So earlier this week I was able to attend an homage of sorts to Milt Kahl over in Beverly Hills. First and foremost I have to thank my friend Clement Yip who tipped me off very early in April and allowed me to secure my tickets. I tired to return the favor by saving him a seat in a packed house. I even bumped into AM buddy Marcelino Newquist there. Such a small animation community this is, never ceases to surprise me.
Basically the event was broken down into either people who knew Milt during his lifetime or a showcase of his animation and drawings. There were various amazing stories, funny events in Milt’s life, and just a warm feeling that he touched a lot of people during his time here. Notable guests were Andreas Deja who showed his HUGE and impressive collection of Milt Kahl drawings. Among the other speakers were Milt Kahl’s daughter( Sybil Byrnes), Marc Davis’s wife ( Alice Davis) whom was a dear friend to Milt, Brad Bird, Ron and Jon, Floyd Norman, and John Pomeroy.
Other than sheer awe of Milt’s work I was able to walk away with a few things after the lecture. Milt seemed to bring everyone else up around him with his really high standards of quality. It would seem that even though he was extremely talented he worked extremely hard at whatever animation task was at hand. Apparently he was very honest with how he felt about other people’s work and wasn’t afraid to tell him. But he also would help a person on the team by doing a drawing or showing them what needed to be fixed. Someone who pushes others around him to be better is probably worth its gold in any studio.
Milt ‘s hardwork seemed to stem from his explorations of the animation. Apparently he tried several versions of each and every pose to find the most ideal one. Working hard to ” kill your babies” and strive for ideas after the first generation is extremely essential. There have been many a time where I’ve either had recommendations by peers to push a pose or made myself push harder, only to find myself much more happy with the later generations of ideas.
Milt’s assistant, Floyd Norman, said there would be times where Milt had no pencil in hand and was deep in thought. Concentrated. Only to pick up a pencil late in the day or the next. Floyd was convinced that Milt had animated and pondered the scene in his head. Which sounds like something Mozart would do if you asked me. But in the end, it meant that you have to own your shot/ scene. You’ve got to get into the moment of the characters, the moment of the entire film that you’ve been tasked with and just sell that idea.
Many comparisons to artistic geniuses were made of Milt. Mozart, Michaelangelo, and even being from another world. And his work definitely showed it. Whether it be the princes of all Disney fare, Sher Khan, King Louie, Mowgli climbing a tree, Jimeney Cricket running while getting dressed or Roger making fun of Cruela Deville in song. Just amazing. Milt was also credited with a lot of finalized looks for characters such as Pinnochio, Sher Khan and many others.
I walk away from these events feeling two distinct ways. MAN i really want to draw and animate RIGHT NOW! And of course, MAN I have a long long long way to go. But in the end great lecture. And I feel really bad for the many people who were left standing outside do an oversold show. I wish the theatre found a way to just cram everyone in.
Really memorable moment.
” the play’s the thing”