Lenora Hume: There's quite a few animators at Disney Features that worked on the project. Our studio that we've opened in Vancouver is led by the lead special effects animator from Rock & Rule [Keith Ingham].
It's an incredible film. If you set aside its faults, I think that there is amazing animation in it, and most of the talent on that picture has gone on to great careers in the animation industry. It was an opportunity for a lot of talent to develop, because everyone was pushed to their limits.
Emru Townsend: "Its faults"--are you referring to the production process, or with the film itself?
Well, I think that in retrospect, you go back and look at it, the sum of the parts are probably better than the whole itself. There is fabulous animation in it, there's great visual effects, art direction is wonderful, music as well. It's really when you take all of the parts and talk about each of them individually, one would be describing a blockbuster hit. But for various reasons, and I think not all to do with distribution, it was not successful. It was a film that, content-wise, was not aimed at a young audience, which I think is really an area that has never been successful in North America [especially] when you compare it to the Japanese animation industry, where the largest audiences are the late teens and young twenties. But in North America, it's not cool, or it wasn't at that time, to go to a cartoon. And I think the film suffered terribly from that. As well, [there was] no real big machine behind it marketing it. I don't think it is a fabulous story, either. I think it's an interesting story, but I think there's still problems within it.
So when you add it all together, it was not successful. And it certainly wasn't for a lack of talent or a lack of trying. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that it's very difficult as an independent film producer as well, because you don't have that marketing behind it, you don't have a guaranteed distribution route. You're out there on your own, trying to do it. And I think, looking back, that Nelvana did an amazing job funding it, producing it.
Was Rock & Rule the last thing you worked on, production-wise? Because now you're working more organizationally, no?
Well... one of the things I think that anyone who has worked in camera [knows is that] all of the production problems end up in the camera room. So you certainly do learn a lot about production and how to solve production problems, because you don't want to, after having spent eighteen hours working on a shoot, not be able to solve a problem and have to throw away that amount of work. So I think a lot of good production people have come out of animation camera, I think in various studios.
But at the end of Rock & Rule I changed over to a management type of position, worked initially as an assistant to the producer on a couple of pictures, and then started producing animation for Nelvana. I did that for about seven years before coming down to the States to work with Disney.
Well, thanks a lot. This has been quite informative.
It was a great experience, and the Canadian team that was on that are spread worldwide now. It's amazing. It was a good project, and a great company to work for.
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Originally printed in fps
#12 (Autumn 1997)