“Don’t Let A Little Thing Like Failure Stop You!”
That’s the sub-title of my other online book, “HOW TO SUCCEED IN ANIMATION”. In it and in this book, a careful reader can deduce that in spite of my many efforts and hard work, most of my major projects and attempts were failures. It does amaze me that in spite of this, I seem to have a great reputation. I like to think it’s because I’ve worked very hard over 65 years, to succeed, and that I put my all into whatever I undertook, or was assigned to. I was constantly trying, as is said, to “push the envelope.” Many times I pushed it until it split and all the contents fell out.
Life is all about people. All of us who aspired to a career in the arts can look back to whom was our inspiration; whom did we model ourselves after? How did we get where we are? In my case it was with a long chain of helping hands. What young people today want to know is who is going to give them a chance? Where is the first break going to come from? Who will boost them in their hoped for career? When I stopped and looked back, I was able to quickly jot down a list of 65 names of people who were vital to my advancement and my growth, and those were only a few! I realized that all the study and work I might do would get me nowhere if I hadn’t reached people who could help me.
For anyone still interested in me; where I came from, what I believe in, what I tried to do; here is my story as revealed in the list of people, well-known and little-known, who influenced me, boosted me, contributed their genius to my projects.
Many of these people are well known figures in animation history, but most may be unknown or only vaguely known to you. My purpose here is to gratefully record their importance to me.
OK, I am publicized as, “Oscar winner Gene Deitch.” Sure, and I got five nominations. I became a member of the Motion Picture Academy of Arts & Sciences, and I vote for the Oscars. But sadly, in some ways it’s a sham. When I was making theatrical shorts in the early and mid-60s, all of my now-deceased Hollywood buddies, were alive. They voted for me as their old buddy in the closed screenings of cartoon shorts. My films were okay, so in those days I could hardly lose.
As any overseas resident Academy member will affirm, the very best thing about Academy membership is that I get 60 or more DVDs and Blu-Rays of the best new movies every year Fed-Exed to me, which I can privately view in the glow of my giant HiDef screen, and vote. Also, my Academy card gets me in free to the movies. All this has been my privilege for nearly 50 years, which makes me, at this writing 87 years old, very likely just about the oldest working member of the Academy!
Whatever the vision is of winning an Oscar, the reality is that the hype around it makes winning one a powerful career booster! So getting five nominations and one Oscar for my old films is something I’ve been able to make full use of… and yes, the fact of winning over a hundred other items of gold, silver, and bronze from many festivals is a real confidence builder. Most of them were for my slight little kiddie films. All my chances to do a real feature-length movie got blown away.
What is also amazing is how happy I am. After all the grand missed opportunities and blown chances, I ended up in a great place with a great wife, respect from the animation community, and enough money and property, without debt, and able to enjoy a long and healthy life. What more do I want?
So what is the definition of success? Going up like a rocket to the heights of fame, only to soon burn out? I feel that my happiness is the knowledge that much of what I did had a confidence-boosting effect on those who somehow became my fans. I’ve had enough of praise from others to make me feel some satisfaction with what ever it was that I accomplished, and to let the failures lie in peace.
SO NOW, BEGINNING ON MY 87TH BIRTHDAY, 8.8.2011, I’LL BEGIN POSTING THE CHAPTERS ONCE A WEEK, UNTIL YOU’LL HAVE ONE HELLOVA SCROLL DOWN THE SPROCKET-HOLED HIGHWAY OF MY LIFE!
I HOPE YOULL GET SOMETHING OUT OF IT. I HAD A GREAT TIME WRITING IT, AND I’LL WELCOME WHATEVER YOU HAVE SAY ABOUT IT OR ABOUT YOUR OWN ATTEMPTS TO CREATE THE “ILLUSION OF LIFE,” AS THE TRULY GREAT FRANK & OLLIE PUT IT!
“Roll The Credits!” title, file of my 60 chapters, essays, original photos, and drawings copyright © 2011 by Gene Deitch, All Rights Reserved, but may be reprinted with written permission if duly credited. All names, places, and events in this history are claimed to be true, according to my personal memory. This is not a work of fiction. Corrections will be made upon receipt of believable alternative information. It is not my intention to slander anyone, but to set down the truth as I lived it, remember it, and believe it. This internet presentation is devised and maintained by Zachary ‘Hary’ Jordanov. All content is my personal creation. – Gene Deitch, July 2011