Ken Clark chats with Dick and Elizabeth Horn – Page 2

CLARK: It’s an ill wind

Dick Horn. Click for a larger picture.

E.HORN: Actually, it blew some ‘good’ my way. I have been very happy at Biographic with Vera, Nancy Hanna and Keith Learner.

CLARK: You were thinking of taking up residence in Canada on a permanent basis at one time.

D.HORN: I’ve been to Canada three times now; the first time on my own for six months in 1961, then with Elizabeth and our two daughters in 1967 when we spent six months in Toronto. There I worked on a series I would rather forget and afterwards we decided to return to England. More recently I spent a pleasant three months working with old friends in Ottawa in 1981.

From an animation exercise by Liz Horn.

E.HORN: We worked for a number of animation studios until 1962 when we decided to set up as a free-lance team. Since then we have worked with Biographic Films, Rank Advertising Division and T.V. Cartoons Ltd. on commercials, as well as T.V. series both here and in Canada.

CLARK: You were responsible for the title sequence for the Peter Sellars film “After the Fox”, weren’t you? – And didn’t you both work on the early Beatles cartoons made at TVC for the American market?

E.HORN: That’s right – and we entered a film for the 1967 “Man and his World” competition which was selected for the Cinematheque Canadienne.

Bear character for early Brooke Bond advert by Halas & Batchelor.

D.HORN: I joined Melendez in the Autumn of ‘72 working on the Away-Day adverts for British Rail. I guess I was in the right place at the right time when Steve Melendez first showed me the original storyboard for “Dick Deadeye”. I didn’t look at it too closely at the time, being the pessimist I am, I didn’t believe it would actually happen – it just seemed too good to be true! Consider; a full-length cartoon based on Gilbert & Sullivan operas, backed by Leo Rost, designed by Ronald Searle, Directed by Bill Melendez and animated here, in London? No mate! I thought, better get on with the commercials and leave the pipe-dreams to others.

Well, it proved to be more than a dream. By the following Easter, newly-refurbished premises had been acquired at the top of Carnaby Street and animators and layout men set to work. Jaques Vausseur formerly of Cineastes Associes in Paris was in charge of
animation with Bill popping over from time to time to spur us on or bawl us out as the occasion demanded, I had worked with Jaques before and had a great respect for his draughtsmanship and animation skills so I could hardly wait to get in to work each day, especially when I found myself working for the first time in a newly decorated room with the sun streaming through the window, brand new equipment and freshly-made coffee on tap all day! I felt I should be paying them!

Characters from Dick Deadeye. Click for larger pic.

Some weeks later the first scenes appeared in line-test form and I began to have misgivings; the quality was variable to say the least but I consoled myself with the thought that these were early days and with Bill and Jaques in charge all would be well before long, and I clung to this thought for the rest of the year despite the obvious lack of experience shown by too many of the animators, most of whom I’d never met before.
In June ‘74 I returned from holiday to learn that Jaques had died from a heart attack while I was away. This in itself was a shock but hardly had I absorbed this fact when Bill called me in and asked me to take over as Animation Director. My feelings wavered between elation and sheer panic but I reckoned the least I could do was try.

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