“When I draw, I have to set standards for the narration of the image I am attempting to convey because narrative restricts visuals, which means that the drawing is always inferior to something capriciously conceived. On the other hand if you make a film in which the action is portrayed in sequences and you work aimlessly, leaving room for options, creating sequences you would most like to see on screen, it may be a series of excellent tableaux yet result in a terrible film. Creative planning is the key.”
Advertising is very important to him. Sociological changes are reflected in the posters of the Twenties, the Thirties, etc., we are not always aware such influences affect the curve of our pencils or our choice of colours, at least, not at the time. Only in retrospect are we able to recognise the connections.
When the Muppets first appeared it was thought they might adversely affect the demand for animation, and although it did not happen it was this show that went on to highlight the benefit of good secondary action. Whenever a character is talking, those around him are reacting, nodding their heads, agreeing, disagreeing but all the time supporting the leading ‘actor’ with their secondary actions. There are no static moments. You see secondary action when an accomplished ventriloquist such as Ray Allen performs. He doesn’t freeze when his dummy, Lord Charles, is ‘speaking’ – he acts the part of a listener.
Admitting to having varied tastes and interests he refuses to have only one style, preferring instead to give each new challenge the personal touch. Two other animators have been a source of inspiration, who really explored the areas of greatest interest to him. One was Norman MacLaren -“whom I absolutely adore,” and John Hub-icy: “Even with his failures, Hubley tried to achieve so very much more than the average filmmaker.’’ Norman MacLaren exhibited early 20th century French painter influences in his work, Hubley was more attuned to the second half, he was also very conscious of the differences in approach to the medium by artists and painters. He was certainly influenced by Picasso – this can be discerned in his film Moonbird and there was a strong Steinberg influence in his films, not directly, but enough to make you aware that it was Hubley’s interpretation of a Steinberg concept. This was valid because you always knew the work was a personal contribution and you could not miss his own elegant influences. He was reacting against Walt Disney and the conformism of animation and animators, that is why he used powerful images to represent ideas difficult to express in any other way.
Animation is akin to poetry, it delights in portraying moods and feelings, because with animation you are able to express metaphors, metaphysical and lyrical. Joie de Vivre is a perfect example of what he means.
“Joie de Vivre is a film I like immensely, and I believe Tale of Tales to be one of the most beautiful animated films ever made. They both make their points through abstract means, while not being abstract films. It is difficult to explain what Joie de Vivre is all about except that its raison d’etre is contained in its title. If Disney had made the film, he might very well have adopted a naturalistic approach, featuring happy little bunnies rolling in gay abandon in a sunlit field of wild flowers. Hoppin & Gross chose a more poetic, a more lyrical approach.”
If he had all the money in the world, or just sufficient to be able to retire this minute what would he choose to do to occupy his time? It would be to paint pictures. Oh! not for exhibition, or even for the delight of close friends; he would paint for the sheer joy and satisfaction the picture gave him alone. The thought of ever becoming the toy of so-called art critics is enough to make him shudder. He paints for personal reasons, as a means of analysing his own life. Of course he is delighted when his work appeals to others too, but their acclaim is neither mandatory nor even necessary. His formal art training has stood him in good stead and, while not deriding the rules and regulations of popular and classical art, he is firm in his belief that these strictures are not sacrosanct, not as long as they can be broken successfully. Art, he maintains, should not and cannot exist in a strait-jacket.
His old mentor must be very proud of his former pupil. Oscar met him recently. Now aged 59, Curios Garaycochea looks younger than his years, admits to playing basket ball every day of his life, runs his own school, writes scripts for television, “…and is a well-liked, lovely man,” added his greatest admirer affectionately.
Oscar Grillo has met very few cynics in the business of animated advertising, they take their work extremely seriously. And that is as it should be. If the end product is involved in thousands, or even millions of pounds/dollars then it should never be taken lightly nor treated with disrespect. However, when asked if he accepted there were occasions when the brilliance of the animation made you forget the name of the product, he grinned mischievously and replied, “Oh! I hope so!! – If we have a duty to the public, it must be that.”
Ted Rockley and Oscar are both interested in jazz. Ted plays alto-sax and Oscar plays the flute. As a youth Ted studied clarinet and while at school attended music college. At the same time interest in art and animation kept him busy. When he had to make the choice – music college or art school he chose the latter. A breathing problem he had at the time seemed to jeopardise any chance of a career in music.
His interest in animation began early in life when it was easy for an amateur to buy a single-frame release facility on standard 8mm film cameras. When Super-8 appeared, many manufacturers tended to omit this necessary refinement, and it has not yet been introduced on any of the domestic video cameras, making it more difficult now for anyone wishing to experiment.
He went to the Hornsey College of Art in 1971 because it had a Film department in its three-year Graphics course. During his final year the BBC was planning the Do-It-Yourself-Animation-Show and looking for students to provide animation footage to act as demonstration material during the programmes. It so happened, Ted was writing a thesis on Derek Phillips as a figure of interest in the field of animation and, as luck would have it, Derek and Stan Hayward were advisors on the show, with the result Ted contributed several of the exercises that appeared onscreen.