Production Update December 2016

December 18, 2016 More


Happy Holidays everyone.  We’re happy here too.  December has moved our primary focus back to production again.  We’re still going to be marketing and fund raising, but center screen is back to production with two major decisions; organizing our crew pool of over 300 now into Talent Teams, and moving the all-important Prologue sequence up to “In Production”.  Why an image of Gene Deitch here, because he’s the first interview clip in the Prologue talking about UPA having many styles.  John Culhane, below, is the final interview in the Prologue, recalling how Gerald McBoing Boing became his greatest movie-going experience.

So, first of all, the Talent Teams.  Our booth at CTNx this year was the most successful yet, getting over a hundred new people signing up for our crew.  This is great, right?  Yes, however, we needed to get more organized to handle the larger talent pool of artists who’ve shown interest in coming aboard over these last few years.  So, we decided it would be a much more sensible creative environment if we had special talent teams to draw from, as we move into the final lap of the documentary, teams such as; Story Board Artists, Character Designers, Background Artists, Layout Artists, Animators, Transcribers, Production Assistants, etc.  Need to board a new scene going into production?  Go to our Story Board team. Ready to do final animation on a scene?  Voila! the Animators team.

                              Initial Goal: Finish the Prologue before next year’s CTNx

Why the Prologue?  We have several scenes in the works, Gerald Hop, Cartoonz is Cartoonz, and Kurtz on the Phone, which we don’t intend to stop, but we’re adding the Prologue because it’s the first scene in The Boing Heard Round the World, and the most important, as it provides a dazzling fast paced intro to UPA, its artists, its shorts, its history, and also gives the viewer an initial taste of the exciting documentary that lies ahead.  It’s structured around 22 short scenes that illustrate the points we want to make during the 90 minute feature … insightful, inspiring, funny, serious, and personal, all told by UPA artists and international animation experts.  Many stories will have never been heard until now.  The thumbnail overview below doesn’t describe everything that will be in the Prologue, of course, but you’ll get a good sampling of some of our interviews, many of our own characters of UPA artists and animation experts, some of the vital points we want to illustrate, as well as exploring some of the creative choices were making for this important documentary feature.  Hope you can join our crew or become a backer.  Now here’s the Prologue overview:


Thumbnail of the 22 scenes of the Prologue

               Open Title Page: (fits between end of distributors logos and

before the UPA Wake Up scene, which begins the 22 scene Prologue)

The sound of a single saxophone, and a line made up of the three UPA

colors, blue, yellow, and red, create the title page, the title of the documentary

in the center, the distributor’s above, and the sub-title, “a documentary

feature on UPA, the little studio that changed the face of modern animation”,

in the lower third.

               UPA Wake Up: a fireworks display to introduce viewers to UPA

artists, shorts, and history in a colorful and exciting spectacle of UPA style

pyrotechnics. The three color line continues its path across the screen, 2/3rds

of the way down, a grassy mound is below, where some UPA artist characters

sit, and the beginning of the fireworks emanate from the line.  The sax picks

up the pace accordingly.

               Style Commentators: six line-only profile of faces, reminiscent

of Budget’s Budget give their opinions of what the style of UPA is, all six are

different. The profiles are each a single color, peeled off from the three color line.

Other single instruments back each commentator.

               Unlimited Animation: Gene Deitch counters the UPA style

squabble, saying that UPA choses a style to fit each short being made.

Animation illustrates his comments with our characters of UPA artists busy

doing their various style films, and the instruments joining together for the

upbeat scene.

               Big Picture Commentator: A seventh profile commentator stops

the action of the artists creating their different styles, saying the big picture

was that UPA began a new way of looking at animation, and it all began on

the animation picket line in 1941.

               Met on Picket Line: Steve Bosustow expands on that idea.

Animation begins a three part picket line sequence beginning with a group

of picketers marching arm in arm, reminqicend of the final scene in UPA’s early

“Brotherhood of Man”

               Babbitt & Hurtz: Giannalberto Bendazzi then adds a light hearted

touch with a story about Art Babbitt running back into the studio to get his

assistant, Bill Hurtz, out to join the picket line. The story is illustrated with

our new animation.

               Brotherhood Bond: The final section of the picket line sequence is

told by Tom Sito, elaborating on how they all bonded there, illustrated with more

artists joining in.

               UPA is Geniuses: Now a two scene sequence begins with Tisha David,

who believes those artists were all geniuses.  Animation transitions us from the

picketers in front of a large animation studio, morphing to the small UPA studio,

picketers become artists flying down through the roof to a story conference

lead by Bobe Cannon.

               Artists First: Tom Sito picks up with the idea that UPA artists were

artists first, then animators.  The background revolves around to another story

conference with another group of UPA artists going over another storyboard

lead by John Hubley.

               UPA is Paradise: Another two scene sequence is begun by J.C Dessaint,

who muses that working at UPA must have been like paradise.  The animation

whisks us outside where several groups of artists are enjoying a break on

the back lawn.

               Not One Stamp: Geefwee Boedoe continues the back lawn motif

when he pounds his fist saying “This is UPA, we do Mr. Magoo, but NO it’s all

different artists doing different films”.  At this the umbrella on the lawn begins

to spouting many UPA characters.

               Press Forward: The characters and umbrella twirl around to form

the UPA logo, which zooms toward the camera, and past, to reveal Leonard

Maltintalking about UPA being the first animation studio to get the attention

of the press.  The second half of his comments are covered by a veritable

galaxy of articles on UPA.

               We Had Fans: The last article is in a magazine cover which opens up

to Bill Melendez gleefully reminiscing, “Can you imagine, we at UPA actually

had fans”. Half way through we cut to animation of Bill and other key artists

exiting the UPA studio and being inundated by a gaggle of fans wanting


               UPA is Epicenter: As Bill finishes his thoughts, under animation,

our character of Serge Bromberg bursts up through a pile of old films, and

morphs into him as we interviewed him, saying that UPA was the epicenter

of new animation.  On the word “epicenter’ we cut suddenly to the vase breaking

in Tell Tale Heart, and the rest of Bromberg’s comments are under more of

Tell Tale Heart.

               Dark HUAC Days: Gene Deitch explains how the Black List hit UPA.

It’s illustrated by a somber version of the back lawn, then a glass door wheels

open t0 reveal another story conference, this one more gloomy as Ted Parmelee

describes theboard for Tell Tale Heart.  It ends with some of the artists “named”

by HUAC leaving UPA, a heartbreaking version of the earlier upbeat autograph

hounds.  During all this historical photos of Joe McCarthy and his HUAC

hearings float by.

               Urban Settings: Well, the whole scene comes crumbling down on these

unfortunate UPA artists, and the only person remaining is a bystander, who is

“attacked” by another falling rock.  The bystander manages to dodge the

grasping rock, twice,but is finally lifted up into the air, and as he drops, he

morphs into our interview with Oscar Grillo.  Grillo talks about the radical views

of UPA at the time, and that they had no interest in doing furry animals, because

UPA was not only an artistic phenomenon, but a social phenomenon. The

animation describing this is to first have traditionally designed furry animals

pass him by in a woodsy setting,  then, everything changes but Grillo, the

woodsy background becomes Hollywood Boulevard, the furry animals become

UPA artists, and even the music changes from old cartoon music to jazz.

               Sausage Factories: As Grillo reached the end of his comments, he

passes a sausage factory, where we see a big foot kick our character of Jerry

Beck out the front door and up into the air.  As he comes down he morphs into

our interview with Beck.  He compares big studios at the time with UPA, as

we show the big studio’s assembly line creating a single character, one after

the other, but each UPA sausage is a different character.

               Knocked on Rear: We stay in the sausage factory for a comment by

Jules Engel, who says that UPA changed every aspect of animation, with stories,

and color, and such, illustrating each with appropriate examples, adapting scenes

from various UPA films with our characters, and ending with a great news article

about UPA over “we really knocked everybody on their rear”, it fills the screen.

               UPA Voice Talent: The article flips over to a Magoo script, as June Foray

talks about the importance of the script, as well as the acting, at which time the

script sails over to a recording stand of our Jim Backus character in a recording

studio. Foray and Jerry Hausner are also there, directed by Pete Burness.

               On the Phone: As Foray ends her comments we zoom in to a silhouette

of our Bob Kurtz figure in the shadows of the control booth, Kurtz escapes through

a back door, and when the camera goes through it too, we see the real Bob Kurtz

talking about how he used to call theaters to see which one was playing the latest

UPA film, not really caring what feature was playing.  We adapt the Doctor Malone

scene from Gerald McBoing Boing to illustrate the beginning of his story, then end

with Kurtz pulling up to a theater in the big Boing limo.

               The Tao of Boing: The usher who opens the limo door for Kurtz is none

other than John Culhane all dressed up in a fancy valet outfit.  Kurtz exits, Culhane

closes the door, and the limo takes off, flipping Culhane into the air.  As he comes

down his valet character morphs into his interview attire, and that character morphs

into the real Culhane talking about his first viewing of Gerald McBoing Boing.  His

comments are illustrated by an actual scene from the film.  At the culmination of his

line “this is one of the greatest film experiences I’ve had in my life. I don’t just mean

animation; I mean film,”  Gerald lets out a magnificent big Boing sound.

               Main Title: That boing sound motivates the title of the film, The Boing Heard

Round  the World, with distributors above the title and some of the key filmmakers

below. The music has built to a crescendo, with our UPA artist characters dancing

round the title, and if all goes well, original UPA characters will join in the festivities.

Of course, the title has already been seen before the UPA Wake Up scene, but this is

a much more all-encompassing statement, that as much says …

                                                                         … let the documentary begin!

Category: Back Issues, Production