Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Deja Boop

Fed Ex delivered two boxes today from art director Fred Cline - boxes full of original materials from the ill-fated Betty Boop feature from 1993.  He found them while cleaning out his garage and was kind enough to ship them to me.  Original storyboards - an entire first pass - were in one box.  Another box had animation tests, scripts, and animatics of a few songs from demos by jazz great  Bennie Wallace.  Seeing this stuff again brought back a lot of lost memories, including the sadness we all felt when the plug was pulled.
I called Fred on his cel phone to thank him for the boxes. We talked for about two minutes when someone in the background interrupted him.  I heard him say, "I'm talking to Steve Moore." Then he laughed and the phone went silent.  Not completely silent, but like he set the phone down and walked away.  

"Hello?  Fred?  Hello?"

About fifteen minutes later, Fred called back. Turns out the guy in the background was Henry Selick and he was calling an emergency meeting.  Fred was in San Francisco storyboarding on Henry's new feature for Disney.  He couldn't say any more about it, and was again interrupted by a background voice. 

"Steve, I have go."  

I thanked Fred again for the Betty Boop materials, then hung up.  Ninety minutes later, I read that Henry's project had just been killed by Disney.  Holy shit!  It was like The Boop Movie all over again.

My heart goes out to Fred, Henry, and the crew.  I know exactly how they feel right now.  It's a very sickening part of the business, where studio gatekeepers can completely fuck so many people over.  Of course, I don't know the whole story, but I'm inclined to side with the artists.  I'm like that, and it's usually the right bet.  

And I usually ask, "Is it a good time to call?"