Friday, July 09, 2010

Answers to Questions

Michael Polvani asks:

In your opinion and through your observations....why doesn't animation get the respect/recognition that live action gets across the board? ...

Because the vast majority of Academy voters are tied to the Live Action Village, and they tend to vote (as do many) in favor of fellow villagers.

It used to be worse, screenwriter/producer Niven Busch once told me in the heyday of the Studio System.

"Management expected you to vote for your studio's films. And if you didn't, you weren't a good studio employee ..."

There's probably less of that kind of bloc voting than there once was, but to the larger question of animation features getting "more respect?" don't hold your breath, Mike.

The only difference during my lifetime has been that animation now makes the conglomerates piles of money, to the point where some big live-action players (Spielberg, Jackson, Verbinkski) dabble in it.

This has meant that the genre formerly known as "cartoons" is now allowed to sit at the adults' table, but really. Animation getting more of those little gold men in the mainstream movie categories?

Won't be happening. Because 'toons are still, at the end of the awards' season, the bastard step-children of the movie industry.


Anonymous said...

I knew an animator that was a Disney strike-casualty. (He was one of those who went on the strike line in 1941, and in the aftermath, never worked at Disney again.) He worked on Pinochio through Fantasia and into Dumbo. He was an animator on many cartoon shorts from his start there in the mid-thirties.

He once said to me:

"Animation is considered the asshole of the film industry."

Anonymous said...

I think it's because animation and live action were (until recently) almost completely separate industries, operating in parallel but virtually independent spheres. Talent and crews and executives within live action crossed paths all the time, but between live action and animation, almost never. The live action world simply didn't know this world and its players.

That's starting to change, with more crossover of talent both directions in all realms, and more blurring of the animation/visfx/live action lines. And with that has come a gradual opening of the Academy doors -- witness the heightened interest in the Best Animated Feature Oscar and the inclusion of a few notable animated titles in the Best Film category. It's not complete parity and probably never will be; but it's a start.

stormko said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
stormko said...

I agree with the "village" comment.

I'd also add that animation, in America at least, still carries the reputation as being "for kids". Mature thought often has to be hidden amongst bright colors and comedic animal characters, if it is inserted at all.

Until animation stops being considered a genre—which it's not—and becomes a medium that is allowed to pursue any idea, live-action, which has those benefits, will always be more prestigious. If America would allow an animation like, I don't know, Tekkonkinkreet to be just as valid and accepted as The Outsiders, then we could get somewhere. People's associations are too strong to get past the connection of the medium to children. So adults, who give out things like Oscars, are never going to see animation as just a way to tell a story that is as valid as books or theatre or live-action film. The catch-22 is that the creators can't risk the resources to make anything other than G or PG animations because of this very association. So the cycle repeats.

I'm not saying that G or PG animations can't be respected as much as a live-action film. I'm just suggesting why people don't give the same level of respect to animation as they do live-action. The public (and, hence, the studios) won't accept an animated movie of The Godfather. Their associations won't allow them to take it seriously.

It's unfortunate.

stormko said...

Sorry for the double-post.

Ghost of Frank Tashlin said...

I know an animation director who has directed traditional hand-drawn television commercials , a television special, and three direct-to-video feature films . He is scrambling to get work as a director on a CG animated feature but is told he "needs experience" directing CG animation before he will be considered.

So why are live-action directors routinely given a free pass to direct CG animated features , but directors with experience directing traditional animation are considered a "risk" ?

Stephen Worth said...

I think the root of the perception of animation as a second class art form is it being seen as a genre, not a medium. Most people would never even think that animation could be used to make a horror movie, romance, or biting satire. Unfortunately, even among animators, there is a tendency to believe that there are certain types of stories that animation should do, and types it shouldn't do. The never ending cycle of talking dogs and princesses is the reason that animation is perceived as a "children's genre". We're all responsible for that, even our heroes from the past. It will take bravery and open experimentation to change.

Mike said...

Well said Steve!

Anonymous said...

It's not that animators, et al, don't want to make other types of movies toher than family fare (quite a few do). It's trying to find someone with enough vision to fund one.
I've been involved with a property for quite awhile that has most of the studios and indie financers excited, even though it would have to be at least PG. The big problem is none of them want to be the first. They'd rather let someone else prove that there's a market for more adult animation (though most of them feel there is one) and then come in after it's been poven.

Anonymous said...

I'd also add that animation, in America at least, still carries the reputation as being "for kids".

For what it's worth, Japan has the same problem. It's not "cool" to watch cartoons above age 14 in Japan, unless it's a Studio Ghibli feature. It's okay for adults to watch Studio Ghibli films in Japan.

The super-violent/adult cartoons in Japan target the few adult geeks who are not ashamed to watch cartoons.

stevenem said...

Maybe we are asking the wrong question. Maybe we should ask, why do we give a shit? Film making is a business like any other. When you make something entertaining and good that people want to see they will see it. It will make money, some company will make profits and want to make more. Lather, rinse, repeat. Same as a book or a record or a new bit of fun technology.

What you are calling "respect" is just a well established marketing device, nothing more; an huge, elaborate, institutionalized con.
Way back in the silent film era, film producers discovered they could sell tickets by promoting and creating celebrity cults around their actors. After that, it just kept growing and getting more sophisticated and pretentious.

It's time we stopped getting sucked in by all that bullshit. Just be proud of your work and move on.

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