Anyone who has seen any of the blockbuster animation features of recent years, and has interest, patience and/or stamina to sit through the seemingly endless credit titles, knows that no single person can make such movies.
Though it is possible, with today’s technology, to do it, it could be an undertaking of years to make anything worth watching even by your own kids, who would be grown up and bored by the time you finished it. A professional animated film is not a one-man show.
I have won prizes and gotten credit for many films that were enriched by the work of others. But this book is not to list everyone who helped me make the thousand-plus-plus short films that carry my director’s credit. As director, I must conceive, write, guide and control my films, often draw staging layouts and key animation poses. If that sounds like “everything,” it isn’t. The meat on the bones, the design, animation, voice acting, music, the sound mixing, compositing… etc. etc. are the contributions of a studio full of talented and dedicated professionals. I cannot credit them all here. This book is attempting something broader; to give credit to the people who at each stage of my life and animation career inspired and guided me.
Here are some short and long stories about 65 amazing people I can blame or credit for whatever has become of me, plus ramblings I squeezed in, trying to get a handle on how
I managed to achieve a positive reputation in my profession in spite of the fact that nearly all of my large projects were failures! Failures made me what I am today, a success!
Many people had a role in that, and I am taking this opportunity to give 65 of them the credit/blame for how I turned out. In spite of the fact that so many of my projects didn’t pan out, (that expression dates me!) I was helped, inspired, urged on, and provided with uninterrupted work for 65 years. After the first post-WW2 year, 1945, I’ve never been out of work! Knowing how inexplicable that is, I feel I must write about it and give credit to those whose faith in me made my long career possible.
Many of the people named herein never made it to Google or the Wikipedia, but they are high on my list of “inspirators,”’ who influenced me, boosted me in my life, craft and art, worked with me, and contributed their talents to my projects. Many became my long time friends. To me they were all creative giants who deserve to be remembered, and I wish to remember them. They’re listed here more or less chronologically as they appeared in my life. The tragic part is that of the 65 great people I’m writing about, 55 of them are no longer living. As an old Czech colleague once put it, “The chopping in the woods is getting closer!” With that heavy thought in mind, I figured that I’d better get on with the job of rolling the credits!
My hope and point here is that these people and events will remind you of parallels in your own careers, and will inspire creative thoughts. As most of the people remembered here are gone, I am relying my own memory as well as preserved documents. This is intended as an “open” book, and I welcome any additional material and thoughts, even negating, from any of you, which I can include to fill out the history.
– Gene Deitch, 2011