We got a bunch of hand-me-down records including, The Fox and The Hound. That record had not only music, but also some of the audio clips from the movie. We got to listen to all the amazing voice actors bring their characters to life. Amos Todd, what a grouchy ol feller. I adore Pearl Bailey acting as Big Momma the owl so wise, friendly, and well… momma like with the song, “Best of Friends”. And whenever I’m sick, losing my voice, I *always* try to talk like Todd the puppy,
- Tod: “Copper, you’re my very best friend.”
- Copper: “And you’re mine too Todd.”
- Tod: “And we’ll be friends forever.”
- Both: “Yeah, forever.”
Since I’ve been called to be a voice actor, I’m looking at my current and childhood favorites in a whole new light. I seek out the voice actors, intrigued by their work. Having done some cartooning myself, I also seek out the animators. In one of my recent research/surfing expeditions, I stumbled upon a movie called, “Frank and Ollie” about 2 of Walt Disney’s nine old men. These were the core group of animators that I discovered animated so many of the movies I adore.
Frank & Ollie were known for their ability to put feeling and sincerity into their characters. Imagine trying to create a character from nothing. Really, they might have only had a blank sheet of paper and their imaginations. WOW! Do you remember that scene in the Sword and the Stone where Merlin turns Wart into a squirrel? They animated it. Madam Mimm? Yep, them too. Jungle Book? Most of the film. To see all the films they took part in animating go to their website:
They Struggled, Even Though They Loved It
The idea of struggling or making mistakes is something that has held me back more than I would like. What would I have created if I’d let myself fail more? Try more? Fight an idea more and be ok with the fact that I didn’t like something? Is this a product of the “computer/video game generation” and the overlaying concept of everything must be instant gratification? Watching Frank & Ollie discuss these things, seeing them relive the struggles and knowing they came out on the other side was eye opening and lifted a sort of veil from me. Ok, time to stop telling myself “No, if it can’t be perfect I won’t start” or “No, that won’t work” or “Why try?” For those that have known me in my infinite joy times where I wear my rose-colored glasses and I can do anything, “yes, even I have my challenges”. For those who’ve only seen me struggle and when I was down-trodden, “See, you can work through to the other side.” And for those who’ve seen both and are the middle-of-the-road, neutral living/feeling types, “The highs and the lows create greatness, magic, art. For without one, we cannot appreciate the other.”
Frank & Ollie had such a long standing friendship and appreciation for one another that there were movies like, The Jungle Book where they couldn’t have done their work without relying on the other. What an amazing friendship they shared –friends, co-workers, neighbors… Their kids were even born only days apart. WOW! It’s not often you hear of such friendships today. But I would love to hear more stories like this! Friends and family are what make us great and help us through all the ups and downs life brings us. They shape us, encourage us, and surprise us.
Learning from their Animation Experience
I loved learning in the film that Ollie kept a sign at his desk that said, “What is the character thinking and why does he feel that way?” It’s critical for not only the animator, but also the voice actor, screen writer or author, director, and pretty much everyone involved in telling the story. I think I’ll go find their animation books. I’m sure there’s something I can learn and apply to my voice acting. “Oh ho ho, high diddle de dee… a pirate’s life for me.” -- Peter Pan