Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The David Block Interview -- Part II

TAG Interview with David Block

Find all TAG Interviews on the TAG website at this link

David Block was among the earlier applicants to Walt Disney productions feature animation training program, but he was far from a beginner. He had already broken in with Chuck Jones and Abe Lebitow, had already assisted Art Babbit on the Richard Williams feature Ragged Ann and Andy.

Disney, however, turned out to be a career track that lasted decades ...

Dave worked on Frank Thomas's and Ollie Johnston's last feature The Fox and the Hound, then went on to the featurette Mickey's Christmas Carol followed by The Black Cauldron and The Great Mouse Detective. He was set to start on the next feature when a chance meeting with Disney Television Animation's Michael Webster sent him on a new career trajectory: supervising the production of television cartoons.

Mr. Block spent over a decade producing, directing and otherwise superintending product inside Disney's newer animation division. He then returned to feature work in the 1990s, working on Tarzan, Emperor's New Groove, and Treasure Planet among others.

Today, after directing and animation assignments at Nickelodeon and Warner Bros, Dave is again animating at Walt Disney Animation Studios.


Dan Siciliano said...

An interview from an artist who was inspired by Fantasia, like me, and premiered on my birthday. Yeah! Great interview, Steve.

Steve Hulett said...

Yup, David is articulate.

Unknown said...

That's quite a tale! The early part of breaking in was fascinating! The Chuck Jones, Art Babbitt insights were really interesting. I never knew that he was a downer or that Corny was frustrated on that picture. Corny showed us the book that Canemaker wrote and didn't have anything negative to say about the picture...Thanks for the interesting interview!

Steve Hulett said...

You're very welcome.

Chris Sobieniak said...

It's nice to see Fantasia did it for him (or else he would've been stuck in another line of work). Hearing his stories of the problems he had in Chicago and at Art Center reminded me of the college I went to that didn't take animation too seriously themselves, they had the equipment (at the time an Oxberry stand with a separate aluminum animation disk and a few other nice analog relics), but just didn't have the right teachers or interest to offer the program more than a semester every two years (wasted opportunities I saw). I know if I had enrolled in such a course expecting to really learn all the ropes, I would feel left out if I surpassed all that was offered to me and wanted to go elsewhere in a hurry (my folks wouldn't have been that lenient with me).

I do wonder what Levitow/Hanson Sesame Street segment he worked on he said he found on YouTube? This page features a couple of them such as a series of ones involving different people polluting. I remember these ones well.

Incidentally, Abe's partner in the business was David E. Hanson. After Levitow's death, the studio either closed or was renamed "Gallerie International Films" and continued to do commercials as well as adapt several Japanese cartoons for the western market.

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