Timeline illuminating the emergence of Oregon animation, 1965-1993

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 George 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, Deinum 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.

Art major Bill Plympton first used an animation stand at PSU in 1967. He was not a CMI student (he transferred to the School of Visual Arts in New York before CMI opened), but his friend and DP, Bob Summers, was. High school student Matt Groening attended screenings organized by CMI students, as did Berkeley graduate Will Vinton. 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 winner 

*WINTERLIGHT (1976) Roger Kukes, future teacher of Rose Bond and Joanna Priestley

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

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 

LEAVE ME ALONE (1989) by Jim Blashfield, winner of the Cannes Golden Lion.

DRUGSTORE COWBOY (1989) Animated special effects by Chel White, future founder of Bent Image Lab.

MONA LISA DESCENDING A STAIRCASE (1993) Joan Gratz, Oscar winner

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.