Friday, April 11, 2014

Nik Ranieri

A week and a half from now, we'll be running an expansive interview with veteran Disney animator Nick Ranieri. Nik talks in detail about his long career, from Roger Rabbit to Wreck-It Ralph, but I wish I had asked him about this:

On Working With Chuck Jones

I didn't like to do freelance but I couldn't pass up the chance to work with Chuck Jones [on a a Roadrunner short called "Chariots of Fur".] I remember as he was going through the scene with me in his office, I was geeking out in my mind about how amazing the experience was. "I'm getting pitched a scene by Chuck Jones, this is awesome", I thought as I nodded with professional restraint.

A bunch of us from Disney worked on the short and used aliases so as to avoid any conflicts. Eric Goldberg, Will Finn, Joe Haidar, Raul Garcia were some who freelanced. All used aliases.

I thought I'd be clever and spell my name backwards. So I submitted my credit as " Irein Arkin". Unfortunately, Chuck didn't like the spelling and changed it to Irene...the big dope! Oh well, still a great experience....

Interesting side note to the above: In the mid-nineties, Disney Feature had personal service contracts with the studio which tied them exclusively to Diz Co.

But funny thing: Chuck Jones was doing one of his last shorts, and lots of Disney animators wanted to work with him. And one day I got a phone call from Chuck Jones Producctions:

CJP: Hello, is this the union?

Hulett: It is.

CJP: Well, we have a problem over here. We've got a bunch of animators from another studio free-lancing on a short, and they have contracts that say they can't work for other companies.

Hulett: These are Disney animators, right?

CJP: Yeah. How did you know?

Hulett: Because they're the only group in town with exclusive contracts.

CJP: Yeah. So they're ... a little nervous. We want to give them screen credit, but they want to know if they can use fake names in the credits.

Hulett: If it's fine with them, it's fine with the union. Just be sure you have letters from each of them saying they want to use fake names. It wouldn't be good if they change their minds later and file grievances. ...

I was never clear on the title of the short where animators used phoney names. But I guess Chariots of Fur would be it. (Happily, the statue of limitations has long-since run out.)

Nik did an interview with Animation Podcast back in 2005. You can listen to it here.


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