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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Witt's Daughter: A Disney Artist makes a Live Action Movie

"I was going to remodel my kitchen, but decided to make a movie instead."--Carole Holliday

Disney animator and story woman Carole Holliday has made her first live action short film,
Witt's Daughter.

Now, while a forty minute live action short film may sound like a big jump for someone who designed Roxanne for A GOOFY MOVIE (and animated in my unit in Paris), storyboarded on DreamWorks' PRINCE OF EGYPT and did character designs for JOHN HENRY (Disney) it really isn't that different. Live action has been using storyboards ever since Alfred Hitchcock's time (Hitch drew his own boards and also worked with animator Saul Bass on the shower scene for PSYCHO). The new movie and editing software and high powered computers means that you really can edit and mix an entire film on a Mac or PC yourself and achieve professional results if you know what you are doing.

Carole wrote the screenplay, produced, directed, designed the costumes, and did the sound editing. She had a large crew working in other capacities, and Alia Margaret, a truly amazing little four year old star of the show.

Here's a blog Carole made about the process. You can see her laughing and joking with the crew in one of the clips.

WITT'S DAUGHTER is the tale of Witt Stringfield, a Korean War veteran who returns home to his family after three years overseas to find that his four year old daughter does not remember him. She also does not care to know him. She is afraid of him. Instead, little Catherine is friendly with all the other male characters who obviously have come to her home during Dad's absence... her rakish Uncle Gus and his poker playing buddies all receive the attention that Dad desperately craves.

The film's atmosphere is well researched, which is what I expect from a writer/director who is also an experienced story and development artist. You feel that you are in the period from the first frame. Even the actress playing Mama (Mandy Henderson) has a period look to her face; she's not fashionably emaciated. The camerawork has a golden look to it that tells us that this is 'a past time'. We are, and yet are not, there with the characters since manners have changed as much as the cars, clothing, and home furnishings. The past literally is another country.

The film takes place in a time when people did not talk about sex in public (my father insists that no one talked about it anywhere) but there is an undercurrent there just the same. Witt and May rush into one another's arms but not right into the bedroom. (Catherine is present; they must behave.) Every other family in the film has five or six children. May has agreed to babysit a friend's brood of five when Child Number Six falls seriously ill. Witt demands that he is more important, that the wife's place is home with him. This, too is 'period' (depressingly so.) But the urgency of the friend's need (and Witt's selfishly not informing May that he was returning home) takes precedence.

Witt not only connects with his daughter, he learns that his own wishes are not necessarily the most important.

Witt's Daughter is an enjoyable, nice film about a father reconnecting not only with his daughter, but with his family and himself. It is a positive, optimistic film. Carole plans to make more. Good on ya!

Here is some more information about the film.

Congratulations, Carole!


Floyd Norman said...

Congratulations, to Carole. That sounds very cool.

It was also great seeing Carole at the Milt Kahl event last Monday evening.

Nancy said...

Hi Floyd,
You should ask Carole for a print. I'm sure she'd appreciate your comments.

So some of you actually GOT into that event,eh? Yes, I heard about the 'animator's Riot'. I never heard about the Academy overbooking an event before. That's a shabby thing to do.

Floyd Norman said...

Unlike Carole, I actually did remodel my kitchen. I spent at least twenty four thousand dollars building a new one.

If I had been smart, I would have made a film instead.

Nancy said...

Hi again, Floyd...
Well, it all depends on your priorites.

Nancy said...

And it also depends on your kitchen.

CeeCee said...

The funny thing was, at the end of principle photography on the film, everyone was standing out in the garage--the unfinished, cluttered (rat's scuttling in the eaves) Garage, drinking their favorite alcoholic beverages, smoking and laughing. I laughed to myself at that point, that it didn't matter what the place looked like, as long as people felt loved and comfortable-- they can be entertained anywhere...

oh-- and I got in at the last minute on the Milt Kahl thing. Someone's progeny backed out so she had an extra ticket. It was a Madhouse!