Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Animated Thoughts: ASIFA/Central Midwest Animators Conference

Saturday was the annual ASIFA/Central Mid-Western Animator's Conference held in Grand Rapids. While we usually hold this event at the Community Media Center and charge an admission to cover the costs of animation supplies and venue rental, however this year it was decided by the board to hold the meeting at the home of  one of our members and forgo the admission so that the event could be more focussed on a 'meet and greet' between our members.

The board met up beforehand to provide reports on our office, brainstorm ideas about the direction that we'd like to take our organization, receive a report on the overall ASIFA organization, and discuss future events--like this October's International Animation Day screening and next summer's "Windsor McCay Day" up at Spring Lake.

Additionally, our IAD administrator Brad Yarhouse talked about the "Exquisite Forest" project that he's been working on through Google Chrome and invited any interested ASIFA/Central members to add to the forest he's already started.

Brad Yarhouse discussing the "Exquisite Forest" project
as Gary Schwartz looks on.
Afterwards, as members and guests started drifting in during the day, we held a potluck lunch/dinner and we all noshed while talking about ASIFA as well as our own personal projects.

Gary Schwartz during the show-and-tell sequence discussing
his animation workshop/lecture/screening series.  (also seen:
ASIFA/Central Website Manager Jennifer Peterson)
As you can see from the photo below, we continued to break with tradition as the annual ASIFA/Central cake survived the trip without falling on the ground on the way to the conference. :)

The annual ASIFA/Central cake, courtsey of Jennifer Peterson.
We had several guests who made the trip to our annual meeting who were happy to share their work with us and join the discussion on animated film as well as learn more about the role that ASIFA plays (both locally and globally). I was excited to meet a kindred spirit in Ian Bobaniac as we discovered our shared love of Japanese animation.

ASIFA/Central President Jim Middleton and guest Ian Bobaniac
Later on, after some of our members had left, Dave Baker, Jake Pollack, and Ray Pointer showed up to re-energize the meeting.

Gary Schwartz discussing animation history with Ray Pointer
One of the high points of the day for me personally was being a 'fly-on-the-wall' while Gary Schwartz and Ray Pointer discussed the events leading to the downfall of the Fleischer Studio (leading to Max Fleischer eventually working in Michigan for the Jam Handy Organization). Ray has done extensive research on Fleischer as Ray had actually met Max Fleischer when Max visited a friend at Jam Handy while Ray was working there back in the 1960's.* For an animation history buff like myself, who had just read about the Fleischer studio's animators strike in Tom Sito's book "Drawing the Line", it was fascinating to hear first hand accounts from someone who had actually met Fleischer.

So, if you're in the Great Lakes region, I highly recommend keeping an eye out for our events. The next one is coming up on Monday, October 28th as we participate in the worldwide celebration that is ASIFA's International Animation Day.

* Editor's Note: Ray was kind enough to e-mail me a clarification about his encounter with Max Fleischer at Jam Handy. In the interest of being as accurate as possible, I've updated the entry above and reprinted the following clarification from Ray's e-mail here, with his permission:

"The event of meeting Max was that he came by to visit his friend, Frank Goldman, and the two of them came into the Camera Room while I was showing my version of THE WIZARD OF OZ that I was finishing that summer.  Max talked to me for about 20 minutes, but that was it.  I never worked with him.  He was quite elderly and obviously ill, have lost weight.  If I had not been told who he was, I may not have known him."
~ Ray Pointer - August 11, 2013 @ 7:46 a.m.