When Zahra Dowlatabadi and Catherine Winder so kindly asked me to write the foreword for this edition of Producing Animation, I was honored, pleased…and completely snowed under with work. I didn't think I could find the time to give it proper attention. My assistant begged me not to take on another project, so I politely and regretfully declined. But then Zahra, even more sweetly, assured me that the deadline could be moved a few months, and I knew that I could not say no.
My assistant rolled her eyes and proceeded to pester me, in the nicest possible way, to clear aside some time and sit down and write it.
I, of course, procrastinated.
And then I stressed and worried but still couldn't seem to find the time to sit down and make a start. Then one day, I opened the original book again and started thumbing through the text. I re-read some excerpts that I had perused long ago when I had just finished working on Iron Giant and it occurred to me that this is exactly what I do everyday – it’s what all producers do - they find a way to make it all fit in. The answer was in front of me the whole time, and I think it sums up why a book like this is so important. Whether, you are new to the task or a wizened old hand, it’s a wonderful gift to have the wealth and breadth of knowledge assembled here at your fingertips.
“The secret to Animation is making a miracle everyday.” My dear friend and fellow producer, Phil Lofaro, once said this about stop motion, but it is equally appropriate for 2D and CG as well. As I have learned firsthand, stop motion animation has its own particularly exasperating challenges like weather, time and gravity playing their mischievous parts, but anyone who has ever had a render farm crash on a Friday night or a 20-ft crowd shot to get through clean up animation in a week will understand the significance of that sentence. It’s about finding that extra hour, or extra moment of wisdom or patience to keep things moving forward.
I have had the opportunity to work with a number of amazingly talented directors and getting their unique and uncompromising visions up on the screen is always a challenge. So far I have been able to find those daily miracles. But as schedules get shorter and budgets get tighter, I for one am glad to have a book like this one to help me find new ways to fit it all in.
A big thanks to Zahra and to Catherine for the patience and tenacity it takes to bring out a second edition of Producing Animation (and for giving me a few extra weeks.)