December 4th marks what would have been Richard Amsel’s 70th birthday, and I’d be terribly remiss if I didn’t post an update to mark that occasion.
Some people have asked me about the status of the documentary, as I’ve been pretty quiet these past few months. The reason was a very personal one: my father died at the end of September, and in the weeks since I’ve had to juggle work along with some funeral and estate arrangements.
My dad’s health had been in decline for some time, and I had taken intermittent leave from work to visit him on the other side of the country every 2-3 months. I was also able to dedicate some of that time to doing more interviews on the east coast – all of which I have yet to write about here. Please bear with me, more updates will be coming!
While it’s been a tough time, all in all, there have been a number of bright spots. First, I’ve been able to collaborate with a number of wonderful interns who contributed to the film’s animated motion graphics, as well as early research into archival news, videos, and images of the period. Their dedication and work ethic has been inspiring, and I’m grateful to them all.
A very special bright spot came just a few days after my father’s death. My friend Erik Sharkey (the acclaimed filmmaker behind both FLOYD NORMAN: AN ANIMATED LIFE and DREW: THE MAN BEHIND THE POSTER) and I paid a visit to the Jim Henson Company in New York, and had an extraordinary discussion with Jim Henson’s daughter, Cheryl, about Richard Amsel’s career -- and his work in particular for THE DARK CRYSTAL. We also had a tour of the Sesame Workshop, and were given passes to the nearby Museum of the Moving Image to see a current exhibit of Jim Henson’s illustrious career.
I can’t thank Erik enough for his help and support, as well as Cheryl Henson, Susie Tofte, and Z. Briggs of The Jim Henson Foundation for their time and generosity.
I’m also happy to add that I’ve finally acquired a new Amsel original for my collection: the artist’s preparatory sketch for THE BIG SLEEP poster. David Byrd posed as Robert Mitchum (and his assistant for Candy Clark), so this piece is a sentimental, as well as a creative treasure to me.
More news will be coming in the months ahead, and after the holidays I shall return to filming more interviews! To those whom I’ve lost touch with, please accept my apologies – I’ll do my best to reconnect shortly…