Monday, August 27, 2007

Low Overhead

Nick Park of Aardman...

Out to the studios all day (about which more later), but this piece on the straight-ahead, day-to-day simplicity of Aardman Animations is worth perusing:

Aardman Animations holds meetings in parking-lot trailers while wailing seagulls circle overhead. A picture in its boardroom proudly commemorates a visit from the queen, as if that quaint ceremony were the highlight of the company's 30 years in business. And the founders still do their own ironing.

...Even the company's reasoning for creating commercials for the likes of Coca-Cola Co., Pepperidge Farm and Skittles, smacks of humility. "We thought we'd be in and out of fashion, so we took as many advertising opportunities as we could," said co-founder David Sproxton. "To our surprise and delight, that market continues to call us. It was lucrative, and we learned a huge amount because we were being challenged all the time."

What charms me is the low-rent mind-set and the basic simplicity of AA. Because it's such a contrast to the usual grandiosity of Hollywood Studios.

When I was at Disney early in the Mike Eisner era, I walked by a couple of large dumpsters overflowing with sheets of black marble. I mean like layers of the stuff. I asked a couple of different people what was with all the marble in the dumpster. The answer:

"Oh. Mr. Eisner's wife was redecorating the executive offices up on the third floor. After they installed all the new marble floors, she decided it should be shiny marble and not dull marble. So she had them tear all the non-shiny marble out."

Which, I think, encapsulates perfectly the Hollywood ethos. And has for seventy or eighty years.


Anonymous said...

I'm not rich, and don't expect to be. Yet, I perfectly understand the whims of the wealthy after living much of my life in Santa Barbara, and Montecito.

Eisner's executive offices had to have the correct marble, yet "big Mike" thought nothing of sending hundreds of animators packing.

Don't you just love Hollywood?

Anonymous said...

Sproxton's comments remind me of when Pixar stopped doing commercials in favor of all-feature production. At the time I thought it was a risky move, for the reasons Sproxton cites. Clearly, it's worked out for Pixar, but I'm glad to see I'm not the only paranoid in animation :0)

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