Friday, November 20 6:30 reception
A selection of delicious hors d’oeuvres from some of Lynchburg’s finest restaurants, and wine and beer.
The opening night program will include a montage of clips highlighting Tuck Tucker’s work, followed by a screening of a short, original documentary on the making of SpongeBob SquarePants.
Prior to the screening, Mr. Tucker will take the stage for an in-depth interview and a Q&A session with Jennifer Gauthier (Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Randolph College) and the audience.
Mr. Tucker will be introduced by Andrew Edmunds of the Virginia Film Office.
9:45 Post Program Event
Animate yourself on the dance floor at our Music Video Dance Party. (Free to Gala Attendees and open to the public for $5.00) 21 and older only.
William, (Tuck) Tucker was born Lynchburg Virginia where he attended numerous public schools in town and in the surrounding suburbs. It was at Virginia Episcopal school where instructors Susan Rash, Jim Hopkins, and Bill Jenkins took a personal interest in his work, encouraging his artistic and biological interests. Those interests would merge and become blurred in his college career. After exploring these disciplines at Lynchburg College, he transferred to Virginia Commonwealth University and undertook that schools rigorous undergraduate art program with an emphasis on illustration and animation. In his final years there he found himself busy moonlighting at Candy Apple, the only animation studio in the state.
At the same time he worked full time for HBO films where he worked for Robert Preston, Sam Waterston, and Mary Tyler Moore as a production assistant. The HBO folks encouraged him to ply his animation trade in Los Angeles and upon completion of the Communication Arts program at VCU in 1984, he went to LA with his former teacher and Candy Apple employer, Steve Segal. His goal, to take animation by storm, and start animating for Walt Disney Studios.
Upon arrival in Hollywood, things turned bad almost immediately. The car that Segal and Tucker were driving was burglarized and ransacked leaving the pair no materials with which to find jobs in mainstream animation. Tucker ordered new prints of his student films and hastily started drawing to rebuild his portfolio. His luck changed when the town’s biggest animation employer, Filmation Studios offered to test him for the position of assistant animator. He passed and started working on some of the worst shows ever animated. He Man and She Ra were the studio’s staples and Tucker drew enough scantily clad heroes and heroines to last several lifetimes. The silver lining in this schlocky cloud was that animation was about to experience a renaissance, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Filmation went under in 1988 at about the same time that Disney Features started aggressively making new movies. The little Mermaid was a perfect place to jump ship for, and Tucker found himself employed as an assistant animator in the studio of his dreams. The only problem was that the studio was top heavy with talent. People like Andreas Deja and Glen Keane were animators getting million dollar salaries, but weren’t going anywhere, leaving Tucker little room to grow.
In comes The Simpsons. Once again Tucker would hopscotch to another production. It was there, working for his friend, director Mark Kirkland, that Tucker learned most of his craft as an animation artist. The job meant drawing all of the character acting for the shows numerous personalities. The only problem was that animators had very little to say about the content of the script driven show. With this in mind, Tucker jumped ship again.
Ren and Stimpy was gaining fame in the animation world at this time. The show’s enigmatic and often explosive tempered creator was John Kricfalusi. John was puttting together a team that would decide their own ideas from top to bottom without being a slave to scripts. It was like working in a 60′s style commune. People openly smoked and drank at their desks, and did a lot of other stuff we shouldn’t go into. We made great cartoons, but the show’s freakish stile and even freakier employees made Nickelodeon Animation a very nervous. On top of that, we were habitually late delivering shows. It was a hard job and people were brutally honest with their criticisms of each others’ work. This meant that we created some very powerful stuff. Unfortunately, it came at too high of a price for Nickelodeon. Ren and Stimpy was scuttled, leaving the artists scrambling for work. Luckily, Nickelodeon would be also the savior of some of these people.
Around 1995, Tucker was contacted by an aquaintance, Craig Bartlett. Craig was working on a pilot for Nickelodeon called Hey Arnold. He needed a director and Tucker jumped at the chance. Upon completion of the pilot, the studio ordered a season’s worth of episodes. Tucker would first direct on these episodes, and then later serve as the show’s supervising director, and ultimately go on to direct the feature film. Hey Arnold, The Movie.
While at Nickelodeon, Tucker would also work on AHH! Real Monsters and the Rugrats series. Later around 2001, he served as creative consultant for the Jimmy Neutron Show until being tapped to do animation for the SpongeBob Movie. From there he directed another animated movie for Cartoon Network, a western themed film called Partywagon. Then he directed two more pilots, one for Cartoon Network and one for Nickelodeon Studios. Soon after this, around 2005, he landed a job as staff writer on the SpongeBob Squarepants series where he now serves as Supervising Storyboard Director. It’s been here that he has been happiest, working with top writing and drawing professionals who really know their craft. The artists are not bound by scripts and are encouraged to think on their feet, which is the best possible environment for creating funny cartoons
Drawing SpongeBob with Tuck Tucker
Sat., Nov. 21, 2009 10am.
Tuck will lead a simple lesson in how to draw SpongeBob and Patrick using basic principles of character construction. Crayons, pencils, and paper will be provided.
Drawing for Animation with Tuck Tucker.
Sat., Nov. 21 1pm.
Participants will be shown an animatic (a series of still images displayed in sequence) The animatic will be stopped at a crucial point. Then Tuck will ask everyone to storyboard a sequence that finishes a thought. It would be like a game of pictionary. People would share their work, and Tuck will pitch some of their work to the group to give participants them a feel for how Nickelodeon.
Tuck will bring bring storyboard templates for the participants to draw on. Pencils/erasers/sharpies & paper will be provided. This is for novices and advanced animators alike.
Battle for Terra
Aristomenis Tsirbas, 85min The film tells the story of Senn (Justin Long) and Mala (Evan Rachel Wood), two alien teens living on the beautiful planet Terra, a place that promotes peace and tolerance. But when Terra is invaded by human beings fleeing a civil war and environmental catastrophe, the planet is plunged into chaos. During the upheaval, Mala befriends an injured human pilot (Luke Wilson.). Each learns the two races are not so different from one another. Together they must face the terrifying realization that in a world of limited resources, only one of the races is likely to survive.
IDIOTS AND ANGELS
Bill Plympton, 78 min. Angel is a selfish, abusive, morally bankrupt man who hangs out at his local bar, berating the other patrons. One day, Angel mysteriously wakes up with a pair of wings on his back. The wings make him do good deeds, contrary to his nature. He desperately tries to rid himself of the good wings, but eventually finds himself fighting those who view the wings as their ticket to fame and fortune. Featuring the music of Tom Waits, Moby and Pink Martini.
THE GIRL WHO LEAPT THROUGH TIME
Mamoru Hosoda Tokyo teenager Mokoto Konno prefers to play baseball with the boys than gossip with the other girls. Stuck in a midpoint between child and adult and with graduation approaching, she’s not too sure of what she’d like to do with the rest of her life—that is, until a mysterious accident in the science lab gives Mokoto the ability to leap (literally) back in time. Once she recognizes the life-changing potential of her newfound power, Mokoto’s life becomes increasingly chaotic.
More than just a visually stunning anime adventure, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a metaphorical tale of teenage angst: Mokoto’s manic time-leaping reflects her deeper fear of growing up—a denial of creeping adulthood, of uncomfortable romantic feelings, uncertainty about her future, and a growing nostalgia for her simple high school life circumscribed by the baseball diamond and her two best friends.
MARY AND MAX.
Adam Elliot, Mary and Max is unique. A claymation animation tells the simple story of a 20-year pen-pal friendship between two very different people: Mary Dinkle, a chubby, lonely 8-year-old girl living in the suburbs of Melbourne, and Max Horowitz, a 44-year-old Jewish man, who is severely obese, suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, and lives an isolated life in New York City. It is very much a triumph of emotion, insight, and eccentricity—a complete delight.
The originality of the voices in this ever-spinning kaleidoscope of innocence and idiosyncrasy comes straight from an incredibly rich imagination and complete artistic vision. CAST Toni Collette, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Humphries, Eric Bana
THE SECRET OF KELLS
Tomm Moore, 75min The film blends fantasy and mythology to create a richly detailed and striking visual landscape, folding traditionally Celtic influences into a riot of color and detail that dazzle the eyes. The Secret of Kells has been hailed by international critics as one of the most beautiful films of the year and has just won the audience award at the prestigious Annecy Animation Festival.
Young Brendan lives in the Abbey of Kells, a remote medieval outpost, where he labors with the other monks to fortify the abbey walls against Viking raids. But a new life of adventure beckons when a celebrated master illuminator arrives from foreign lands, carrying a ancient–but unfinished–book, brimming with secret wisdom and magical powers
SITA SINGS THE BLUES
Nina Paley, USA, 82 minutes Tragedy, comedy and musical collide in this gloriously animated film. Sita is a goddess separated from her beloved Lord and husband Rama. Nina is an animator whose husband moves to India, then dumps her by email. Three bickering shadow puppets act as comic narrators as these old and new stories are interwoven in a post-modern retelling of the ancient Indian epic, Ramayana, animated in a dazzling mix of traditional and collage animation style.
A panoply of monsters, gods, goddesses, warriors, sages, pyromaniac monkeys and winged eyeballs fills the screen with vivid color from start to finish, while the narrators’ improvisational debates over the Rama legend join the filmmaker’s own tragicomic story and Hanshaw’s done-me-wrong tunes to layer a modern feminist commentary on the ancient Indian legend. The result is a subtly subversive, visually stunning, highly original work of art that is as enjoyable for children as it is for adults! The soundtrack i sfrom legendary 1920′s jazz singer Annette Hanshaw
In 2009, Jennifer Gauthier, Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Randolph College interviewed the 2009 Cineviews special guest, Tuck Tucker, supervising storyboard director for SpongeBob Square Pants
JG: What are some of your favorite cartoons? What did you grow up watching?
TT: I loved old MGM, Warner Brothers, and Disney Cartoons as a child. Sometimes, my dad would actually sit down and watch a couple with us on Saturday mornings. I think, however, the first character that I tried to draw was AstroBoy. Later I started getting more into Disney features. I loved the craft that they showed. When Don Bluth came along with The Secret of NIMH (1982), I had just finished high school. I thought, now there’s somebody I could work for. That was not to be, and I was later glad. When I moved to LA in ‘84, I started transitioning away from my interest in features and started to work in television. It was far more vibrant and clever than any features being done at the time. The Simpsons and Ren and Stimpy were showing the world what animation could do for entertainment, and the talent started migrating towards these shows. In the last ten years or so, I’ve become a fan of Miyazaki’s feature films. I loved every one of them that I’ve seen
JG: What training did you have for getting into the animation field? How did you get started in the business?
TT: I was taking classes at VCU in the early 80s with two guys who had a studio in Richmond. They had a small studio called Candy Apple, and I worked there in the summer between semesters. The head of the studio was Steve Segal. As it just so happened, he decided to go to LA when I graduated and went with him. In spite of having my student films and portfolio stolen from our car the day we arrived in Hollywood, we were both able to get work easily. He eventually ended up at Pixar before going back to teaching.
JG: What was your first big break?
TT: There were a lot of first big breaks. I think the very first one was working for Segal, before I ever went to LA.
JG: SpongeBob is reminiscent of the the Looney Tunes cartoons – why is this do you think? How is the animation process for SpongeBob different from other contemporary animated television shows?
TT: It’s true we do owe a lot to what was being done in the 30s and 40s, namely that content is decided by people who draw, not by writers in the usual sense of the word. No two ways about it. Animation by animators is better. It’s physical, funny, and springs from a far less hackneyed braintrust than animation from scripts.
JG: Who is your favorite character on the show? Why?
TT: I like the characters that channel adult feelings and insecurities. Mr Krabs, Plankton, and Squidward spring to mind. Also, there are people writing for the show who do a better job of getting into character for SpongeBob and Patrick than I do.
JG: Do you have any reminiscences of Lynchburg that have influenced you in your career?
TT: It’s funny, I’ve always enjoyed the reputation of farm boy on whatever show I’m on. Even by 1979 Lynchburg standards I was considered a bit of a hick. Probably because my closest friends were either involved with farming or hunting and fishing. Getting back to your question, I’ve been given assignments because of my familiarity with things “country” or “southern”. I think that these things influence my work honestly and in the very best sense. Take for instance the character Stinky on Hey Arnold. He was a rube from top to bottom. There are definitely aspects of growing up in the ‘burg that informed Stinky’s behavior. On another occasion, I was given the gas station hicks in the SpongeBob Movie for the same reason. Steve Hillenberg thought I would do a better job on that sort of thing and he was right. I don’t flinch from these sorts of assignments, I court them. If there’s anything from my past that might help inform a character or joke, I jump at the chance to let those influences inform the work