Tuesday, March 16, 2010
I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Blog
In 1959 , the NFB wanted Kaj to stay on staff for more explanatory films. Not keen on being type casted Kaj returned to his original ambition- making cartoons.
Ensuring the interest of the CBC, Kaj went to work on a TV pilot featuring his character "Peep". in the inventive spirit of the NFB, he developed a set-up to animate "Peep" on adding machine paper. During that time, a young talented British man named Derek Lamb arrived in Canada hoping to find work for the NFB. Soon enough, Derek started making a film based on the children's nonsense song "I know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly". It took a while for this project to take off.
Why is that, you ask? It turns out it was missing a bit of Pindal. Here's the story, in Kaj's own words:
"At a party one Saturday evening, Derek cornered me, and I guess we all had something to drink, but he made me promise that I would be the new animator on "The Old Lady" (laughs). So the following Monday when everybody was sober, I was pulled into the office of Wolf Keonig, who was now the head of the animation department, and he told me bluntly, that I was now responsible for this film. Not only that, I had to see it carried out, within reasonable time and budget. Further more, I was now made responsible for the money that has been wasted on it up to now (laughs).
So I wasn't too happy with it in the beginning, but I was moved into a large office, together with Derek. He brought in his guitar everyday, he knew that I have been kind of drafted on to this job, so he really checked my mood everyday. If he felt I wasn't in a good enough mood he would strike on his guitar, and sing a very funny song, and you can't help getting in a good mood with something like that! We became very good friends, because it turned out to be a wonderful experience to work with him.
I want to say I think both of us learned from one another, I had much longer experience with animation than he had. But he was a musician, he was a performer, he had this showmanship about him, that I could learn from. Derek had an ability to spot talent in people, not just for drawing and animation, but also for voice, he never went to an agent to find talent, he went out in the park, and could spot a good voice. That's a good quality to have! Derek had an enormous strength at the sound side of the film. I should tell you that his father was a gentleman farmer, but his hobby was to play magician on Saturdays and Sundays. Derek was in the audience, and he learned so much about making animation from his father, because of the play with the audience. He wanted you to see certain things, not to see other things, mislead you to believe that magic happens, which it doesn't. In a way, to go to a magician school is probably a very good school for an animator (laughs)."
Kaj and Derek continued to collaborate with each other, most notably on the films "Karate Kids" and "Goldtooth" which will be posted soon.