One of my all-time favorite illustrators is the late, great J. C. Leyendecker. In an indirect way, his work played a significant factor in renewing my interest in Richard Amsel...and, in turn, my making the documentary.
Back in late 2007, I found myself out of a job due to the television writers' strike. I wasn't a member of the guild, but the strike so crippled the industry that the post house I was working for made a wide number of layoffs, including yours truly. One of the first things I did in my free time was go to art exhibits and museums to calm my mind. I also wanted a little creative inspiration, and it helped.
So when I read a blog post on Bill Stout's website touting a new exhibit in Fullerton, CA, of J.C. Leyendecker's work, I had to see it -- and it was something of a revelation...
The past year has been a bit tumultuous, from my father's death to helping a loved one recuperate from a heart attack. And now, after a three month hiatus, I'm back at my day job at Warner Bros.
I'm still dedicating a lot of time to making the film, though, and in many ways, I've never been busier. I'm juggling things on three different fronts: cleaning, restoring, and animating the artwork, shooting more interviews, and transcribing the video footage in preparation for editing.
For the transcriptions, I've been extremely fortunate to have a team of amazing volunteers and interns, located all over the country, to help go through over 40 different interviews -- entailing well over 100 hours of video footage filmed over the last three years. It's a labor-intensive but critical step i...
It's June 28th, 2018. Finally, the interview is about to happen.
Erik and I had arrived early, and set up the equipment by the lobby kiosk -- populated by the colorful cast of FRAGGLE ROCK. Enough time’s left for Erik to pose for a quick photo with Oscar the Grouch (tongue sharp with wit, but spongy to touch), and I with Aloysius Snuffleupagus (a fond childhood friend, to whom I can finally give a hug).
Ms. Cheryl Henson arrives, and after friendly exchanges, she looks at our setup. “This interview’s about THE DARK CRYSTAL,” she smiles. “Shouldn’t we show something to do with the film?”
Erik and I exchange blank stares. “Whatever you guys want is absolutely fine with us,” I say nervously. “We don’t want to inconvenience you.”
When Erik Sharkey and I first met with Cheryl Henson, our meeting didn’t quite go as planned. There was an embarrassing snafu: while I stated I wanted to interview Ms. Henson about Richard Amsel’s work, the Henson team didn’t realize I had intended to film the interview on camera.
My heart sank, and I had no one but myself to blame. I didn’t realize certain permissions had to be obtained in advance of my setting up my camera, lights, and tripod. I sheepishly put down my bags of equipment and apologized, repeatedly, to everyone for the misunderstanding. I think I blushed more brightly than I did when I first asked a cute girl to my high school prom. I felt bad for Ms. Henson. I felt bad for Erik. I felt bad for just about everyone and everything.
“Hey man, are you sure you’re gonna be up for this?”
It is early October, 2017. Erik Sharkey poses the question to me over the phone the weekend before our first meeting with Cheryl Henson. Ms. Henson is, of course, the daughter of the late, great Jim Henson, and the President of the Jim Henson Foundation.
The meeting was months in the works – coordinating Ms. Henson’s busy schedule in New York with my flying out from California was a bit daunting – and I was eagerly looking forward to it. Erik was, too; he was quick to volunteer his time and help in support of the Amsel project and, to my eternal gratitude, in support of me.
God knows I needed it. If a film crew of two sounds like a modest endeavor, just imagine how difficult it is to be a film crew of one. Most of the forty-something int...