Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Even More Tex Avery Model sheets

It's been a while, but once more we dig into the Amby Paliwoda collection of MGM Tex Avery Model sheets. Amby let me copy these and more almost 30 years ago at Duck Soup Produckions, as a reward for being a hard working assistant animator. Too cool! Enjoy.
Garden Gopher.
Garden Gopher by klangley Fox Hunt
Who Killed Who

Tex Avery - Who Killed Who (1943) by TYKUN Dog Gone Tired

Doggone Tired (1949) Tex Avery MGM 1 by andythebeagle And a Harmon - Ising classic, Lonesome Stranger.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

From Power Tools to Lollapalooza -1985 to 1991

There was a five-year period during my animation career where I became a serious after hour’s scenester. Luckily this was during the most robust renaissance of underground Los Angeles culture and nightlife of the late 20th century. After the waning of the punk/new wave late 70’s and early 80’s, the cool club scene was moribund until around 1985. Enter club Power Tools! The Park Plaza Hotel in Mac Arthur Park was the last home of Power Tools, which was replaced by the huge Goth nightclub Scream, the vibe from both clubs eventually paved the way for what would become Lollapalooza.
(Compilation of sources-Nancy Rommelmann) “There is no doubt that it was the greatest club ever,” says A-list L.A. party promoter Josh Richman. During a meteoric two-year run, Power Tools attracted the ’80s A-list: George Michael and Grace Jones, Prince and Mickey Rourke, Pee-wee Herman, David Bowie and Matt Dillon. But at this raucous weekly club, celebrities were the sideshows. The main event was the mix of then emerging So Cal cultures—hip-hop, skateboarding, surf punk—colliding with rock upstarts (the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beastie Boys) and art stars (Andy Warhol, Keith Haring). I personally saw Andy Warhol walking around taking photos, I wasn’t too far out of art school, and so it was just too surreal to actually see him in action.Below is a pic of Keith Haring body painting a Go-Go girl.
Power Tools started when two cash-poor club kids, 23-year-old DJ Matt Dike and UCLA student Jon Sidel, threw a party in a warehouse, put up an impromptu art piece of broken black and- white TVs and set the dance floor on fire with Dike’s fresh mishmash of music on the turntables. Conceived in part as a response to New York’s famed Area, the roving club soon touched down in the glorious, if decrepit, Park Plaza Hotel across from MacArthur Park. Each Saturday, the club was reborn with go-go girls upstairs and theme nights riffing on everything from superheroes to religious leaders. It was an era of L.A. nightlife that prized innovation and ingenuity over fame and flash. And it became a launching pad for nightlife kingpins Sean MacPherson and Sidel, co-owners later of the influential Olive on Fairfax. JON SiDEL: We started looking for new spaces and Power Tools became a roving illegal nightclub—that was a lot of the allure. Remember, there were no cell phones: You got to take an adventure to find this club. Christopher NEAL ROMMELMANN (then: doorman; now: actor): No one would know where the new spot was if I wasn’t outside with my black Triumph and beret on. And we always thought, “Maybe no one will show up,” but they always did. SEAN MACPHERSON (then: business and philosophy major at USC; now: bar/ restaurant/hotel entrepreneur): It was a wild goose chase to find it, but then when you got there, it was sort of a pot of gold. Everyone really had to make the effort to get there, so it was sort of self-selecting. JON SIDEL: We eventually landed at the rooftop of the Embassy Hotel. We would do these psychedelic projections on the dome, and we had two go-go dancers, and that’s when the whole thing just went from having 100 people, to having 200 or 300 people in line trying to get in. In late 1985, Power Tools moved to the Park Plaza Hotel on the edge of MacArthur Park. Its interior was tired, but the Neo-Gothic building was huge and the price—the guys took the $10 door cover and the hotel took the bar profits—was right.
SEAN DELEAR (then: artist; now: artist and singer): The Park Plaza was a run-down dump: scary, scary, scary, falling apart. The ballroom upstairs couldn’t be used because the ceiling vents were falling in, and when Matt put on music, it was like, crash! Oops, not using that room! Magda Berliner (then: FIDM student; now: fashion designer): MacArthur Park [seemed like] the No. 1 homicide district at the time. If you went on the corner you could pretty much guarantee that one out of 10 people would get stabbed. Doug Fleming (then: scenester; now: attorney): Every week, we’d go to City Hall and get a one-night dance permit. Jon Sidel: We were always trying to stay one step ahead. We really felt we had to answer Area and say, “This is what we’re doing in L.A.” We might only have 500 bucks and a box of duct tape, but we’re going to do themes, too. Barry “double-B” Blumberg (then: UCLA English major; now: president of Smosh.com): We built guillotines. We built an iron lung. For Religious Superstars night, we needed a population for Jim Jones’ Jonestown. We went down to Skid Row in my Rabbit convertible and told the guys there they could have $25 and all the beer they could drink. My car was overrun. We drove five or six of them to Power Tools and they performed well. They acted, they “died” every 20 minutes, and they drank the Kool-Aid. Christopher Neal roMMelMann: For Rock Star night, I brought in my boa constrictors and we announced, “Snake feeding in the kitchen!” We fed them rats. One freaked out and ran through the crowd. Barry Blumberg: On Cereal night, I convinced the market where I worked as a box boy when I was 14 to loan us the cereal after they closed. Which today seems like… the millions of health code violations committed that night! And then we had to restock the shelves before they opened. Apparently, it was not returned in the same condition that it left in. Neal Fraser (then: 15-year-old ninth-grader; now: chef/owner of Grace and BLD): On Love/ Hate night, someone was walking around with a plate of liver and onions. On Super Hero night, they had a woman shaved from head to toe, painted silver and standing on a surfboard. Jon Sidel: We did a party for Keith Haring and he painted all our go-go dancers. Can you believe it? Dude, I should have had him paint a thing for me! I could sell it for like half a million bucks! Rick Ross: [Power Tools] at that point was the melding of hip-hop, high art, low art and gutter European trash. You could try some sh*t that no one had seen. It just was freestyle, you know? Rose Apodaca (then: scenester; now: co-owner of home boutique A+R): I was barely out of high school when I first went to Power Tools. The flashback is always the same: pink, orange and green flashes on the walls from some arty art school projection, an ear-splitting mix of music, and me in some crazy tutu with a giant lime green sash and bow at the back and a black 1950s bra top. Tarina Tarantino (then: model; now: accessories designer): It was such an incredible eye-candy fashion scene, so much glitter and glam. I saw Grace Jones there one night, wearing a white backless cape dress with a boxing hood— probably Miyake or Ala├»a. To me it was like the ’80s version of Studio 54. Christopher Neal roMMelMann: A buddy of mine from Malibu brought Mickey Rourke, Chris Penn, maybe Rob Lowe and some others to see the club and to meet me. I went to shake Chris Penn’s hand but there was no open hand, just a lit and blazing double. Sean deLear: One night, my spike heel went through George Michael’s espadrille, and I said, “Queen, you’re wearing espadrilles in a nightclub?” Doug Fleming: George Michael was always there, wasted on X, trying to take one of us home. Christopher Neal roMMelMann: Jane’s Addiction used to play in the lounge. Nobody knew who they were and nobody gave a f*ck. Poor Perry was getting no respect. Doug Fleming: You’d have Matt Dillon, Crispin Glover, Pee-wee Herman, all blazing in the DJ booth; John Doe of X doing an acoustic set in the lounge; the Del Rubio triplets singing in a ballroom upstairs; and Tony Alva skateboarding in another room. N’dea davenport (then: go-go dancer; now: singer): You had Nina Hagen and Prince; Ice-T, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fishbone, N.W.A. No one was freaking out that they were there. They could party like any other citizen. They could relax and mush in with everyone else. There was a VIP room, but there wasn’t a VIP. Jon Sidel: By April of ’86, we were huge. We kind of owned ’86. And Matt Dike in the ’80s, he was a star in every sense of the word. He looked great. Chicks loved him. He was in Interview magazine, Vanity Fair, and when he got on the turntables, the place went nuts. Jonathan gold (then: member of the band Tank Burial; now: Pulitzer winning writer and dining critic at LA Weekly): Matt Dike was the most magical DJ—probably ground zero for DJ culture in Los Angeles. He had this instinctive knowledge of the dance floor: when the percolating go-go beats he liked would work, how to mix Van Halen and the Scorpions in with hip-hop, just how much shrunk his audience would take, and than, just at the point when people were on the brink of walking away, putting on “Brick House.” By the spring of 1987, Dike and Sidel were running two other clubs downtown, only to see them leech attendance from Power Tools. In April 1987, they decided to shut down the mother ship. Christopher Neal roMMelMann: We weren’t getting many people toward the end. Maybe 700. On the last night, I didn’t figure anyone would come, so I got there late—and there were 5,000 people in the street. Jon Sidel: Power Tools’ last night was the craziest. I just let it rip. I said, “Let anyone in.” We weren’t a little over occupancy; we were like triple occupancy. Te police told me it took two helicopters and 11 squad cars, and the fire department wanted the cops to throw me in jail. Maria Gallagher (then: go-go dancer; now: film producer): People were getting wildly, wildly, wildly wasted. Just losing their minds. I was screaming, “I’m on the list to get out!” Sean MaCpherSon: Now, it seems, [nightlife] is about bottle service and flashy cars and celebutantes. What Power Tools was about was some sort of counterculture. I don’t know of a place that does that right now. N’dea davenport: Power Tools really provided a support system. Matt Dike started Delicious Vinyl, which led to my musical future: I got a record deal with Delicious and then became a member of Te Brand New Heavies. Maria Gallagher: I owe my career to Power Tools. It’s where I met [filmmaker] Tamra Davis. She hired me to produce my first music video: Young MC’s “Bust a Move,” which Matt Dike wrote for Delicious Vinyl. As much as it mattered that I went to film school, it was those connections that paid off. Rick Ross: What Power Tools did for everybody, from Sean MacPherson to Sidel to Matt: that was their postgraduate program in being an entrepreneur and having fun. Sean McPherson: I didn’t realize it at the time—and maybe if I had, it would have saved me from my career path. But Power Tools definitely was [a launching point]… Jon and I did Small’s, Small’s begat Olive. And the story goes on from there.
Before alternative radio, before Lollapalooza, there was Jane's Addiction. Jane's Addiction started as an obscure L.A. band on a tiny independent label and grew in influence over five years. Shortly after the closing of Power Tools, the next cool phase of nightclubbing was bubbling up in the goth scene, club Scream which roughly started in 1985. Like the Doors were the house band for the Whiskey, Janes Addiction was the house band for Scream. (up from being a side show act at Power Tools). Scream was indeed an oasis in Hollywood/LA at the time from the play to play Sunset Strip big-hair bands, although guests like Guns and Roses would be invited from time to time to Scream.
My Scream days AND Power Tools days always come back to me whenever I see that Park Plaza Hotel and the “scenester staircase”, through the whole hotel as it was massive and had so many different secret rooms. The bands played in a different area than the dancing. Some of the bands at Scream were: Faith No More, The Sea Hags, The Nymphs, Divine Weeks, Caterwaul Living Colour, Lords of the New Church, The Cult, among others.
According to the book "Whores: An Oral Biography of Perry Farrell and Jane's Addiction" (By Brendan Mullen), Scream lasted from '85-'89 at various locations. Mike Stewart came up with the name based on the famous Munch painting and his best friend Steve Elkins created the logo. He is quoted in the book:
"Suddenly in the late '80s, everyone liked everything. It was bizarre how everything opened up all of a sudden. There were all these small factions: punk rockers, mods, rockabillys, the goths, all the different factions, but the timing of Scream was just right: We were able to draw a little bit of everybody. They all liked looking at each other and hanging out together again and it all came together at one time."
------------------ By 1991, their pulling power was so great that Perry used it to create Lollapalooza , a new type of rock tour--but also their farewell as a group. By 1990 The local Hollywood scene was now dead as all the good bands were now signed and touring, the few musicians that were left went to Seattle to try out for bands to get signed. The circus had moved on, and Lollapalooza was that traveling circus. The rest is history

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Duck Soup and the 6 old men

Animators have all heard of the fabled 9 Old Men of the classic period of the Walt Disney Studios, I personally started my animation career under the 6 Old Men of the Santa Monica commercial studio, Duck Soup Produckions. It was a pivotal and illuminating experience, starting at age 14 in 1974. I had the pleasure of mentoring under and meeting some of animation’s heavy hitters in the 70’s and 80’s- Betty Boop creator, Grim Natwick, animation director Duane Crowther (UPA), animator Corny Cole (Looney Tunes), animation director Frank Terry, master background painter Toby Bluth, and animator Amby Paliwoda (Disney). All of whom are no longer with us, but are truly remembered for their talent and generosity. Duck Soup Produckions (or Duck Studio) was started by Roger Chouinard and Duane Crowther in 1972. It was the Tiffany’s of the small commercial studios that dotted the Los Angeles landscape in the 70’s and 80’s, which included Film Fair, Spungbuggy, Murikami-Wolf, and Kurtz and Friends. As mentioned in earlier posts, I first met animators Corny Cole and Sam Kirson in 1974 while drawing cartoons for my mother’s first grade class in Santa Monica. Sam Kirson’s son, Wolf introduced me to his father Sam and Corny, who in turn invited me to the Duck Soup studios for a visit. I was invited to a studio cartoon screening of Disney's "Mother Goose Goes Hollywood", there I met, Duane Crowther, Amby Paliwoda, Grim Natwick, Arnie Wong, Mark Kausler, and many other talented folks. Duane was kind enough to shoot pencil tests of my early attempts at animation on the end of their commercial dailies. I was bitten by the animation bug right there! Later during college summer vacations in the late 70’s I was hired by the studio as a runner/ assistant animator, I was happy as a kid in a candy store! I worked there for 5 summers until I graduated from CSULB.
Duane Crowther- From the UPA studios and also of the Beatles "Yellow Submarine" movie was my main mentor at the studio. Duane was very helpful, generous, and funny. He taught me to loosen up my drawings and snap up my timing. Duane directed most of the classic Kellogs spots and many others like Crave Cat Food, Nestle’s Quick, Froot Loops, etc.
Grim Natwick- Was a close friend of Duane’s from the UPA days, (probably on UPA's Rooty Toot Toot). Amby knew Grim from the "Snow White" days at Disney. Grim freelanced at the studio in the early 70's. Grim started in the silent film days, and lived to be over 100.
Corny Cole- Was my animation surf mentor, I also worked with Corny at Spugbuggy and on the first relaunch of "Alvin and the Chipmunks" in 1983. Corny did the amazing layouts on the "Sylvester Nine Live" spots and many Kellogs commercials. Corny went on the teach life drawing at Cal Arts.
Frank Terry- Frank directed many of the "Raid" commercials and the more experimental spots at the studio using the latest post 70’s graphic techniques. Frank went on to head the Cal Arts animation department.
Amby Paliwoda- Amby was a classic Disney animator who started with Walt in 1935 and worked there for over 25 years. I assisted Amby with many of the Kellogs spots, and even a talking dog for Levis. That got a me gig at ILM animating JFK on the film Forrest Gump, which won an Oscar in 1994 for VFX.
Toby Bluth- Toby was the master watercolor background artist for many of the classic Kellog’s commercials, and also directed the MGM feature "Babes in Toyland". His watercolors still inspire me to this day, reminding me of Harmon Ising cartoons and early Disney shorts! His brother is director Don Bluth who you might have heard of. I’ll be forever grateful and inspired by these men, I was lucky to live in an age when animation secrets were handed down to each generation by careful guidance and patience. I’m now in my 50’s and I still use those skills today. I’m now in the process of completing my first independent feature film, The Kustomonsters, which is a compilation of shorts which I have done over the last few years, as well as heading up the reboot of "Rainbow Brite" for Hallmark. I owe these men a a debt of gratitude for their early inspiration. Duck out.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The 2d indie animated feature movement

In this era of multi million dollar 3d animated films which must turn a 300 million dollar profit or be doomed a failure by Wall Street, it’s curious to know that independent 2d animated features are bubbling up to fill the void of artistic expression at a reasonable cost. Tools today have afforded the motivated artist to actually complete a film themselves or with a very small crew. This brings me to new completed and proposed feature films by Elliot Cowan, Jim Lujan, Michel Gagne, Nick Cross and veteran Ralph Bakshi. Most of these films are budgeted well under a million dollars and many have been helped by Kickstarter campaigns. Elliot Cowan recently released his film “The stressful Adventures of Boxhead and Roundhead” Jim Lujan just released his new 56 minute feature on YouTube called “KounterKlockwise in Foreverland” The talented Michel Gagne has just received and option from Belgian Grid Films for his Kickstarter project, “The Saga of Rex” Nick Cross has been working on his solo feature film called “Black Sunrise” And the legendary Ralph Bakshi returns to animated features with “The Last Days of Coney Island” Let’s hope these films do well and usher in a new era of 2d animation and more artist driven animated features. Oh yes, and I will be releasing a Kustomonsters 35 minute featurette called, "The Legend of Mummy Daddyo" later in 2014! Stay tooned!

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

New short Cacophony directed by Craig Clark for Spiritclips from Hallmark

A new animated short from director Craig Clark for Spiritclips from Hallmark is complete! The plot concerns A composer with writer's block receives an unexpected visit from his three squirrelly grandchildren. The Matt Cohenen script received an updated UPA style treatment from animators Mike Polvani, Kwesi Kennedy, Vanessa Maglio and designer director Craig Clark. Also dynamic background painting from Tim Szabo! Check out the film here and get a free Spritclips Streaming media trial. Spiritclips- Cacophony