Friday, 1 April 2011

New Milt Kahl Interview

Two days ago, animation historian Michael Barrier has posted a rather interesting interview that occured in the past in 1976 - when he and Milt Gray interviewed the legendary animator Milt Kahl. The link for the interview is right here.

The Michaelangelo of Animation: Milt Kahl. 

What makes the article very interesting is the fact that not only what Milt Kahl is saying but the fact that how he is feeling in the interview. He seems to have strong emotions over stuff and his hatred towards some animation he doesn't like. He explains about how he animated the scene in Sleeping Beauty where Prince Philip holds Prince Hubert who is whirling in the air struggling to let go, while Philip sings Once Upon a Dream. It is sort of an entertaining scene - and it was done by rotoscoping, of course. He mentions how that while it was shot in live action, the actor playing the prince couldn't actually carry King Hubert (played by Don Barclay). While animating it, Prince Philip is strong and bold enough to carry King Hubert which makes him weightless. Yet again, it's believable.

He mentions that when he came to work for Disney, his original assistant animator was Bill Roberts, an old animator good at fast-action scenes. Although I thought that Milt Kahl was originally assisting Ham Luske when Ham was animating at the time before doing the pencil test on Mickey's Circus.

What I find the most interesting is the fact about how Milt Kahl seemed to have had hatred towards people, like Woolie Reitherman, Ben Sharpsteen, Clyde Geronomi and Marvin Woodward. He really "couldn't cope with this man". He was deeply embarrassed by the fact that he was working for a man who was strongly doing reuses and even the Maid Marian dance from Robin Hood and it seems to "embarrass him to tears". Even with animation anoraks coming up to him questioning him that the Maid Marian dance has the exact same movements that Snow White has. I don't know who animated the reuses, would Milt have done that - since he said he was embarassed - or another animator filling in?

He seemed to have described Ben Sharpsteen as a guy with no talent, and Clyde Geronomi as a "drone" and also untalented. He seemed to also describe Marvin Woodward (who is an unsung animator) as "some poor bastard". I wonder if Milt Kahl was describing him as a bad animator or a tough act. When I see Marvin's work - he seems to be a decent animator. Even Milt admits that it was heartless.

Milt says some nice stuff about his relationships with Wilfred Jackson and that he was very easy to follow, and also saying that Ham Luske was a very nice person to follow and also describing about the talented Norm Ferguson early on. What was interesting was the fact that Milt Kahl had to research if fountain pens existed back in 1910 as part of production for The Aristocats.

Anyways, it's all there and if you want to take a look at the interview - go right ahead. It's all interesting in what he has to say. Even though at some points it may be unpleasant. However, Michael seems to be posting interviews on more famous animation artists recently like Bob Clampett, John Hubley and Milt of course. I hope that Michael will post some interviews of lesser known people from that period like Gerry Geronomi, Campbell Grant, Cliff Nordberg, etc. - just to name a few.

1 comment:

Eric Noble said...

Very good! I read the Milt Kahl interview, and it is interesting. I wish Milt Kahl had done more than just the straight characters. If his work on shorts like Tiger Trouble or features like Song of the South is any indication, he could do great humor, and do characters that are far more interesting to watch. He was given characters with no discernible personality mostly, or bland personalities. However, I must say his animation of Alice is stupendous. Mike Russo brought this up. It's the scene in the courtroom where we see her reaction to the Queen's unbirthday celebration or the scene with the flamingo. There was caricature in there, making her feel more human and elastic. I would have loved to have seen more of that. He was a caricaturist at heart, like Ward Kimball and Bill Tytla.