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...
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!
I first remember seeing Erik Sharkey, the director of the wonderful documentary DREW: THE MAN BEHIND THE POSTER, when the film screened at the LA Film Festival within the Hollywood Arclight some years ago. I would see him again at the opening of the 2014 Glendale Forest Lawn art show, featuring the work of both Mr. Struzan and Bob Peak. In both instances, I was too shy and nervous to approach him; the guy seemed to be always flanked by reporters, or VIPs, or engaged in conversations that I dared not interrupt or intrude upon. Nevermind that Erik's also about seven feet tall, while I stand a whopping 5' 10" (or perhaps 5' 9" now -- I think I'm shrinking, and I usually walk with a somewhat stooped-over hunch.)
I finally communicated with Erik through Facebook som...
Last Thursday I did a Skype interview with Ed Dolista for the Indycast blog. We discussed the Amsel documentary at length, and it was great to reconnect with Ed and the show again. The podcast is now live... You can listen to it here.
We discussed artists whom Amsel admired, later artists who were inspired by his work, and other wonderful people who've participated in the film. (Name dropping time: David Byrd, Drew Struzan, Bob Peak, Mark Raats, Paul Shipper, William Stout, Sam Jones, John Alvin, Steve Chorney, Bruce Vilanch, Judy Goldman and more.) I also talk about Erik Sharkey and Kevin Burke's respective documentaries on movie poster artists, to give credit where credit is due.
I was recovering from a respiratory infection, so listening to the broadcast makes for a great drinking game --...
He also pays tribute to masters such as Drew Struzan, Roger Kastel, and the Hildebrandt brothers, along with the new generation of artists, including Mark Raats, Jason Palmer, Blake Armstrong and Paul Shipper.
When George Lucas departed Lucasfilm after he sold the company to Disney, he handed the reigns over to famed producer Kathleen Kennedy, who has produced some of the biggest films in history, including E.T. and Jurassic Park. Given her years of experience with blockbuster films, she is the perfect person to run the company, and both Lucasfilm and Disney have done an am...
Behold, the new trailer for 24X36: A Movie About Movie Posters -- Kevin Burke's documentary on movie poster art! Both David Edward Byrd and I were interviewed, and are featured in this trailer. The film will receive it’s world premiere at Fantastic Fest, which takes place at Austin, Texas’ Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar cinema from Sept. 22 to Sept. 29.
I can't wait to see it. Kevin's film, along with Erik Sharkey's DREW: THE MAN BEHIND THE POSTER, were major motivating factors in getting me off my ass to begin AMSEL: ILLUSTRATOR OF THE LOST ART, after I spent years pussy-footing around, making excuses for not doing it. I've gotten to know both Kevin and Erik, and their support and encouragement have meant a lot.
The interview was done over two years ago, and Amsel, along...