to write about for children... how sometimes you have these emotions that are just so big you can’t control them.

And a big part of getting older is learning how to handle these things, and the wild things really are part of being a kid. You know, sometimes you just get overwhelmed and everything seems crazy, and you feel like that. And I love that his book is scary when you’re a kid. And I love watching my kid be scared reading it. He gets into it, and he really gets scared of the wild things, and I think there’s something essential in it for kids. Like we need to get scared sometimes, and we need to feel that kind of abandon of the wild rumpus. I think your film is daunting for a kid. I think the wild things, because of their physicality and because they are so big, are kind of intimidating, and I can imagine some kids will be really freaked out by them.

But if they weren’t, it’s not WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah, it doesn’t take it seriously. And I think from the beginning, I told the studio, “I don’t think this is gonna be a movie for four-year-olds.” And I think they said “Oh, okay,” but I think that when they saw it, that’s another... you know, that’s something else. How old do you think your son would be before you show him the movie?

Moriarty: It depends. We’re really having the debate now about what’s appropriate for him and it’s an ongoing thing, like you look at stuff and you judge stuff and there’ve been a few times where I think I may have misjudged. I would say five or six...

I’d feel comfortable with him seeing it and getting it. But I think younger than that would be too much, because I think they are physically so intimidating.

Spike Jonze:
And also the way it’s photographed, I guess.

Moriarty: Even the opening stuff that’s at home is kind of upsetting... that whole “permanent damage” idea, with Keener freaking out at him...

Spike Jonze:
Yeah. It’s funny, that line actually isn’t in there anymore. That’s a scene we took out, and then we couldn’t figure out how to get that line back in there. But I think that even though the line’s gone, that idea’s still there. One of the things I’ve wanted to do since that version... I think the script is so wordy that I slowly just tried to trust that there were certain feelings in the movie that didn’t need dialogue, and that we didn’t have to have dialogue saying what the movie is about so much as the movie just being about it. So we slowly just tried to find places where we could strip the dialogue back and let the feeling of the photography and the mood and the performances do the work.

Moriarty: Who’s scoring it for you?

Spike Jonze:
Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. She did some of the score and is doing some of the score. Her and Carter Burwell are sort of doing it together.

Moriarty: Wow. That’s a cool collaboration.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah, it’s... yeah. It’s working out well. Karen’s sort of writing more, not trying to go score to picture so much as she is just writing themes. There’s a couple of cues in there from before, but she’s done more since then.

Moriarty: You’re about a year out now?

Spike Jonze:
Yeah. We just locked picture about three weeks ago, and we’ll probably finish all the effects by, like, May or so. Then we mix in May and we have our dates in October, so...

Moriarty: Wow. That’s a crazy long process, man.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah, it’s so long and it’s so complicated. When I was writing it, I kind of knew it was complicated, but I kind of just had to be willfully na├»ve about that to not get bogged down in it. But it’s hard. I think by the time we got to Australia and were shooting it, the realities of what we were trying to do set in. And it was just sort of exhausting and insane to be out on these cliffs in southern Australia where there’s 60 mph winds, and you’ve got all these guys in suits, and you’ve got this little boy who’s freezing. We had to abandon locations because of storms, and when the winds would get too high we’d have to evacuate and try to figure out what to do with the rest of the day while waiting for the storms to pass. So it was just total insanity.

Moriarty: Still, that’s got to all inform...

Spike Jonze:
I think you feel it probably, yeah.

Moriarty: I really felt like the location was scary. It’s a scary place to end up, and you feel that in the movie. It certainly has that sort of desolate, end-of-the-world vibe, like you don’t feel like there’s any place else but this.

Spike Jonze:
Cool, that’s great. I think it started from what Maurice said in the beginning. One of the things I was worried about is that the book is just so beloved to so many people. And as I started to have ideas for it I was worried that I was just making what it means to me, and what the book triggers in me from when I was a kid. And I’d be worried that other people were gonna be disappointed, because it’s like adapting a poem. It can mean so much to so many different people.

And Maurice was very insistent that that’s all I had to do... just make what it was to me, just to make something personal and make something that takes kids seriously and doesn’t pander to them. He told me that when his book came out, it was considered dangerous. It was panned by critics and child psychologists and librarians, because it wasn’t how kids were talked to. And it took like only two years after the book was out that kids started finding it in the libraries, and basically kids discovered it and made it what it is. And now it’s 40 years later and it’s a classic. So he said you just have to make something according to your own instinct.

Moriarty: You met him originally when you almost did HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON?

Spike Jonze:
Yeah, I was producing that.

Moriarty: I thought that adaptation, the [Michael] Tolkin script I read, I really wanted to see. I really loved what you guys were doing.

And that seemed like a wild choice when you guys were first talking about it, because you’re talking about a small, fairly slight piece of material, but you guys found a real emotional hook to that. I thought it was a very powerful script.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah, I did too, I was excited about it. I mean, in a way, it’s probably good that I didn’t do it, because I didn’t exactly know what I was doing as well, in terms of...

Moriarty: Well it was ambitious.

Spike Jonze:
It was so ambitious, yeah, in terms of effects and animation, and to make all those pieces tell one story. And I was only 24 then, so I just think I didn’t have that much experience, but I also didn’t have experience with studios. We worked on it for like a year and a half, and bit by bit, it just got away from what I had initially wanted to do.

When it finally got the plug pulled on it I found myself oddly relieved… depressed too, and sad, but there was a part of me that was relieved. And I realized later that I was relieved because it had gotten away from what I wanted to do. I think I’m much more aware of that now. It’s commercials too. Ad agencies are always the same way. They always just want to pick it away from what your initial idea was, and that one just luckily didn’t happen, I think. I mean, it’s a bummer it didn’t happen, but I’m also glad it didn’t happen in a compromised way, because it just moves away from what you want by like a millimeter a day, and then you look up a year later, and it’s miles away from what you wanted.

Moriarty: So that’s where you and Maurice sort of learned a rapport with each other. I mean, he obviously must have trusted you when he gave you this, because this really is the cornerstone of his reputation.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah. They’d been trying to make it a movie for a while, and over the years since then, like over the last ten years probably, he would just talk to me about it, like “You know, we’re trying to do WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE.

And I remember a few times I would get an idea and talk to him about it, but I always just looked at the book and was like, “It seems so perfect. What plot are you gonna add to this thing that doesn’t feel totally tacked-on?”

Moriarty: Right. And the worst case scenario of that is something like CAT IN THE HAT, where there’s all these Hollywood instincts, and there has to be a villain, and you have to do all these things to expand it to feature length, and then suddenly whatever charm it originally had kind of evaporates. Like that is the Hollywood version of how you do that wrong. So, yeah, it is kind of intimidating to think you have to keep it that simple, and yet have it be a feature.

Spike Jonze:
But I think like what you said that I realized is one of the things that has a lot of room to develop out of the book is who the wild things are. And once I realized that the wild things were sort of about wild emotions, then I suddenly felt like I had a way into it. I felt like I was following that idea, because wild emotions are scary because they’re unpredictable, either in yourself or people that you’re close to, and as a kid you don’t know how to process them. You just take them at face value. And it’s very hard to know, when you’re close to somebody, where you stop and that person starts. It becomes very blurred, even as an adult, but as a kid those relationships are just that much more overwhelming and confusing and upsetting. So I think once I realized that, I didn’t know what I was gonna write, but I at least knew that there was something to write there.

Moriarty: It makes sense. Like I’ve seen how my kid reacts if you lose control of your anger. They’re little batteries, they soak it up and then it comes back out in the craziest of ways. You don’t know how and you don’t know when, but it’s not gonna be the same coming out as it was going in. You learn real quick to be careful about what you do and express in front of them, and how.

That’s something that I don’t know if I’ve ever seen someone try to talk about in film. Like I think we try and make kids into saints in movies, and we kind of smooth off the rough edges, and it’s just so much more interesting to see a real kid, and to see how kids try and process the world.

Spike Jonze:
And I think that’s what freaked the studio out about the movie too. It wasn’t a studio film for kids, or it wasn’t a traditional film about kids. We didn’t have like a Movie Kid in our movie, or a Movie Performance in a Movie Kid world. We had a real kid and a real world, and I think that’s sort of where our problem was. In the end they realized the movie is what it is, and there’s no real way to... it’s sort of like they were expecting a boy and I gave birth to a girl.
[Laughs]

So they just needed their time to sort that out and figure out how they were going to learn to love their new daughter.

Moriarty: It’s been interesting, and because there’s been a lot of silence on Warner’s end of things, it’s caused a lot of speculation and conversation and I think anxiety from film fans. They’re like, “Oh my god, am I gonna get to see THAT movie?” So when Charlie told me that you guys seemed really happy with where you were, I just was relieved.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah. It just took a lot longer. And that was hard, but you know, in the end I got to make my movie. And with the version you saw, I was trying to get the money to do the pick-ups I wanted to do, and it just took a lot longer to finish it.

Eric Zumbrunnen: Well we were right in the middle of the strike.

Moriarty: Yeah, ugly timing.

Spike Jonze:
But yeah, somebody got a petition going, was it you guys?

Moriarty: It wasn’t us who organized it, but I saw it go by.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah, so somebody got a petition going. It was actually Michel Gondry who I heard it from, and he got it from Bjork, who signed it, so there were some pretty interesting names on there.

Moriarty: But that just shows you how much expectation there is. I think the material has such a huge fanbase, and almost everybody who writes about film right now, or at least the peers I know, were raised on this. It’s an essential piece of childhood. So I think the expectations are definitely there, and the curiosity.

Spike Jonze:
The weird thing is now there’s more awareness about it. I mean, I guess there always was because the book is indelibly imprinted into so many people’s brains at a young age, but I almost worry that because it’s taking so long there’s this expectation of it being some epic, but you’ve seen it.

Moriarty: It’s very intimate. But hopefully if you know the book, since the book is what, 82 words? It’s very small in scale, but still big in terms of the ideas it deals with.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah.

Moriarty: I love that the only real image that’s out there so far is still that one that MTV broke online from that licensing show.

Spike Jonze:
What is that?

Moriarty: Just Max running through the forest and the single leg coming in. What’s great about that is that it’s created this kind of aura of mystery about what the wild things are themselves.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah, we really didn’t want to release any images, but they made us put one out there.

Moriarty: It’s the perfect image because it’s so suggestive and still shows you almost nothing. And in a way, you really couldn’t show these things unfinished because until now they weren’t really there yet.

Spike Jonze:
We have great stills.

[to Eric]

Do you have those stills?

Eric Zumbrunnen: They were downloading them.

Spike Jonze: Oh okay. I wish we had some great shots, but we don’t really have them effects-wise. But we do have these photoshopped versions where you see them with their expressions. I think they’re downloading them right now... I wanted to show them to you. But you just see the difference from the static faces. The static faces are really beautiful, but they’re not specific in any way. But every now and then in the movie, they’ll kind of line up with a feeling, and it’s weird how well it works without anything.

Moriarty: I think it’s because they’re so close to the Sendak designs to begin with. That’s the one thing in the version I saw that I almost didn’t mind. I knew that there was more work to be done, and it would be something very different emotionally, but even just looking at them, they’re so beautiful, and Maurice’s designs are so unique that you can just kind of stare at Carol’s face.

And Gandolfini’s voice is perfect for Carol. I’ve always thought that he had this kind of weird big baby thing in his voice anyway, like it’s a little bit of the mush mouth. But that’s part of what makes him so appealing, that the big guy thing isn’t daunting with him, because he’s got that weird kind of baby thing.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah, there’s something so endearing about him. And he’s so emotionally immediate, and he’s like a kid in that way. Like kids don’t mask their emotions.

Moriarty: I don’t get the feeling with Gandolfini that there’s much confusion about what’s going on inside of him, do you? At least in the way he comes across. And it’s a really cool choice as a voice actor. Like I don’t know if I ever would have thought of him as a Wild Thing or as a lead in this kind of a film, but it’s right on.

Spike Jonze: Well, all his emotions are right there. That was why I wanted him, because there’s no separation between what’s happening on the outside and what he’s feeling.

[They showed me a series of stills on one of Eric’s screens, panoramic shots of the Melbourne locations, with wire rigs and giant suits and a huge crew. Dazzling.

The Wild Things, since I haven’t described them to you yet, each stand about eight feet high, it looks like, or at least the larger ones do. They’re very, very close to the original Sendak drawings.




















That’s not exactly what Carol looks like in the film, but it’s a good starting point in imagining him.

None of the Wild Things have articulated faces on-set, though. They’re just one expression all the time. That’s one of the boldest choices Spike made in shooting the picture. Since most of the film was shot handheld by Lance Acord, every single shot with a Wild Thing in it is going to have to be animated, and that’s going to be incredibly complex as a rotoscoping gig.

But just looking at those stills, I could see how nightmarish the shoot could have been if you’d added even one more variable onto that location. It may be a Herculean task ahead in post production for Framestore, but if they hadn’t done this, there might not be a film for them to be doing post-production on.]

Spike Jonze: On set, they were even kind of frightening... like if they ran towards you it was definitely intimidating because you just felt this mass of 4,000 pounds coming at you.

Moriarty: Lance Acord shot this?

Spike Jonze:
Yeah. To me it might be some of the best work he’s ever done, actually.

Moriarty: It’s really evocative and it’s really otherworldly, I think, because you did everything physical, and there’s that handheld feel to it. It doesn’t feel like any film like this that you’re used to. Everything is so locked down in these movies, and you know that you’ve got the ILM guys with the ball that came in and did lighting reference and you can’t move anything, and that work is dazzling and impressive, but you sort of know how the magic trick works as you watch it.

Spike Jonze:
I think in the first week, those guys basically gave up. They put their ball back in the truck. There’d be these shots where we were doing something on sand dunes, and they would take these orange tennis balls and just throw them as far as they could just to get in the shot somewhere so they’d have something to track. Like no measurements, nothing, they were like, “Just let us get something out there so we’ll at least have something to latch onto.” The whole movie had this sort of ferocity to the way we shot it.

Moriarty: We’re at a point now where audiences are so sophisticated that if you don’t reinvent things and try some different ways of doing things, your audience is ahead of you almost.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah.

Moriarty: Like DVDs somewhat ruin the illusion for us. People have this window now into what happens, so it becomes harder to kind of pull off magic.

[one particular Wild Thing comes up on Eric’s screen]

That design really freaks me out.

Spike Jonze:
The goat?

Moriarty: Yeah. And I love that. I would find that really unsettling as a kid. I find it really unsettling even as an adult. That’s a really crazy creature.

Spike Jonze:
[Laughs]
That’s crazy. I love her face too, down in the lower right-hand corner.

Moriarty: And the notion of Max having to hide inside one of the Wild Things? That’s upsetting in a lot of ways. But that’s great. I can see kids getting upset during that. It should upset you, it’s an upsetting idea.

Spike Jonze:
I went over to Lance’s house the other night and Pearl, his daughter, who just turned 10... she was asking me... cause I showed the kids the movie, all the kids that came with us to Australia, Eric’s kids and our producer Vince’s... we showed the kids the movie a few weeks ago. And Pearl’s like, “I was thinking about the movie, Spike, and what’s the moral of that story? ‘Cause it made me sad.”

And I don’t know, I think the idea that Maurice talked about is not to be scared of those feelings. Kids are complicated, and they’re in touch with all those feelings. I didn’t want to make a movie that was just sad, or just heavy, or just anxious. I think I tried to make a movie that had a lot of the other sides of kids too; there are also soft feelings and sweet feelings and I think I tried to make the movie have Max’s imagination, Max’s sense of play, of love and hope and caring, but just let him be complicated, and the world that he goes to in order to figure out what’s going on be as complicated as he needs it to be. And so, I don’t know. For better or worse, we made it.

Moriarty: I love that you’re showing it to kids, and their reaction to it is that it takes a while to sink in. That’s really cool.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah, it is cool. Focus groups with kids are really fun, and to just hear them talk about what it made them think, and what it meant. Their level of sophistication to be able to know what Max is feeling and why Max did something, and what Carol is going through, is amazing.

One of the things we wanted to do is... I don’t know if it’ll be for Nickelodeon or what, but do some TV special with kids where we sit with groups of like 4 or 5 kids at a time and just talk with them about the movie and what it made them feel, and their own feelings. I think do a special in the same way that the movie takes kids’ feelings seriously. Because the other thing with a movie this big is you have the opportunity to do all these ancillary things, and I think instead of doing the generic, cynical fast food tie-in or other merchandising that feels like more fodder or garbage just filling up the...

Moriarty: It’s obligatory. You expect all that.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah. And so we want to do things with these opportunities that are interesting, or are quality, something into themselves rather than just promotion. Like they can promote, but they also have some value. And so I think taking the opportunity to do a special and giving kids the chance to talk about their feelings – cause I know when I was a kid, I would hear other kids’ feelings and what they were going through, and you’re just so hungry for that. You feel like you’re the only one feeling that, and you want to know that other kids are going through similar things.

Moriarty: Kids are like empathy machines, like their emotions are all the way turned up and they don’t know yet that you’re only supposed to use that at certain times and other times sort of protect yourself. They’re always open to things. And I’m amazed when showing my kid stuff with kids in it, how much more he responds. I just got the Little Rascals box set. I really love when Spanky was 3, 4, 5 years old, and they had him in those movies when he was really little. I put one of those on for my kid and he immediately identifies and empathizes. He gets really invested in watching that. So I think there’s something about seeing kids your age that you recognize. Those are damn near documentary anyway. You get the feeling that they just put a bunch of props in a room and turned a camera on and said, “Okay, whatever happens, happens.”

Spike Jonze:
[Laughs]
Yeah, I don’t know how they did that.

Moriarty: So, you do get a sense that kids really identify with things onscreen and then internalize them. They don’t just watch movies as passive entertainment, they get very invested and they really connect to things. It’s part of their reality. And raising a kid around this stuff, I wonder what reality is at this point. You know, tell somebody it’s a cartoon, but then there’s WALL•E standing on the red carpet, all of a sudden it’s a documentary. And this is not pretend, it’ll be real; these are physical things.

That’s why I love the decision you made to do it like that. I think it’s so much more a tangible thing to hold onto than if you just created it all in post later.

Spike Jonze:
That was our hope. That was the feeling I wanted it to have, and every decision came out of that attempt to have it feel like it was immediate and right there.

Eric Zumbrunnen: It’s like the new STAR WARS compared to the old STAR WARS, not to make the fifteen millionth STAR WARS reference. In one of the recent ones, where young Obi-Wan Kenobi is going to the place where they make the clones in his ship, and he lands on the thing, even though there’s a big, thudding sound effect, you don’t get any sense of mass, or volume, or space.

But when they’re lifting that thing out of the swamp soundstage in
EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
, you’re like, “Wow, that thing’s heavy! Look at the effort it takes to lift that thing!” And also puppet Yoda vs. CG Yoda. Sure, CG Yoda can do all kinds of crazy flips and lightsaber battles, but it’s just not as expressive, in a way.

Moriarty: I know that, for me, I love to travel to sets and soundstages around the world. There are certain stages that I can’t wait to visit. I just went to Elstree for the very first time, and I’ve wanted to go to Elstree forever.

Spike Jonze:
What is that?

Moriarty: It’s one of the three major English stages. Like I’ve been to Pinewood, been to Shepperton, but Elstree is where they shot EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, and that carbonite freezing, where they drop Han Solo in the frozen thing? That’s the tank stage of Elstree, Stage 4. So I went, and they were shooting on Stage 4 for KICK-ASS. I wandered over to the tank section and was looking at it, all thrilled by the world “TANK” written on the floor. If you’re doing everything on green screen, there’s no tangible place you can ever go to where they physically did something. But at one point they filmed something here; this was a place that existed, so I think we’re gonna miss some of that if we go fully into this sort of digital green screen realm where nothing exists in real life.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah. It’s almost like we’re these old dudes sitting around going, “I remember when they did it this way...” and I’m sure when you’re 8 and you see the new STAR WARS movies, it has the same feeling as the old ones. But for me, I remember looking at this photo of George Lucas shooting Star Wars and Chewbacca has his arm around him. Do you remember the photo?

Moriarty: Oh yeah.

Spike Jonze:
And I just, as a kid, was so into that photo. Like, “That’s amazing, Chewbacca is hugging him!”

Moriarty: Well, it wasn’t even just the movie, it was the behind-the-scenes experiences, the magazines that came out and things like that. That’s when I decided I wanted to be a filmmaker. It wasn’t the movie. The movie was exciting and thrilling and all that stuff, but it was afterwards, looking at the fact that they were in England, and they built this, and this was real. I was like, “I can’t believe that somebody got to do that. That’s somebody’s gig. You get to go and hang out with Wookies and it comes out of your head, and then it’s made real.” I think some filmmakers will go back and forth, like Snyder for WATCHMEN went the opposite of 300 and built everything this time.

Spike Jonze:
Did you get to see any of the sets?

Moriarty: I went up to the New York sets in Vancouver, and it was amazing. He built like a five-block city thing in each direction, so no matter which way you were looking, it was New York, and the geography was right from the book. And for his actors, it has to be a different experience. It probably helps, because now it’s a geographical location; it’s a city and you can stand in it, you can feel it, and you’re not asking them to make it all up.

Eric Zumbrunnen:
React to that tennis ball on a c-stand.
[Laughs]

Moriarty: That’s so hard, especially something where the environment’s as important as it is in WATCHMEN. It’s an alternate world, so you want your cast to feel like they’ve really lived in it, stood in it.

Spike Jonze:
I think the performance we would have gotten from Max if we did the whole thing on green screen... I don’t think we could have gotten the same feeling from him that we did out at night in the desert with a giant monster yelling at him. So that’s impactful.

Moriarty: Did you work with him for a while before the film? Was there a process of getting to know him?

Spike Jonze:
A little bit, but not that much. He came in about a week and a half before we shot. We did some rehearsals and just got comfortable with each other... played, hung out, got to know each other. But the shoot was so long. I mean, we shot almost four months, so we spent a little time getting to know each other, but it was such an intense thing.

Moriarty: Which was first... the real world stuff?

Spike Jonze:
We shot the home life stuff first. But he’s amazing. For nine years old, he had so much ability to focus. He was so disciplined, like the most amazingly disciplined kid, and just the biggest heart. He just wanted me to get what I needed, and there was one night where we were doing this stuff where he was just running down the street and had to be chased, and it was a Friday night, like 10 or 11 at night, and he was just burned out.

We had 15-20 minutes before he had to legally go, and we weren’t getting it. I felt really bad for him, because he already had like dirt in his eye from this giant fan machine like an hour earlier, and he had to get his eyes washed out. So I already told him that was the last one, which was like the classic thing they made fun of me for. I’d be like, “One more! No! Wait! One more!” But anyway, I was like, “Do you think you could do it again? Because we didn’t get it.”

And he was just so tired, but he was like, “Yeah, I’ll do as much as you need. Whatever you guys need to get what you want.” So it was like this nine-year-old kid who had never been in a movie before, his first week of shooting, and he was just so committed to it.

Moriarty: Well, I like that you didn’t smooth the rough edges off. Like it doesn’t feel like you rehearsed him to death or got him to a place where he could do it by rote.

Spike Jonze:
A lot of what we did, and one of the reasons why it took so long to edit, is we’d never cut. We’d let the camera roll, sometimes through forty-minute takes, and whatever lens it was, we’d have that camera rolling, and another camera with the same lens standing by, so as this was rolling out that camera would step in.

And I’d have a mic, so I’d whisper stuff through a headpiece in his ear, and I’d play music, or be off-camera, and basically the take would go so long that it would just transcend into something else, because the camera was no longer there, it was just the dialogue and the scene.

But it makes editing so much longer, cause you’re going through the footage looking for the magic, or the moments with certain sparks of life instead of playing a scene out. And I also realized how spoiled I am working with such great actors on my first two movies. It’s like, how they could take direction was amazing. I mean, I knew they were great, and Max is a great actor, but not trained in that way where you could do a take and let it go through and just do another take. So if there was a two-page scene, we would work sections of the scene.

Moriarty: There are all these stories of how directors have approached working with kids. Like Spielberg on CLOSE ENCOUNTERS... there are these great stories about how he gets the reactions out of Cary Guffey, and it becomes real. Like whatever you’re seeing on the screen becomes real, because they don’t have the process or vocabulary for you to say, “Okay, turn this up, do this, finesse this.”

Spike Jonze:
Or if you do, it just feels fake. Like if you go, “Okay, you’re really sad. Be sad.” And then they make a face, and it doesn’t really mean anything because they don’t believe it.

Moriarty: Yeah, that’s the language you can’t really use with them so you sort of have to find a different level to communicate on.

[At this point, Spike turned to Eric and they talked for a moment about what clips they could show me.]

Spike Jonze: What else should we... I mean, I was gonna show you the dirt clod fight, but you’ve seen the movie already. I’ll just show you. At least there are a few new animation shots in the middle of it.

Moriarty: I wouldn’t mind seeing anything again.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah, it’s been awhile.

[The clip he showed is after the Wild Things have named Max their king, and he’s charged with figuring out What To Do. One of his suggestions is a dirt clod war on a rugged series of hills that gets seriously out of hand, so that one of the Wild Things (voiced by Billy Bob Thornton) gets seriously hurt and storms off, upset and angry.]

Moriarty: That’s how playing with your kid ends up so often, where you do something that accidentally hurts them and you’re like, “I’m so sorry! I’m so sorry!” And it’s so strange, because I remember playing with my dad as a kid and sometimes it would just get away from him, and I’d get held underwater or the wind knocked out of me, and it was scary, but of course, it was an accident. That’s what that scene feels like.

Spike Jonze:
[Laughs]
That’s good. So those shots were of Alexander the Goat, where he gets hit. We’ve been doing R & D, and those three or four shots are actually the only shots we’re happy with. There’s sort of like a flat mouth movement.

Moriarty: There’s real attitude there where he gets up and turns around.

Spike Jonze:
Exactly. It’s a great performance.

Moriarty: I actually didn’t realize at first that I was looking at a finished shot. You’re just like, “Oh there he is.”

Spike Jonze: Yeah. Out of like a year of R & D those are the only finished shots we have. But we just switched to Framestore, and the test shots they’ve already given us are amazing.

Moriarty: They’ve done really strong work in general.

Spike Jonze:
When I saw... what’s it called, CHILDREN OF MEN?

Moriarty: Yeah.

Spike Jonze: I just thought that baby scene was amazing, it was so moving and incredible, and I had no idea that was an animated baby. Did you know when you saw it?

Moriarty: I didn’t when I saw it, but then afterwards when talking to Cuaron about it and looking at what they did, I was flabbergasted by what they pulled off in that movie.

Spike Jonze: Yeah, that’s that company. It was amazing. Same team is doing our stuff.

Moriarty: That’s the thing. I think the invisible work that we’re getting through effects now is the most impressive stuff, where at the end of it your audience doesn’t really know what they looked at. That’s what I mean by it’s getting harder to do that to an audience. But when you do, it really does something to them.

Spike Jonze: He did it so well in that movie, the effects work.

Moriarty: Yeah, he’s got a real gift for it. Like he knows exactly how to use it as punctuation and not to ladle it on too thick. I mean, even doing a Harry Potter film... to pull off a Harry Potter film with real taste and restraint is not an easy thing.

Spike Jonze: Yeah, he’s great. I really like Cuaron. But, yeah, so those shots are it. But we just started to see stuff from these guys. They’re still trying to get the rigs, you know, figuring out how the animation rigs need to work to be able to get the faces to align. But it’s so cool, because it completes the illusion, basically. The head seems like it’s got to weigh like a thousand pounds, and once the head is moving, it feels like a mass.

Moriarty: Well, there are so many moments, like where the Wild Thing Lauren Ambrose is playing, she gets up and stands next to Carol for a moment. That’s got to play between them like a character beat, like subtle performance. So that’s really, like you were saying, the last ingredient now, some of that interaction between them.

Eric Zumbrunnen: And when you work or watch something with human actors, you get so much information subconsciously by what’s going on in their face beyond what they’re saying, and you don’t even think about it. But then when you’re watching something where you’re not getting any of that, then all this stuff starts coming through that we’d been kind of immune to until we noticed the lack of it. So now where starting to see that stuff, and it’s really coming alive.

Moriarty: It’s like a different movie for you guys all of a sudden, I would guess. It’s like, there’s that movie that you’ve been carrying around for a while, and it’s actually coming into focus.

Spike Jonze: Yeah, as you see the shots... that’s the other thing with the meticulousness of editing. It’s editing Max’s performance but also editing the suit performances. You’ve got to watch it a few times to be able to imagine what’s not there. You’re imagining what the face is gonna do, and if that’s what you do, and is his body punching that word enough? Maybe we should go back into the dailies and find a different take, roll it forward or backward. There’s no science to it, so with the suit performances... all they’re doing is listening and memorizing the beats. And the guy who’s in the Carol suit is an actor, but he’s also a dancer, so I think he used it more like music to sort of choreograph his performance, like he sort of memorized the rhythm of Gandolfini’s delivery.

Moriarty: I’d buy that it’s Gandolfini. Looking at the physical performance there, that body language is his body language. It’s creepy that that’s not him.

Spike Jonze: The guy in that suit was amazing. And also, when we started casting the people in these suits, we’d take voiceovers, like Gandolfini’s voice, and put it on a boombox during the audition. And without a suit, we would have them act along to it, and just sort of sync along to it and find it and figure out how to make it their own. And we found that the people who normally do suits and stuff had been trained so much to overdo it, like they’d be indicating it.

So we brought along suit performers and regular actors who were willing to work in a suit. And out of everybody in the cast, they’d all never been in a suit before, they were just actors who were game enough to try and learn how to live in it. Which isn’t easy, because when it comes to acting in a suit, half of it is just learning how to survive in it, like the heat, the weight of the suit, the physical strain. And then to put all that aside and give a nuanced performance in it. Those guys all trained intensively for months, they would go to the gym and work out, build up all these muscles that they would never use. So they all got into incredible shape, and then we did about a month of rehearsals in the suits, so they made the suits their own.

Everyday they’d be working with the people who made the suits, so we’d constantly be tweaking them and trying new things. By the time they were done, these guys were so comfortable in their suits... like the guy who plays Judith, whose name is Nick, would come to set before the head was on and just tumble down the hill. He’d do anything in it.

Moriarty: Just looking at the running around and the diving and the jumping in it, that looks outrageous. I really can’t imagine doing that in something that big, with restricted vision. There’s a lot of faith going on there.

Spike Jonze: Yeah, those guys were great. Well cool, I’ll give you a tour and show you around.

[At this point, we headed into Spike’s office, next door to the editing suite. There’s a scene in the film where Carol takes Max to a private place, where he has built models of the entire island and all the other Wild Things. Spike had several sections of Carol’s sculpture in his office, stacked on every available surface, and there were poster mock-ups hanging behind his desk.]

Spike Jonze: You know that Indiana Jones warehouse? Well, Warner Bros. has one of those, so I know if we let these go, they’ll just be in some crate for eternity deteriorating to dust.

Moriarty: That’s beautiful, the model that exists in the movie.

Spike Jonze: Thanks. Yeah, that’s our production designer. We’ve all worked together. Eric you met, and Lance, the DP, and K.K. Barrett. We’ve all worked together on videos, and we kind of did our first two movies together. What do you think of this as a possible poster.

[He indicated an image of a single tree, with Carol hiding behind it, spilling out on both sides and plainly visible.]

Moriarty: Wow.

Spike Jonze: I mean, we’ve barely started this process. These are some other ones that I don’t think they’re gonna go for.

Moriarty: I really like this one. This one, I would want to put on my wall. There’s a lot of poster art that I want to put on my wall, ‘cause when I was first starting in theaters as an employee or growing up, there was a lot of poster art that I thought was beautiful, like really... you would want to put it on your wall. These days, everything’s a photoshopped floating head thing, and it just makes me crazy. I don’t get why we’ve lost that this is part of the experience. When you’re walking into a theater, and you see a poster for something for the first time, it should excite you. You should be drawn to it and want to look at it, and then be curious about the film.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah.

Moriarty: That’s haunting. Carol’s such a great design anyway... those sad, sad eyes.

Spike Jonze:
[Laughs] Yeah.

Moriarty: I like this other one, and using the language of the story. ‘Cause “Let the wild rumpus start”... everybody knows that phrase. And you know what a wild rumpus is the moment you hear it. I like that one.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah, I like that one too.

Moriarty: I like anything where you kind of get a suggestion of a wild thing or part of a wild thing.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah, we’re thinking of doing a teaser in that way, maybe. We’re trying to figure it out.

Moriarty: Wow.

[He took out some more of those panoramic behind-the-scenes images, all of them striking, many of them featuring the Wild Things performers in candid half-suited moments.]

Spike Jonze: This is... the boy who plays Max, his name’s Max Records. And his dad’s Shawn Records, and his dad just took photos the whole time, so there’s a couple of them like that. He just shot behind-the-scenes the whole time. We were thinking of doing a sort of book... you know how you were talking about pulling off the magic?

Moriarty: I wouldn’t.

Spike Jonze:
No?

Moriarty: I would wait until the movie’s out, like people have had a chance to digest it. Are you doing a behind-the-scenes art book or something like that?

Spike Jonze:
Yeah.

Moriarty: Yeah, for magazines and stuff like that, like Entertainment Weekly, I would never let them have that.

Spike Jonze:
What about the behind-the-scenes art book, if that comes out at the same time as the movie?

Moriarty: Just make sure it’s not in front of kids, ‘cause I would want the younger viewers to not see these images.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah.

Moriarty: Yeah, that automatically changes the way you look at them. I hadn’t seen anything like that. It’s interesting, but up until this point, the wild things had been wild things, and that’s kind of the way you’d want to let them live. Especially when you pull off the blend.

Spike Jonze:
The other thing is the footage we have of the voice actors is so amazing, like it’s so fun to see the voice actors in this environment.

Moriarty: I might hold a lot of that for DVD. ‘Cause once it hits DVD, people will have already seen it and internalized it, but I don’t know if I’d want to see that much ahead of time. Like with Gandolfini, I would rather see him first, get to know Carol, and then see how they came together later.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah, me too. It’s hard because you’re trying to figure out what to do to promote it, and it’s so tempting, but I think you’re right, it’s better not to show it. I like that a lot.

Moriarty: I do too. I actually like both of these quite a bit. I just love that first shot in the film of Max tearing ass down the stairs and going after that dog, ‘cause that dog looks terrified.

Spike Jonze:
I think right from the beginning, with that first sequence, the studio was not used to a movie that feels like that, you know? So it’s... I don’t know.

Moriarty: Like I said, when Charlie said it sounded like it was going really well, that’s the first thing... Gary Goetzman said something to one of our guys right before Comic-Con. They were sending him down to do CITY OF EMBER or something, and they were all on a train together. I think they kind of got Gary in a corner and strong-armed him a little bit and were like, “Okay, what’s going on?”

And he was like, “I promise you, you’re gonna be happy. We’re not doing anything to it, he’s just finding the film.” So it’s nice to, on the record, have you speak about it finally.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah. You having already seen the movie too – I was surprised when Charlie told me that, but it’s awesome. I’m glad you got to see it, because...

Moriarty: It was so early that I felt like even if there hadn’t been all these restrictions on it, I still would have been hesitant to write about it at that point. ‘Cause you could tell that this was not a film that’s a “film” yet, like it’s something that he’s still finding and I haven’t seen the Wild Things perform yet and all that. But I just wanted to get word back to you guys. I’ve got no investment in it besides for enjoying the book and it really moved me. I thought what the script did so well is that it expanded on it and told it from an adult’s point of view. Like I get now what it is about childhood that is so outrageous as an experience. The film was very wise about that, and I don’t know if I’ve seen many films about feeling the way a child feels that try to make you feel the same emotions again. That’s real unusual. Like everything with kids, we try to adult them up.

Spike Jonze:
I was talking to Maurice about this. Maurice doesn’t have any kids, so it’s not like he wrote it from the point of view of having children, but the point of view of his remembrance. And when you talk to him even now about his childhood, it’s like it happened yesterday, all the things that were terrible or exciting. So I think all of his work comes from being connected to what it felt like as a boy, as opposed to writing it from a parent’s experience of a kid, which is legitimate, but different.

Moriarty: People lose their memory so quickly of what it was like. I was asking my three-year-old the other day, because we have a younger one now, if he remembered what it was like when he was that age. And already, there’s stuff that he can’t remember, or can’t express. So I wonder where it kicks in that you start to process and file things and keep them, you know? I think so much of it is just raw experience at first, like it doesn’t mean anything in any sort of context. And so much of what this feels like it’s about is learning context and learning how to process things. Even in the dirt war, even in the dialogue there, there’s so much going on. Him talking about, “When I was a little kid...” As opposed to what? Now?

Spike Jonze:
But there are kids who totally think that... like when you’re nine, you totally think that when you were six, you were a little kid.

Moriarty: “Oh my god, that was so long ago!”

Spike Jonze:
And it was! It was a third of their life. We were talking to Maurice and I said that when I have kids, I think I would make a different version of this movie. It’s just inherent. I’ve got to imagine that it’s just different as a parent.

Moriarty: You’d much more identify with the mom. ‘Cause with the mom in this movie, things go really wrong. It’s not like Max throws a tantrum and then he leaves, and there’s no real justification. It’s a scary, kind of upset world he lives in at the beginning, and Mom doesn’t handle herself perfectly. Certainly there are things she says and the way she handles things... we all hope we’re gonna be perfect parents, but chances are that we’re not, and we’re gonna act like human beings around our kids. It’s not a test screening friendly choice to have Mom yell at a kid or really have a raw burst of emotion at your kid. But you do. You unload sometimes, you can’t help it. So, like I said, you would have her voice more as a parent.

Spike Jonze: Yeah, I bet you’re right. I mean, I don’t know exactly what I would do, but I just know that in writing it, I wrote it from feelings and experiences I had that I was still connected to.

Moriarty: When did you hook up with Dave? ‘Cause Dave Eggers wrote your initial...

Spike Jonze:
Well, I wrote it with him. I hooked up with him early on. I’d been working on it for a couple months, and I brought all these notes to him, so I moved up to San Francisco and worked with Dave on it.

Moriarty: It’s a great unconventional choice. And I think maybe that’s one of the reasons I love the language so much in that first version I saw. It didn’t sound like a film, like it was coming from somebody who had been doing this for a while. There’s a very different take on dialogue, and everything else in the movie. And I wonder, was working with him a different experience? Because he’s not a trained screenwriter.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah. I mean, really, he worked with me as... I mean, he brought a lot to it, but he also was a great editor. ‘Cause I think I had so many ideas and it was just unfocused. And we would just go through it and refine it down. And that guy’s amazing. I don’t know how much you know about him, but he’s just doing shit all the time. Just so busy writing... and he has a non-profit tutoring organization that has seven branches all over the country called 826. Just the amount of stuff he does, and helping other people do their stuff, editing people’s books, publishing McSweeney’s, publishing The Believer, and then in the middle of it all taking his time out to help me on my thing. He’s got endless energy, and it’s pretty amazing. He was writing WHAT IS WHAT while we were writing the screenplay too.

Moriarty: Wow.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah, he’s great. I think I’ve got some early stuff over here. Yeah, these are the initial sculptures of the characters. It’s funny because some of them have really evolved, like he looks so different now. This one looks like a five-year-old version of what he really looks like. So does she... she looks a little Troll-y here.

Moriarty: Yeah, they’re much more grown up in the film.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah. He looks pretty much exactly the same.
[The Wild Thing he indicates is one of the craziest in the film, a squashed little buffalo-head guy who almost never talks, but who just sulks around at the edge of frame, eyeballing Max all the time.]

Moriarty: God, he’s creepy.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah, he is kind of creepy-looking and ends up being the sort of unexplained...

Moriarty: In general, it’s the size of those heads compared to how spindly the bodies are. That’s what really makes them kind of monstrous.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah, that’s definitely something they were trying to change at the beginning. They were like, “If we can shrink the heads down it would be much easier for the suit performers,” and I was always adamant about that. In the book, the head is about a third the size of the body, and we always had to sort of push on them that it had to be that proportion.

Moriarty: Those are beautiful. Very emotive.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah, like I was saying we’re doing all the merchandising and making sure that all of that stuff has that feeling.

Moriarty: Were you able to get Max’s outfit?

Spike Jonze:
I hope so. That’d be an amazing Halloween costume.

Moriarty: I would buy that in a heartbeat, man.

Spike:
[Laughs]

Moriarty: And I mean in my size. One for me, one for Toshi.

Spike:
[Laughs]

Moriarty: I love how kind of ratty it is, especially by the end of the movie. It’s all dirty and awful, but I love how lived-in it feels, like he’s really been in that thing for the whole film.

Spike Jonze:
Yeah, and it’s got like tears that were patched.

Moriarty: Wow, so even the goat was huge. You see that photo and it’s a pretty big suit.

Spike Jonze:
His head is pretty big, yeah. Oh yeah, these are by a friend of ours named Anders. He shot behind-the-scenes.

Moriarty: It’s interesting because it sounds like you were the one who really had this rapport with Max on the set. I just went to London for KICK-ASS, the film that Nic Cage that just finished, which is sort of a really crazy riff on superhero films with a bunch of costumed vigilante characters. One of them is an eleven-year-old girl called Hit Girl. This crazy little killer with samurai swords, cutting people in half and stuff.

Spike Jonze:
Is it R-rated?

Moriarty: Oh, very.

Spike Jonze:
Wow.

Moriarty: And her dad is Big Daddy, and he’s been training her since she was three, and raising her and teaching her gun training and all that stuff, so she’s a little weapon. Nic is Big Daddy. Watching him on the set, he’s the one who’s got this amazing connection to Chloe, who plays Hitgirl. You can see it in the interaction between him and his daughter. I’ve noticed that Matthew [Vaughn, the director] gives them room to relate, and Nic’s doing that, like the rapport with her belongs to him, and when she’s looking for a cue, she’s looking to Nic for the cue. So that’s interesting.

Spike Jonze:
I think that makes a lot of sense, like whenever there are parents in movies, that kind of happens, and it’s better to let that happen because it helps create that bond between them. But this movie, there sort of wasn’t... like I was sort of the parent or something.

Moriarty: There is no other authority figure in the movie. The Wild Things are kids just like he is.

Spike Jonze:
Also a lot of times I’d find a way to be the eyeline. So in this photo, that’s why I’m on the apple box, because in the beginning before he gets shoved, Max is having dialogue where he looks up to KW. So I could be right behind KW and talking to him, and if you were looking through the camera it looks like he’s talking to KW or whoever. So a lot of times, I’m the eyeline, just doing the dialogue or whatever, doing the scene with him.

Moriarty: It seems like that’s key though. As long as the kid has one person that he can trust and take cues from. That’s sort of necessary. Like watching Nic and Chloe work together you could see real chemistry, and every bit of attitude she had she was getting off of Nic, and he was giving her permission to go further, so yeah.

Spike Jonze:
Did it work in two-shots? Was it more in sort of close-ups? Could you see the difference when he was in the scene with her versus when he wasn’t?

Moriarty: In everything I saw, there was no moment where she was doing lines and Nic went somewhere else. He was always right there, always participating, even if it was just close-up stuff of her. Just giving her the same volume, the same everything else.

Spike Jonze:
That’s cool. I love him. We had the best time working together. He really works and focuses.

Moriarty: His publicist was a little wary of me being there, I guess, because he doesn’t do a lot of press and he doesn’t allow press around a lot, but he really was very accessible once I’d been there for a few days, and he kind of warmed up to me. And he was really just fascinating. I loved chatting with him about stuff.

Spike Jonze:
Totally chill.

Moriarty: Yeah. And I think far more self-aware than most people think. Like I think some people think Nic is in this vacuum and doesn’t realize how crazy some of his performances are. I got the feeling he was totally aware of how people perceive things. We were talking about THE WICKER MAN, and he was like, “How do people call that an unintentional comedy? I’m in a bear suit kicking Lelee Sobieski in the throat. I know it’s funny.”

Spike Jonze:
He just takes it so seriously that nobody knows how to take him. Like PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED, I was like, “What is that?” Like I was 15 so I didn’t really know.

Moriarty: I just love how you can always count on him to push things further, like VAMPIRE’S KISS. He ate a roach, man.

Spike Jonze:
And also just the insanity of that performance, just the balls-out fearlessness.

Moriarty: Before I sat down with Charlie I watched all the movies in a row up to SYNECDOCHE, because I kind of wanted to rev up to it. And I hadn’t seen MALKOVICH or ADAPTATION. since they came out. I gotta say, Nic’s work in that movie is so phenomenal. It’s really remarkable watching him play both sides of Charlie. Like he couldn’t be more different as those two people.

Thank you, man, for your time today. I’m dying to see the finished product.

Spike Jonze:
Well, we’ll have all the stuff done by May or so, so I’ll show it to you then.

Moriarty: Thank you so much.

Spike Jonze:
Thanks a lot for coming in.

[As a special added bonus for you today, Spike and his kick-ass publicist Michelle sent over two new shots for you today. Hopefully as the film gets closer, we’ll be able to introduce you to the individual Wild Things, but for now, enjoy these early looks at what you can expect when this film hits theatres in the fall of 2009.

Click on either one to see the jumbo version.]

























A huge thank you to Spike for his time, to Charlie Kaufman for passing on the message in the first place, to Ribbons, the greatest talkbacker nee transcriptionist alive, to Quint and Kraken for their help with the images, to Warner Bros for helping put this together, and to Michelle Robertson for her work in coordinating everyone’s time.





El Mayimbe from Latino Review Checks Out The Star Trek Presentation!

El Mayimbe here...

So tonight Paramount Pictures had a special presentation of some really cool footage from J.J. Abrams "Star Trek" here in NYC just like Warner Bros. Pictures had with their "Watchmen" footage a few weeks ago.

A select few film journalists in the area were in attendance. We caught up with ComingSoon's Ed Douglas, Mike Sampson from Joblo.com and Kel and I finally got to meet AICN's Harry Knowles who is cool as hell and a fellow Captain America fan.

Personally, I can get used to these sneak peeks. They treat you well at these events and spoil you. The only bad thing about these cocktease presentations is that just as you're getting into the story - boom CUT! You gotta wait till the movie comes out to see the rest.

The director J.J. Abrams was in the house and looks like he was loaded on Red Bull. He walked the audience through the presentation and gave the origin of how he came aboard the project. Like J.J., I wasn't a hard core Trekkie but after seeing what I saw, I can definitely get into Star Trek this summer. I totally understand the minor beef that some Trek purists might have with certain elements of the film because I'm the same way when it comes to G.I. JOE, but I feel Abrams' take will make Star Trek and that universe more accessible and universal to audiences.

Overall, the footage was really REALLY hot and there looks like there are gonna be some stand out performances. For example, Bruce Greenwood's PIKE owned every scene he was in. Excellent presence. Fellow Dominicana Zoe Saldana smoldered the screen and looks like she is gonna kill the role of Uhura.

So here is a quick breakdown of what was shown:

Scene 1: Growing up, we used to have a saying, the guys who can fight and fight well, fight like James T. Kirk - "Yo, don't f*** with me because I can get down like Captain Kirk!" In hip hop culture, Captain Kirk never lost a fight. Corny I know, but in this scene we see a young Kirk get down in a bar fight after hitting on Uhura. In a nutshell, this scene is the CALL TO ADVENTURE scene where Pike recruits Kirk to join the Federation and naturally Kirk refuses at first. Kirk then drives his motorcycle in that shot from the trailer where he looks at the Enterprise being built and makes his decision to join Starfleet - our ACCEPTANCE OF THE CALL scene. Very Joseph Campbell.














Scene 2: Three years later, we catch up with Bones and Kirk where Kirk has a serious infection of sorts and has chicho hands. A bad side effect. Bones sneaks Kirk onto the sick bay of the Enterprise. Kirk has a gut instinct of some impending danger for Pike and the Enterprise and warns Pike. We also get to see John Cho as Sulu and Anton Yelchin as Chekov, a pretty cool intro to the crew overall.

Scene 3: Easily my favorite preview scene because we see Leonard Nimoy as Spock. Kirk has somehow hooked up with "Future Spock" after being kicked off the Enterprise by Zachary Quinto's "Young Spock" We also see Simon Pegg as Scotty. Kirk seems to be stuck on this Ice Planet and needs to get back to the Enterprise with Scotty's help. Future Spock tells Scotty that his trans wrap theory (which Scotty has yet to discover) is correct and I guess that is how Kirk will get back. Nimoy's Spock does that famous Vulcan hand sign that Kel and I for the life of us can't do. Nimoy looked really cool in his signature role.








Scene 4: A bad ass action scene. We get to see Kirk, Sulu and a red shirt go on a sabotage mission to stop the Romulans from drilling a hole into Vulcan. We also get a quick glimpse of Winona Ryder as Spock's mom. Kirk, Sulu, and the red shirt do a serious Halo drop from Space into Vulcan's atmosphere. Upon landing on the drill, a showdown ensues and we get to see Sulu blaze a sword like Storm Shadow. In other words, Sulu is a bad ass sword wielding ninja in J.J. Abram's Star Trek! Them Romulans are some ugly motherf*****s and get pwned by Kirk and Sulu.



















Overall, I had a great time and think the film is gonna play very well across the board. Again, the footage looks really hot. With Star Trek, Transformers 2 and G.I. JOE, Paramount will be able to literally print money next summer.

A special shout and thanks to Paramount's Tamar for hooking it up.

In the meantime, you can follow my updates on TWITTER!





As much as I could think of several who could star in this, I guess they have their own ideas -

Disney Making The World's Most Annoying Man

Disney has bought the spec script The World's Most Annoying Man from Kevin Kopelow and Heath Seifert for Andy Fickman to produce, reports Variety.

The plot revolves around a man who is forced to travel cross-country with his annoying brother in order to get to his own wedding.

Kopelow and Seifert are co-exec producers on Disney Channel's new series
"Jonas," starring the Jonas Brothers.

Kopelow was a writer on Nickelodeon's TV series
"Kenan and Kel" and penned the feature comedy "Good Burger," while Seifert also wrote for the kids cable shows "Kenan and Kel" and "All That."






Q&A: Bolt Stars And Creators

Bolt, Disney Animation's upcoming 3-D computer-animated movie, is something new: the first production from Disney's traditional animation studio created under the stewardship of Pixar creative giant John Lasseter (Toy Story).

Lasseter, now the chief creative office of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, served as executive producer to directors Chris Williams and Byron Howard. And it was the creative process that Lasseter helped perfect at Pixar that informs
Bolt.

Bolt
stars the voices of John Travolta as the title character, a dog who thinks he's actually the super-powered canine he plays on TV, and Miley Cyrus as Penny, his "person." Susie Essman voices Mittens, a world-weary cat, and animator Mark Walton makes his acting debut as the voice of Rhino, an overenthusiastic hamster. When Bolt loses his way, Mittens and Rhino join him on a cross-country quest to rescue Penny.

Travolta, Essman and Walton joined Lasseter, Williams and Howard in a news conference at Disney studios in Burbank on Nov. 17 to talk about Bolt, which opens Nov. 21. Following is an edited version of the first part of the news conference; the second part runs on Wednesday.

John, what was your process to do a voice and get in touch with your inner dog or superhero?

Travolta:
Fortunately, I'm already in touch with my inner dog. Secondly, it is a new process for me--or it was a new process for me. And although I had done advertisement voice-overs as a kid--I did radio and television voiceovers, I was very comfortable with a microphone--but I had not yet gone on a journey of discovering how animated features are put together. So, really, our director here and his partner really helped me, guided me through this process, because it's to some degree a leap of faith, because you don't have the other actors with you, and you don't really know what the animators are conjuring up as an end result. Therefore, you have a bit of a "Take me there, show me the way and I'll just give you Chinese menu options." So you do 15 to 25 versions of one sentence. Well, then the animators hopefully like one of them, and they put it together, so that's kind of it.



Working with Miley, you probably didn't record your voice part with her, but how about singing the duet, "I Thought I Lost You," with her?

Travolta:
We finally did the video together, where we sang together, but we had to sing our parts separately, like Frank and Barbra did, I guess, in the duet. But we did do the video together where we sang together.

What was that like? Are your kids nuts about her?

Travolta:
I was so popular when I got home after the news of doing a song with Miley and doing a movie with her was big enough news. Then singing and dancing with her was a whole other [thing]. I can dine out on that for months. ...

Did you draw on any of your action movie experience from Face/Off or Broken Arrow, because this is like a bombastic action movie in some places?

Travolta:
Yes, actually, I did, because, again, I wasn't sure. And Chris was directing, I wasn't sure how much of a reality to put [in] ... Am I Clint Eastwood at some points? And I felt, well, maybe a little bit. My John Travolta in Broken Arrow or these other action movies, Face/Off, and I thought, "You know, it's an animated feature geared mostly towards young people, so I can't do the edgier stuff, but I can do a modified version of that and then balance it with all the naivete and guilelessness." So to some degree, yes.

Williams: Like one of the things we were able to tap into with Bolt, I mean, a lot of the great roles that John has played, he's played real heavies, real tough guys, and he's always great. I think one of the reasons for that is that there is, if you don't mind me saying this, sort of innately likeable, genuine sweet side to John that always is there. And so I think we knew that he was going be the right guy to play Bolt.

Travolta: Balance it out, yeah.

John Lasseter, what is this quality that's able to catch the attention of children and hold onto adults?

Lasseter:
It's quality. You know, quality is the best business plan. You know, when I came in, ... it'll be three years in January when they announced that Pixar and Disney were merging. There was a number of projects already kind of in the works that I jumped in to work on and help.

Bolt [then called American Dog] had just gotten started, so it was one of the ones that I really rolled my sleeves up and said, "This one I want to make great for the studio, for Walt Disney, the whole company, but also for this studio in particular, all the artists here." ...

If you put out a bad movie, it's not going to go anywhere. It'll go for a little bit. But if you do a really good movie, then it starts giving it legs, and people will like [to] watch it again. My wife always said, "Make sure you make your movies not for the first time someone sees it, but for the 100th time a parent has to suffer through it on video." It's so true. Because, honestly, it's about the depth of the characters, the storytelling and finding that true emotion. Walt Disney always said, "For every laugh, there should be a tear." It's about making things funny and having the humor come from the characters. But also it's about the heart. ... If you get people invested in the characters and the journey that these characters go through, where you really like these characters, and then you get them into true situations, then that's where those emotions come from. ...











Bolt (left, voiced by John Travolta), Mittens the cat (Susie Essman) and Rhino the hamster (Mark Walton).

This is the first Disney animated movie that's like a Pixar movie. We've heard about the Pixar story development process and how that feeds into their quality. Did you bring that over or was it a completely different process?

Lasseter: First of all, a studio is not its building. A studio is its people. Pixar, the one thing we did bring from Pixar is this notion of making the studio a filmmaker-led studio, a filmmaker-driven studio.

What that means is, ... instead of an executive-led studio where the stories are thought of by a group of development executives, and a director is assigned to it, we instead go to the filmmakers--have faith in those filmmakers--and the stories come from them. And we all surround them with the other directors and story guys. We create a brain trust, and we're all very honest with them about their movie. There's no mandatory notes at this studio. So that philosophy has been kind of brought over.

But other than that, it's all the filmmakers here at this studio. We're like cousins. Every now and then, we'll take a film up to Pixar and show it to the brain trust up there, or the Pixar films will come down here and show it to the brain trust down here, but everything is kept very, very separate.


Howard: Anyone in the hallway, I think, in the studio now feels they can speak up about the movie, because they feel invested. They feel like anyone--if you're working at the studio--that's my film, too, and that camaraderie and, I think, that care goes a huge way in making a film. Especially when you're making a film on a tight schedule, as we were. Because we knew the film had to be great. We knew we wanted to, for John and for Ed [Catmull], who are running this place now, we wanted to make them proud of us and show them what we could do. And just the sense of pride that people have in a project is so much greater when you feel like you're listening to them. So that sense of open communication came with kind of the Pixar package. I think that's why the films are so great. They beat their stories up. They don't settle for just OK. They want to do something genuinely great.










Bolt saves the day in his TV show within a movie.

Williams: Yeah, I would say that when people say, "This feels like a Pixar movie," we take that as high praise, of course. Maybe what they really are saying is that the characters really resonate with them. There's something very rich about these characters, and I think that only comes when you really open yourself up to criticism and when you take the notes and when you are willing to dispense with ideas and build something better. And that really all stems from John and Ed Catmull. I think that we all understood that this is John Lasseter's first Disney movie. We all understood that this had to be great, that this marks a new era now with John here. And so he's a very inspirational leader. I think everyone rallied around that idea of John being our boss, this being the first Disney film.

Lasseter: And it's interesting because Pixar films are made in the model of Walt Disney and the films he made. That's where these movies are absolutely for everybody. They have the humor, they have heart and they're very smart stories. When you do something right, as Steve Jobs always said, they could really last for a very, very long time. That's something he always talked to me about.





SilverHawks Interpretations

Sean "Cheeks" Galloway - Character Designer for The Spectacular Spider-Man, posted his versions of some of the SilverHawks villains on his Blog -

Windhammer and Mo-Lec-U-Lar












Buzz-Saw and Mon*Star
















Hynden Walch Teaches 3 Voice Acting Workshops in Los Angeles Dec 5-7, 2008

Voice actor Hynden Walch (Teen Titans' Starfire and Gurren Lagann's Nia) will be hosting 3 one-day voice acting workshops in Los Angeles, CA, on December 5, 6, and 7, 2008. The workshop will cover auditioning, recording sessions, agents, contracts, and the ins and outs of the voice acting industry, along with plenty of time on microphones and the opportunity to read from shows Walch has in development. Two of the dates will be for adults, and one will be for kids and their parents. The class is open to anyone interested in attending, and Walch will work with each student individually via e-mail prior to the workshop to customize their experience. The workshop will be $350, and a deposit of $100 is required to hold your place in the class.

For full details and to place a deposit for a workshop, visit the official Hynden Walch Voice Acting Workshop web site, or click on the image below to see the workshop flyer.

(In a related story, read Toon Zone's interview with Walch conducted after her workshop in New York City.)



















Cartoon Network's Christmas '08 Programming: Chowder, 6Teen, and More

Cartoon Network has released information about its upcoming Christmas and holiday-themed programming, which will kick off on December 4, 2008, at 8:00 PM (Eastern/Pacific) with the debut of the Chowder holiday episode "Hey, Hey it’s Knishmas" (left). Other holiday highlights include the debut of a 6Teen special "Deck the Mall," Batman: The Brave and the Bold's "Invasion of the Secret Santas!" (guest starring Red Tornado), a special titled In Search of Santa, and the premiere of the feature film Doogal. Other highlights include the Christmas episodes of Camp Lazlo, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, The Powerpuff Girls, Johnny Bravo, Ed, Edd, n Eddy, The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, and Krypto the Superdog.





Intel kicks off Mass Animation project on Facebook

"And the award for Best Animated Short Film goes to... an Internet community?"

Intel Corporation announced Monday the start of Mass Animation, the first collaborative, worldwide effort to produce a computer-generated animated short film for theatrical release.

Artists around the world are invited to animate the shots of a five-minute, CGI-animated short film titled Live Music, which is produced and directed by Yair Landau, former president of Sony Pictures Digital. The collaboration, through a unique application built on the Facebook Platform, will run through January 30.

Animators, regardless of experience, may begin work immediately, and community voting will open Monday, November 24 at cts.businesswire.com/ct/CT?id=smartlink&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fmassanimation&esheet=5832038&lan=en_US&anchor=www.facebook.com%2Fmassanimation&index=2.

Live Music is inspired by William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" and early CGI films. Set in a musical instrument store, the story follows Riff, a rock 'n' roll guitar, who, as Landau describes it, "falls in love to the wrong song, but ends up with Vanessa, the classical violin of his dreams."

The story is conveyed through the universal language of music, allowing the expressions and actions of the characters to be instantly relatable globally. The instruments are brought to life through original compositions and familiar rock tunes played principally by legendary guitarist Steve Vai as Riff and acclaimed violinist Ann Marie Calhoun as Vanessa.

"Mass Animation's first project, Live Music is a great story that we are excited to tell through a breakthrough Facebook application," Landau said. "This new method of creating films draws upon a global community and social technology to allow people to come together in a whole new type of creative collaboration. Animators around the world will get a chance to showcase their talent and imagination in the film; animation fans will have a say in which shots best convey the story and characters, and therefore deserve to make the final cut."

"This project is about the magic that can happen when thousands of artistic people all over the world put powerful computing tools to use in the spirit of collaboration," said John Cooney, online programs manager with Intel's Partner Marketing Group. "The power of the Intel Core i7 processor technology, introduced today and part of the project's prize package, makes it possible for content creators to design, animate and innovate."

The tools and 3-D models that animators will need to collaborate on this project, including a limited-duration version of Autodesk Maya 3D Animation software are provided, and can be accessed through the Mass Animation application on Facebook built by Aniboom.

Dell will be awarding a Dell Studio XPS desktop PC powered by an Intel Core i7 processor to animators whose creation is rated the best by the community on a weekly basis. An international jury of animation experts will select the shots to be considered for the film. As director, Landau will have the final say as to which submissions make the final cut.

Animators whose work makes it into the finished product will receive on-screen credit and $500 U.S. in compensation.

In addition to Intel and thousands of participants in the project, Mass Animation's partners in making Live Music include Dell, Autodesk, Reel FX Entertainment and Aniboom.

Visit cts.businesswire.com/ct/CT?id=smartlink&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fmassanimation&esheet=5832038&lan=en_US&anchor=www.facebook.com%2Fmassanimation&index=11 to start collaborating.





















Through the Facebook Platform, Mass Animation will enable animators and animation fans to collaborate on the short film titled Live Music. (Graphic: Business Wire)





Science-fiction composer Irving Gertz dead at 93

Composer Irving Gertz, noted for his music for science-fiction and horror movies and TV shows in the 1950s and 1960s, died Friday in Los Angeles. He was 93.

He contributed music to such movie shockers as It Came From Outer Space, The Monolith Monsters, The Alligator People, The Creature Walks Among Us and The Incredible Shrinking Man.

His sole animation credit was for Daffy Rents, a 1966 Looney Tune from DePatie-Freleng Enterprises. In it, Daffy is out to capture Speedy Gonzales (who is driving cats to nervous breakdowns) and employs the aid of a robot named Herman.

Gertz provided music to over 200 movies, often without screen credit. He also wrote scores for such TV series as Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Across The Seven Seas, America, Peyton Place, The Invaders, Land of the Giants and Daniel Boone. In radio, he composed for NBC's Screen Directors Playhouse.

Born in Providence, Rhode Island on May 19, 1915, he studied with Wassili Leps at the Providence College Of Music.

Following Second World War service with the Army Signal Corps, he studed with Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Ernst Toch, both well-known West Coast composers.

Gertz's first movie work was an uncredited co-composing stint for The Devil's Mask (1946). Thorugh the late 1960s, he worked for Columbia, Universal, United Artists, RKO and 20th Century-Fox, in addition to independent producers.

He wrote several concert works, including a setting of Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" for chorus and orchestra. Other concert works included "Boutade For Orchestra," "Liberty! Liberte!" and "Salute To All Nations."

Irving Gertz is survived by his wife of 64 years, Dorothy, as well as two daughters and four grandchildren.












Irving Gertz with his wife Dorothy and Xenomorph (from 1953's It Came From Outer Space). (Photo: Monstrous Movie Music).





CO drives "Oz" filmmaker off the Yellow Brick Road

California-based Gigapix Studios Inc. has been barred by Colorado from seeking investors in the state for its hoped-for animated version of The Wizard of Oz.

Colorado securities commissioner Fred Joseph announced Tuesday that he has entered into a final cease-and-desist order against Gigapix Studios Inc. and Oz3D LLC, along with their manager, Christopher Blauvelt, for offering unregistered securities for sale in the state. Both companies are from Chatsworth, California.

Oz3D was trying to raise $20 million to finance the animated film, the Denver Business Journal quoted the Colorado Division of Securities as saying. Gigapix offered shares at $1 each, claiming that these would rise in value to $5 to $10 when the company went public, the division alleged.

Similar action was taken against Gigapix by Wisconsin securities regulators in 2005 for the sale of unlicensed securities. And in September this year, Oregon regulators issued a cease-and-desist order against Gigapix and Blauvelt, levying a $20,000 fine in the bargain.

However, $15,000 of that fine was suspended pending Gigapix's compliance with remaining terms of the order. These included filing reports with the department for three years documenting any sales made in Oregon under sales exemptions in the state's securities law.





Burny Mattinson -- The First 55 Years Are the Toughest

We would be remiss in not noting the dinner held at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena on Friday honoring longtime Disney employees.

Burny Mattinson, who's done almost everything that can be done at the Disney Animation Studio and worked with almost everybody, was honored with his fifty-five-years-and counting trophy. This comes on top of his Disney Legends nod (albeit with a misspelled last name on the website).

I posted in greater detail about Burny in August, and there's a podcast from Clay Kaytis' website, so I'll just add my congratulations on his award, and his astonishing longevity.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

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