Toon-In-Talk Episode 10: Interview with Rick Goldschmidt and John Brickley

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Hello and welcome to tenth episode of Fanboy Nation’s Toon-In-Talk, your rendezvous for animation interviews.  At the mention of the name Rankin-Bass, it probably stirs up nostalgic Christmas memories of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the SnowmanA Year Without a Santa Claus, and other holiday specials using stop-motion puppetry.  While Rankin-Bass might be best known for its Christmas specials, it was actually a major animation and film studio that produced many popular animated series and movies. The problem is that Rankin-Bass’ story is waiting to be told. Documentary maker John Brickley and Rankin-Bass historian Rich Goldschmidt have combined their forces to make The Enchanted World of Rankin-Bass documentary, chronicling the studio’s story from beginning to end.  Whitney interviews the team and gets the scoop on the documentary’s IndieGoGo campaign and talks behind the scenes information.

Episode 10

  • The first interview is with the producer and director of the documentary, John Brickley.
  • John wants to make the documentary, because Rankin-Bass has an amazing history tied to American television and nothing has really been done on it yet. It is a story waiting to be told.
  • John’s favorite Rankin-Bass shows were the Saturday morning fair: Silver Hawks, Tiger Sharks, and, of course, the animagic specials.
  • John has a lot of experience with film making. One of his biggest projects was the 99%: Occupy Wall Street film and it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize for best Full Length Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival.
  • For the documentary, John wants to license a lot of clips, conduct interviews, and use some voice over narration. He wants a more film approach.
  • Many of the people involved with Rankin-Bass are getting older and John wants to interview them before they pass on.
  • Whitney thinks it would be cool if they use animagic for the documentary or use an approach similar to John de Lancie’s documentary on bronies, which was also crowdfunded.
  • They’re using an IndieGoGo campaign and they have many cool prizes, including the opportunity to be a producer or associate producer on the documentary. Also even the opportunity to nerd out with Rick and John at Disneyland.
  • Rankin-Bass is important because of the amount of work they did as well as the variety.
  • They released a cult horror film called the Bermuda Depths.
  • Animagic uses a different animation process than stop motion. It’s very expensive to produce, however.
  • Whitney and John both hope puppet-like animation doesn’t disappear.
  • John has learned a lot about the influence Rankin-Bass has had on the animation industry and it is REALLY HUGE!
  • Rankin-Bass isn’t known as much, because they didn’t put their name out there as much as their shows.
  • Hopefully they can get Jules Bass for interview.
  • Rick and John are really the sole driving force behind the documentary. This project will not only document an untold history, it will also appeals to a lot of Rankin-Bass fans who are curious about the company’s history.
  • Rankin-Bass joins a huge amount of animation that has been passed over in cinema history.
  • The second interview is with Rick Goldschmidt.
  • Whitney gets an important questions answered, she’s been waiting years to know: a Dolly for Sue is clinically depressed.
  • Both praise Romeo Mueller’s work and how his writing has made the Rankin-Bass specials last.
  • Rudolph has some lines that are objectionable by today’s standards, but the special is a product of its time and nothing compared to some of the other shows that get past the critics these days.
  • The Little Drummer Boy isn’t shown as much anymore due to the religious overtones. Whitney compares it to Ben-Hur with good reason.
  • Rick became the historian by chance and had the opportunity to write a book on Rankin- Bass, so he took it.
  • Rankin-Bass didn’t keep anything from their shows and a lot of the stuff used to make the show was thrown into a dumpster.
  • Barbara Adams, though, took home the Rudolph puppets and the melted in her attic, except for Santa and Rudolph. Rick coordinated their restoral.
  • Danny Kaye and Arthur Rankin, Jr. were friends and jet setters.
  • Arthur Rankin, Jr. worked at ABC with a lot of celebrities and Jules Bass was an advertiser, who visited ABC regularly. They became friends and formed their own studio creating commercials, then they came across the Japanese The New Adventures of Pinnochio, an animatic show and the rest is history.
  • Rankin-Bass experimented with many forms of animation as live action to create a diverse catalog. They were successful on most of it.
  • Animagic has its origins in Japan with Tad Moshinaga, father of stop motion animation in Japan. It inspired Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.
  • Arthur Rankin, Jr. loved Bermuda and there is a museum devoted to him.
  • Rankin and Bass recognized a lot of talent and thus hired them for their specials. It was this combined talent that made these specials last for so long.
  • Rick compare this magic to Pixar’s early works. He knew them back in the early days.
  • Rankin-Bass has kept many stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood alive.
  • One of the main reasons Rick wants to make the documentary, because he’s only made short documentaries in the past and he wants to make something longer and all inclusive.
  • Whitney and Rick talk about how animation has changed in the past few decades and how Pixar has changed over the years.
  • Rick hopes to get some of the Pixar folks for interviews, because they were inspired by Rankin Bass.
  • The voice actors of Rudolph and Hermy actually lived together in the same retirement home.
  • Rick goes into details about the films based off Tolkien’s works from Rankin-Bass.
  • They discuss the educational approach used to create Thundercats.
  • Whitney has to know what were they thinking when they created The King and I.
  • The Enchanted World of Rankin Bass is important, because these stories need to be collected before they are lost.
  • Jules Bass is still working

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