Timeline illuminating the emergence of Oregon animation, 1965-1990
by Anne Richardson
As George Hood recalls, “In 1965-68 everyone was taking one class – Deinum’s night course on the ‘Theory and History of Film’ and it included animation.”
From Rose Bond’s history of Portland animation.
During the period referenced by Hood, Andries Deinum taught at Portland Extension Center, where he encouraged students to see the difference between films, which were an activity, a verb, a way of understanding the world, and movies, which were something you bought tickets to.
In 1969, he opened PSU’s Center For The Moving Image. CMI offered access to equipment and an open horizon as far as the type of films you could make. Some students chose animation.
Bill Plympton used CMI equipment – he was not a CMI student, but his friend, Bob Summers, was. Matt Groening attended screenings organized by CMI students, but was never one himself. Will Vinton learned to animate at Berkeley; Joan Gratz at UO. CMI never offered formal instruction in animation. Nevertheless, it provided a meeting ground for all Portland filmmakers, including those interested in animation.
Andries Deinum, teaching film in Portland from 1957 to 1981, could never have dreamed the size of the animation careers which came out of the decaying blue collar city he entered in 1957.
I italicize films made by Oregon artists outside Oregon. Some people don’t consider these events part of Oregon film history. I do.
Films listed in Rose Bond’s history are marked with an asterisk.
PSU YEARBOOK AD (1967) Bill Plympton, future two time Oscar nominee
*MINCE MEAT (1968) Jim Douglas
*HOME MOVIES A-Z” and PUSH BUTTON MOVIE (1968-69) John Haugse
*EDDIE’S TENNIS SHOES (1970) Jim Blashfield, future Cannes Golden Lion winner
*THE COMPUTER SAID (1970) Jan Baross
*SEA SOUND (1970) Bob Dvorak
*EYE LEVEL (1971) Jim Douglas
*AC-16 (1971), Joan Gratz, future Oscar winner
HAND SONG (1973) Ken Butler
*CLOSED MONDAYS (1974) Will Vinton & Bob Gardiner, Oscar winners
*WINTERLIGHT (1976) Roger Kukes, future teacher of Rose Bond and Joanna Priestley
RIP VAN WINKLE (1978) Will Vinton, his second Oscar nomination
THE CREATION (1981) Will Vinton, his third Oscar nomination
GAIA’S DREAM (1983) Rose Bond, future director of PNCA’s Animation Institute
THE RUBBER STAMP FILM (1983) Joanna Priestley, future Queen of Indie Animation
THE GREAT COGITO (1983) Will Vinton, his fourth Oscar nomination
AND SHE WAS (1985) Jim Blashfield, multiple MTV award nominee
THE ADVENTURES OF MARK TWAIN (1985) Will Vinton, Oscar winner and four time Oscar nominee. Will Vinton Studio’s 11th clay animated film, but the first one of feature length.
RETURN TO OZ (1985) Walter Murch. Written by Murch & Gill Dennis, based on L. Frank Baum’s Oz books. Will Vinton earned his fifth Oscar nomination, for Best Visual Effects, for clay animating the Gnome King.
YOUR FACE (1987) Bill Plympton, Oscar nominee, future King of Indie Animation
THE SIMPSONS on The Tracey Ullman Show (1987) Matt Groening, future 12 time Primetime Emmy winner.
FAMILY DOG on Amazing Stories (1987) Brad Bird, future two time Oscar winner
MOONWALKER (1988), starring Michael Jackson, contained two sequences directed by Portland artists: LEAVE ME ALONE by Jim Blashfield, Grammy Award winner and winner of the Cannes Golden Lion and SPEED DEMON by Will Vinton, who had previously directed Jackson in a Will Vinton Studios’ California Raisin commercial. LEAVE ME ALONE and SPEED DEMON were made in Portland, at the filmmakers’ respective studios, although the rest of MOONWALKER was not.
DRUGSTORE COWBOY (1989) Animated special effects by Chel White, future founder of Bent Image Lab.
And people keep saying, “The animation genre.” It’s not a genre! A Western is a genre! Animation is an art form, and it can do any genre. You know, it can do a detective film, a cowboy film, a horror film, an R-rated film or a kids’ fairy tale. But it doesn’t do one thing. Brad Bird
This timeline is the third in a series of four, created for Sheldon Renan. The first illuminates the minor cinemas of Oregon. 1910-1965; the second h three NEA advocates for regional film (of which Sheldon was one), and the fourth the return of the independent feature film, 1966-1990.