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Posts tagged ‘Disney’

DEAL WITH YOUR PROBLEMS LIKE A MOUSE

Betty Boop before and after the production code

Betty Boop before and after the production code

I was watching some early Betty Boop with my kids this week.  This was before 1934 when the production code made her cover up her cleavage, lower her hems and lose both her garter and her wiggle.  She’s saucy, sexy and awesome.

After the code went into effect, she lost more than the garter – she got watered down and became a little (I hate to say it) bland.

Betty was a product of the Fleischer Studios, but they weren’t the only animation studio to have problems with the production code.  Disney’s biggest star – Mickey Mouse – did not pass the code’s strict moral standards; he drank, smoked, abused other animals and forced kisses from a reluctant Minnie – WHAT A CAD.

Where the Fleischers grumbled and robbed Ms. Boop of her spark, Disney used the opportunity to reinvent Mickey.  He became the happy-go-silly, optimistic innocent we know and love today.  He also jumped from being a star to being an icon.

Life is going to throw you some problems – sorry, but it’s true – you can grumble about them and give up or you can muster all your creativity and do a Disney, use new limitations to create a work of genius.  Turn your star into a legend.

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IT AIN’T OVER ‘TIL YOU QUIT

One of Kimball's most loved characters

One of Kimball’s most loved characters

Ward Kimball's creation.

Ward Kimball’s creation.

Last July I was working at the opening ceremonies of TAAFI 2013 (Toronto Animation Arts Festival International).  David Silverman was the Keynote Speaker. Silverman, Director and principle creative genius behind The Simpsons, was everything you’d expect him to be: Creative, Funny, Knowledgeable, Personable and a little Irreverent; I loved it.

My favourite anecdote was hearing that as a student at UCLA Ward Kimball came to lecture.  Kimball was one of Disney’s original Nine Old Men, an Academy Award winning animator who Walt Disney himself referred to as a genius.

Kimball told them “Walt’s dead, and you missed him.” The message to these young, animation students was clear…’the Golden age is over’.

Kimball lived to see the later Disney masterpieces including, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Lion King, Toy Story and Monsters Inc., not to mention The Simpsons and the birth of DreamWorks.  I wonder if he changed his mind about it all being over.

EVEN A GENIUS CAN BE WRONG.

You’re going to run into a LOT of people trying to tell you it’s over, you missed it, you’re too late, the boat has sailed.

THEY’RE ALL WRONG.

If David Silverman had listened to Kimball, he wouldn’t have bothered creating anything new and wonderful.  Don’t EVER let someone tell you it’s too late.  It’s only too late when you believe it is and give up.

GO CREATE A NEW GOLDEN AGE for you, the people you love and the rest of us; we’re all richer when you do. 

 

Check out the TAAFI website here http://taafi.com

Dreaming big and getting clear

Holy Quarter Century Batman, I graduated college 25 years ago this week.  Funny, I don’t feel old enough to be able to say that, but it’s true.

The last week of class I had one of the most important life lessons I’ve ever had; here’s how it went:

BIG DREAMS Part 1

Final assignments, presentations and exams had all been done, attendance was low, one of my favourite teachers, came into class.

“The course is finished, but there’s one more thing I want to teach you before you head out.  Everyone take out a piece of paper.”

We did.

“Write down where you want to be in five years.” She paused “but don’t get stupid on me, be realistic with your dreams.”

We did.

She gathered up the various sheet of paper, ripped them into pieces and threw them in the garbage (she was even more dramatic than I am).  Then she looked at us like the great mother hen that she was and said:

“Realistic dreams aren’t dreams. Where do you really want to be?” Another dramatic pause “What’s the dream you don’t tell anyone because you know they’ll laugh?  Write that down.”

We did.

“Hold onto this dream.  Don’t let anyone ever take it from you.  NOW…what are you going to do to get there?”

I don’t remember what I wrote on the first sheet of paper, something very sensible I’m sure.  On the second piece of paper I wrote “Directing at the Stratford Shakespearian Festival”.

I have to admit, five years after I graduated, I was not directing at the Festival – it took six.  Six years after I graduated I was an apprentice director at the Stratford Shakespearian Festival.

BIG DREAMS Part 2

While I was at the festival, I realized I would be unemployed in 4 months and until then, I would only see my wife every other weekend – if I was lucky.  I decided I didn’t want to be a freelance director any more (looking back, I realize the decision was fear based, but this was how I justified it at the time).

What I didn’t do was get clear on what I did want.

Five years later I was answering phones at an insurance company…a great job for many, a VERY bad fit for me.

One day my supervisor told me I should choose my five year anniversary gift, it was coming up.  I was stunned; this job was only temporary until I figured out my next step.  Suddenly it was five years later – five MISERABLE years later.

BIG DREAMS Part 3

I excused myself, pulled out a sheet of paper and I was not leaving until I figured out where I wanted to be in five years.

Eventually I wrote down two things:

I want to be a produced playwright – preferably in NYC.

I want to be working in Animation (years ago I had run some acting classes at Walt Disney Animation and LOVED it).

I started writing a play that night and within a week had sent out resumes, cover letters and follow-up phone calls to every school and studio in the Toronto Area.

Within a year I was teaching Acting in the Animation departments of two of the best schools in the world (I still am) and recently one of my plays was presented in NYC (took a bit longer than I thought).  Last summer an animation festival billed me as Canada’s leading expert in the field of Acting for Animation.

BIG DREAMS Final thoughts:

I am still grateful to that teacher who inspired me over 25 years ago, I do have one BIG adjustment to her lesson, I believe small dreams are still dreams; they are valid and can be beautiful.  Don’t let anyone rip them up either.  She was pretty dramatic though and it made a statement I still remember.

Some people believe you get everything you’re clear about, EVERYTHING.  I’m not one of those people, which may explain why I didn’t win the lottery last night – AGAIN – but I do know getting clear gets you a LOT closer.  Our dreams can, will and should change, write yours down and dream big and then start moving toward it…effort counts.

Where do YOU want to be in 5 years?

WRITE IT DOWN – it makes it clear.

What are you going to do to get there?

Dumping Cinderella – or – Why I need a New Fairy Tale.

As a kid Cinderella was my favorite Fairy Tale – – – by a LONG shot (though I’ll admit I have not seen the Disney version).  I never thought about it too much – certainly not for years – until last week.

The metaphors in Cinderella are huge and diverse; it’s a story that permeates our culture.  We ALL KNOW IT!  For some it’s going to be about the overwhelming power of love, for others it’s about finding and acknowledging your true inner worth, for others it’s a story about finally getting a makeover.  Last week (it was a LONG HARD week) I realized why I love this story:

For me, Cinderella is about someone who’s living life at a 2 when they should be living at a 10…and (here’s the part I don’t want to admit) SOMEONE ELSE comes along and puts her where she should be.

I’ve realized My Fairy God Mother’s not coming.  I think she’s off in the Caribbean sipping rum with some hot guys.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some wonderful people in my life who have helped me in ways I can not begin to thank them for, but that all powerful woman with her magic wand who makes it all better has not arrived yet.  It’s time to start doing for myself – getting my own darn dress (Ok not a dress in my case) and if I don’t get invited to the ball, I’m going to throw my own and YES, you’re invited.

I think my new favorite Fairy Tale might just be Jack and the Beanstalk.  Here’s an active hero who grabs adventure by the beanstalk and gets what he wants.  Though I do feel a bit sorry for the Giant…maybe I need to keep looking – I’m open to suggestions, but for now, I’m looking for someone who wants to trade some magic beans.

It’s all the same ugly crap … isn’t it?

I heard it again this weekend “It all sounds the same”.  This time it was a symphony conductor regarding Turn of the Century (1900) ballads.

It’s one of those things that has ALWAYS driven me nuts.

I’ve heard it about Rap Music, Symphonies, Classical Music in general, Opera, Rock, Jazz, Anime, Disney, Rembrandt, Norman Rockwell, Jackson Pollock, Shakespeare, Reality TV and Orange Juice.

I’ve also heard it about Racial, Cultural, Gender and Age stereotypes…they all look/act/think/are the same.

When we consciously or unconsciously, choose to diminish a type of art or a group of people, we don’t diminish them as much as we diminish ourselves.  We lose the opportunity to enjoy the art or to be enriched by the people.

Some of the art styles I’ve listed above are NOT my personal favorites (don’t try to guess, you’ll probably be wrong) but they all have value, they all seek to express the human condition and connect to an audience in a way that is authentic and real.

When we make blanket statements about art styles, we show our own ignorance and stubborn unwillingness to look (or feel) outside our comfort zones.

Take another look at the art you don’t like…it’s trying to teach you something too.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is ugly.

Aside

Accepting My Inner Ogre – ridding the world of Ographobia

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE Shrek?  Why yes, yes I did. – Check out my other posts on Shrek.

Making it Real with Shrek

Breakin’ Out With My Favourite Ogre

This morning I was talking to a student about Fiona and how she changes…her arc.

Here’s a princess with a VERY dark secret…SPOILER ALERT…SPOILER ALERT She’s an ogre by night – only true love’s first kiss can break the spell.  Her’s a princess with some serious shame – she hates something she is – something she has no control over.  She’s got some serious Ographobia going on…that’s a nasty thing when you are an Ogre.

Her arc – from shame to acceptance and on to celebration.  Go Fiona!  Pretty awesome stuff here – how does it happen?  I’m sooo glad you asked.  I’m going to tell you how she starts…

She MEETS AN OGRE.  She comes face to face with her biggest fear and she finds out – – – wait for it – – – he’s not the baby eating, virgin violating monster she’s been led to believe.  He’s a grumpy, curmudgeon, but he’s not a monster.  It takes a while, (about half the movie) to fully accept it, but being an Ogre just isn’t so bad…it can be kind of fun actually.

One of the best way to combat prejudice is to actually meet the people we judge – the people we make assumptions about.  When we do, we’re going to find out that some of them will TOTALLY confirm our preconceived ideas, but most of them will not.  Any group regardless of how we try to pigeon hole them – race, sex, sexuality, language, culture, hair colour, financial status, clothing, ogreness – will have its share of good and evil, caring and selfish, givers and takers.  It is always the same.  Fiona learns to accept herself by meeting an Ogre – the very thing she hates and fears the most – when she does, she finds that he’s not that horrible – – – and neither is she.

Something else occurred to me this morning.  Fiona’s arc isn’t just about shame, it’s also about arrogance and pretention.  She thinks (and acts) like she’s just a wee bit better than the rest of us…OK maybe a LOT better than the rest of us.  Over the course of the film she realizes that those two extremes are both false, she is neither more monstrous, nor superior to anyone else.  She’s just a woman/ogre…when she discovers and accepts this she is finally happy, loved and content.

The times in my life when I was most pretentious and most arrogant (I know, I know you can’t imagine me being arrogant of pretentious, but yes my friends, I’ve been there, done that and picked up a T-Shirt that was WAY better than yours) have all coinsided with my most insecure, and shameful times, times when I struggled the most with self esteem and self acceptance.  What do you say we all just accept ourselves – warts, green skin and all – and at the same time accept that our strengths and our weaknesses don’t make us better or worse than anyone around us – they make us human – or Ogre as the case may be.

Adventures with The Goonies

Sooooooo if you’ve been paying attention, you know my theory:      
          The art we love is trying to teach us something.  
It’s been working for me, but I had a chance to test it a few days ago.
My cousin Bonnie is one of my favourite people in the world; she’s having a rough time.  Life is throwing her some nasty curve balls these days.
We talked for hours while our kids played wii in the basement.  We chatted a little about Animating Your Life and suddenly I thought I’d see if it would actually work for someone who wasn’t me.
The conversation went like this:
Me:   What’s your favourite movie?
Bonnie:  The Goonies.
          I haven’t see The Goonies yet.  
Me:  Tell me about The Goonies.
          She did – took about four minutes. 
Me:    Sooo, in a word or two, what’s it about?
Bonnie:   Adventure.
          She didn’t even hesitate.  
Me:   Do yah think maybe you love The Goonies because you need some adventure?
Her face lit up, she started to laugh and now she’s getting her kid’s passports – they’re going to Disney World.
A trip to Disney World isn’t going to fix her problems, but Bonnie’s been feeling trapped in the “good sensible” decisions she’s been making for years.  They’ve served her well, but as soon as she said “Adventure” we both knew she needed one.
I think The Goonies are leading her well…and Bonnie is now convinced I’m a smarty pants…I’ve always know she was a smarty pants.

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