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 Post subject: Real Don Bluth Interview
PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2009 1:45 pm 
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I just got a chance to interview Don Bluth!

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Hello Mr. Bluth, my name is John Cuellar and I am a big fan of your movies. I was wondering if you could please answer a few questions for me for an interview because I am not sure that you will get this!

1. What was it is like running your own production company?
Answer: Interesting question. Probably like directing traffic and being responsible for the welfare of the artists working with us. Luckily, Gary has always been a huge help, taking on most of the responsibilities of producing, co-directing and taking care of so many tasks. Allowing me to be as creative as possible, with storyboarding, directing animation, and art direction. Everyday brings new surprises.

2. Why did you not like the way Disney was being run? Why did you choose Gary Goldman and John Pomeroy?
Answer: We loved working at Disney. I met Gary when he started at Disney in February of 1972. We became instant friends. We were told that we needed to be ready to take on leadership roles within the next 6 years. We were learning to animate, not any of the other processes, like scripting, directing the voice talent storyboarding, layout, scene planning, camera, color model, Xerox processing, editing sound and picture, etc. So we felt a little panicked, and we actually didn’t even know what questions to ask our mentors – so, in the fall of 1972, Gary and I started a project in my garage to learn about other areas of the production process – to prepare for the future and being able to take on leadership roles. The project was called The Piper, based on a story my brother Toby wrote.We met John in February of 1973, when he started at Disney, almost a year to the day from when Gary started. He is a great draftsman and loved Disney animation as much as we did. We asked him if he wanted to see what we were doing in the garage and learn with us. We just felt he was going to be a leader in animation.

We worked at Disney during the day and in my garage nights and weekends for the next 6 years. We abandoned “The Piper” project in early 1975 and came up with a simple short story called Banjo the Woodpile Cat, and thought we could do it in a couple of years. It took 4 and a half years to finish. But, it was the one film that taught us the most, and prepare us for “The Secret of NIMH”.

It wasn’t until they promoted Gary and John to directing animators, and me to producer/director, that we started to feel that they (the administration) were not really interested in the art of animation and refused to allow us to re-institute special effects animation and artistic processes that they had abandoned in the late 1960s. Processes we felt were part of the magic in our favorite films, like Pinocchio, Bambi, Dumbo, Song of the South, Cinerella, Peter Pan and Lady & the Tramp – environmental minutia like believable dust, smoke, fire, rain, water reflections, etc. Which we actually tried to incorporate into Pete’s Dragon and The Small one, but were told that these production values were too expensive. It started to feel like, they wanted us to be leaders, but were not going to let us lead. The films we were working on didn’t hold a candle to the films they had made 30 years before. And the stories were not strong, like Snow White, Pinocchio, Bambi, Dumbo or Cinderella. We often talked about how it seemed that we were making films to baby-sit kids on Saturday afternoons at the mall. It just became uncomfortable in those last 18months and when we were offered financing to make a film as an independent company, we took it. As silly as that seems, to leave what was considered the best animation company in the world to go make a film with no guaranteed future. But, we felt that in order to cause change, we’d have to do something drastic and take the risk. Or mission was to wake up the animation community (as arrogant as that sounds) and show that you could do a film, with all the glory of those Disney films we loved, for a reasonable budget. And, we still believe we did that with “The Secret of NIMH”
(1982). Done for $6.83 million, 5 years after Disney spent $7.5 Million on The Rescuers (1977). Their next film,”The Fox and the Hound” (1981) cost them $12 Million. Since cost was such a big issue with them, we felt our efficiencies and passion helped us add the production values and not raise the costs, a point we kept trying to get make when we were at Disney - from 1977 to 1979.

It was during The Small One when I felt the most uncomfortable with the way we were being managed. By the time we completed that film, I actually suggested I step down from being the producer/director and just let me animate. Within the next three months, we were contacted by Aurora Productions, founded by three ex-Disney executives with an offer to finance us and whatever films we wanted to make. We suggested the book, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of N.I.M.H. and the rest is history.

3. Did you have any doubts about the success of your company after leaving Disney?

Answer: We accomplished a lot in a very short period of time. However, in the end, we failed, business-wise. While in Ireland our team did a deal with a Belgian company where we had to give up 95.5% of our equity in our company in exchange for a $60M, three-picture deal. In the end, the bank foreclosed on them and tried to take the films. We took the company into bankruptcy to protect the films. In the end the company was bought out of bankruptcy by a Chinese company which was owned by News Corp. Within the next year 1994, Gary and I were recruited by 20th Century Fox to help them set up an animation company which would be called, Fox Animation Studios. They moved us from Ireland to Phoenix, Arizona, along with 162 of our trained employees.

4. What exactly did you draw for Disney?

Answer: When I first started back in 1955, I was first an in-betweener, then promoted to assistant animator, working for animation legend John Lounsbery, one of the “Nine Old Men”. I worked on the two kings in Sleeping Beauty and on the rabbits and squirrels in the forest where Princess Aurora sings and dances with the animals dressed up like the prince. I only worked there for a year. Then went on to University – BYU. And continued to come back and worked summers until 1961.

When I returned to Disney in 1971, I worked on the film, Robin Hood. The characters I animated were scenes of Robin, Sir Hiss, Maid Marion and various others, on Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too (1974), I animated Rabbit when he was lost in the mist –the whole sequence. And, Christopher Robin near the end of the film. On The Rescuers I animated the Zoo Sequence with Bernard and Bianca, from the time they get off the bus until the leave the zoo. I also animated with Gary on the opening sequence in the United Nations building where all the International mice go down into the basement for their meeting of the Rescue Aid Society. I left the picture early to direct the animation on Pete’s Dragon, drawing animation poses for the animators to use in their scenes. I was promoted to producer/director on The Small One. On The Fox and the Hound, Gary and I worked together on the old woman and the little fox, Todd. On the sequence in the barn where the old lady is milking the cow.

5. Do you enjoy the admiration of fans who see you as a cartooning icon?

Answer: Not really, I’m not one who enjoys celebrity. I just want to create stories and draw. I love designing characters and storyboarding. I still animate from time to time.

6. Many of your films reach anniversaries soon, such as: The Secret of NIMH-25th anniversary, An American Tail-21 anniversary, The Land Before Time-20th anniversary(2008), All Dogs Go To Heaven-20th anniversary(2009), and Anastasia-10th anniversary.

Will we see anything special for these anniversaries?

I know that this is late, but you saw the 25th Anniversary for NIMH. It’s just that they didn’t sell it that way. Gary restored the film to a new digital HD Blu-ray master, and we did a fairly long interview for the bonus features. It was released in 2007 with the same cover art as the four previous releases. Very confusing to the fans, especially on amazon.com all of them looked the same, except for the “Fox Family Fun Edition” words across the top of the DVD. We were very disappointed. We are celebrating the 30th anniversary of Banjo the Woodpile Cat this year (2009) and are very proud of the restoration of that little featurette (27 minutes – plus 90 minutes bonus features) it is on amazon.com now. We have no control over the features. The distributors control when and what the packaging looks like, and how much of the interviews will be on the bonus features.

7. What inspired you to create An American Tail?
Answer: This was a concept brought to us by Steven Spielberg. After he saw The Secret of NIMH, he called us for a meeting. When we met (September of 1982) we told him our list of films we wanted to make. He wanted to find a concept and bring it to us. This did not happen until December of 1984. In the meantime we made three video games, Dragon’s Lair (1983), Space Ace (1983) and Dragon’s Lair II: Time Warp. At the next meeting in early December 1984, we were shown some storyboards and a script for a project, called An American Tail. We liked the title. But that was all. Steven agreed and we agreed to make the movie. We hired two writers, Tony Guiss and Judy Fruedberg who worked in our studio in Van Nuys, California. We started over, while at the same time we began storyboarding the film. Steven had the right to approve script and storyboards, and expected us to make him a beautiful film.

8. My favorite movie of yours has to be All Dogs Go To Heaven. What exactly inspired you to make a dog movie with Burt Reynolds? Why New Orleans?

Answer: I introduced the title to Gary and John back in 1987. I had remembered that when I was a kid, a teacher of mine showed us a book called, “All Dogs Go To Heaven” thought it was a great title, but didn’t remember the story. When I researched the title, it turned out to just be an anthology of dogs in general, and not a story. So, we constructed a story, several before we got it right. One of the writers had selected New Orleans as the location. We thought that that location sounded interesting. No one had done an animated film that took place in New Orleans.
Now, Burt Reynolds - back in 1983, when we were making the video games, Burt’s agent called us and wanted to meet. We went to Malibu where he was shooting “The Man Who Loved Women”. He explained that he love The Secret of NIMH and what we did with Dom DeLuise’s character Jeremy. And, that he wanted us to make a film with him, where he is a junkyard dog and is a jerk, and about halfway thru the film his “friends” would hold up a mirror to show him what a jerk he is and he would have to work thru the rest of the film to do things to redeem himself. We called the project Canine Mysteries. It didn’t go anywhere.
In 1987 when we all agreed on the idea of All Dogs Go to Heaven, we contacted Burt to see if he wanted to be the voice of the lead character, Charlie. He said yes.

Are you aware that Disney is making a traditional hand-drawn animated film called the Princess and the Frog, which will take place in New Orleans.

9. How do you feel about the emergence of CG animation and Japanese animation? Is it the end of traditional, hand-drawn animation or just a new tool for people to use and another different style?

Answer: we think that CG is great as a tool. But we’re both huge fans of traditional animation. CG just doesn’t capture the magic of hand-drawn, when hand-drawn is done right. Not big fans of anime style, but their stories are very strong.

Gary and I answered these together. Hope this works for you. So, sorry for the delays.

Don & Gary


Sorry, for all of the questions, but I had a lot I wanted to ask you and I am such a big fan. I would like to wish you a happy, belated 70th birthday. I wish you and Gary the best of luck in your next pursuits.

Please respond back to me as soon as possible via email. It was a pleasure meeting you and I wish you the best of luck with the rest of your career. Thank You So Much!

Sincerely,

John Cuellar


What do you all think?


Last edited by Nikkifan1 on Tue Feb 08, 2011 4:35 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Real Don Bluth Interview
PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 12:47 am 
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Wow, that's great! I have the utmost respect for Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, and I love to hear the "behind the scenes".

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10. How do you feel about the emergence of CG animation and Japanese animation? Is it the end of traditional, hand-drawn animation or just a new tool for people to use and another different style?

Answer: we think that CG is great as a tool. But we’re both huge fans of traditional animation. CG just doesn’t capture the magic of hand-drawn, when hand-drawn is done right. Not big fans of anime style, but their stories are very strong.


I'm very glad to hear that they have the exact same opinion as me, on this...

Quote:
6. Many of your films reach anniversaries soon, such as: The Secret of NIMH-25th anniversary, An American Tail-21 anniversary, The Land Before Time-20th anniversary(2008), All Dogs Go To Heaven-20th anniversary(2009), and Anastasia-10th anniversary.

Will we see anything special for these anniversaries?

I know that this is late, but you saw the 25th Anniversary for NIMH. It’s just that they didn’t sell it that way. Gary restored the film to a new digital HD Blu-ray master, and we did a fairly long interview for the bonus features. It was released in 2007 with the same cover art as the four previous releases. Very confusing to the fans, especially on amazon.com all of them looked the same, except for the “Fox Family Fun Edition” words across the top of the DVD. We were very disappointed. We are celebrating the 30th anniversary of Banjo the Woodpile Cat this year (2009) and are very proud of the restoration of that little featurette (27 minutes – plus 90 minutes bonus features) it is on amazon.com now. We have no control over the features. The distributors control when and what the packaging looks like, and how much of the interviews will be on the bonus features.


Well I was aware of this already, but still - it is outrageous that they would not give a new cover for NIMH...(I have the region 2 DVD, which fortunately has a better cover - the theatrical one, I believe - but no real bonuses)
I'm surprised about Banjo though - getting a DVD while it's not a full length film, a pretty much "unkown" one, and with a decent cover?
And what surprises me even more is that it's getting a real IPhone game - too bad I don't own one or I would have definitely tested it.

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Done for $6.83 million, 5 years after Disney spent $7.5 Million on The Rescuers (1977). Their next film,”The Fox and the Hound” (1981) cost them $12 Million. Since cost was such a big issue with them, we felt our efficiencies and passion helped us add the production values and not raise the costs, a point we kept trying to get make when we were at Disney - from 1977 to 1979.

It's just awesome to see that they could manage to make such great films with such "low" budgets (compared to nowadays standards...)
Especially when you see how much is wasted on CGI films!!! If traditional animation costs much less, why do they keep bringing on CGI? This is nonsense to me. Then again, most of the budget of the CGI ones must be spent on marketing and not on the films themselves...


I'm going to make a sticky.

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 Post subject: Re: Real Don Bluth Interview
PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 1:58 pm 
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If you take a look on Don Bluth's site, you will notice that he and Gary answer all of the questions from the fans (look at the guestbook)
So there's nothing real suprising in the fact that he answered.
I never tried to contact him though - I think there may be already too many people doing it.

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 Post subject: Re: Real Don Bluth Interview
PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 2:52 pm 
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I really liked a number of Don Bluth's movies, so this interview is quite something for me. Thanks for posting this!

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 Post subject: Re: Real Don Bluth Interview
PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2009 1:59 pm 
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I can see your points, Jersey Captain. It took me a year and a half to get that interview back, so it took a while.

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(Blank),
Attached are our answers to your interview questions. Apologies for the huge delay.


Don & Gary


Anybody else here like it?


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 Post subject: Re: Real Don Bluth Interview
PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2009 1:03 pm 
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Oh...My....Gosh!!!! DON BLUTH!!!!! *screams girlyishy* :D I love the secret of NIMH, All Dogs Go To Heaven and Land before Time (I have that anniversary edition!)


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 Post subject: Re: Real Don Bluth Interview
PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2009 12:04 am 
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Awesome! VERY Awesome, ^_^. I'm glad I got to read some recent stuff from Don Bluth now, <3.

However, he really never talks to much about All Dogs Go To Heaven it seems, =/. Maybe it's just me, but it seems like questions and answers always go toward his famous NIMH and Banjo the Woodpile Cat. I was really glad to here some info on question 8 though, so thanks a bunch for that, ^_^. I just hope that All Dogs gets a great anniversary DVD though. I've always been a great fan of the film, but there is hardly anything/anyone to really have other than the movie. Sure, some stuffed animals here and there, music, and artwork, but not much more than that.

Either way, not complaining, this was a very awesome surprise for today, so thank you very much, <3.

-Blur


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 Post subject: Re: Real Don Bluth Interview
PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2009 3:45 pm 
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Greykitty wrote:
If anyone is interested he has a forum. He's sometimes on to talk to people about his movies and animation in general. :) http://donbluthanimation.com/forum/


Cat verbally slapped me last time I linked to that site here. (Main BS, not forums)

GK, if the place gets full of the annoying breed of BSers and Bluth closes himself off to the world, it's on your conscience. xDD

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 Post subject: Re: Real Don Bluth Interview
PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2010 5:58 pm 
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i joined that forum a long time ago. i felt so out of place, lol, and for good reason. compared to the people on it, my art's about a million times far off than what they can produce. i shouldn't have joined at all.

good folks there, but you'd have to have a leg-up in animation to really enjoy and last long there. otherwise, coming off as 'just a fan' like i did, the place is forgettable.


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 Post subject: Re: Real Don Bluth Interview
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 3:59 am 
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itsjustaar wrote:
i joined that forum a long time ago. i felt so out of place, lol, and for good reason. compared to the people on it, my art's about a million times far off than what they can produce. i shouldn't have joined at all.

good folks there, but you'd have to have a leg-up in animation to really enjoy and last long there. otherwise, coming off as 'just a fan' like i did, the place is forgettable.


HI,

Thanks for posting. I want contribute some developing my project. I'll post when i finished it.

If you want to do more info, you also visit at: disney interview questions

Rgs.


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 Post subject: Re: Real Don Bluth Interview
PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2016 10:11 pm 
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He is a nice man and very talented. He did have right to get upset at Disney and they paid for it. He is a real hero of animation.


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