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Fred Seibert's Blog

Archive for July, 2009


The beast in him.

July 28th, 2009

Sing Beast Sing (excerpt) Directed by Marv Newland from fredseibert on Vimeo.

Regular readers aren’t at all surprised by the affection director Marv Newland inspires in animation fans. Like me. What most people don’t know is how much Marv loves blues and jazz. An affliction we share.It shouldn’t be surprise to close Marv watchers though. In addition to his award winning short Sing Beast Sing (excerpted above) featuring Willie Mabon (it’s actually where I first heard of Mabon), his film Tales from the Far Side (Gary Larson’s another huge jazz fan) is scored by guitarist Bill Frisell.And anyone who’s caught Marv’s Anijam (an early cartoon jam featuring 22 world famous animators) should know that he’s incorporated the lessons of improvisation are woven deeply into the core of his filmmaking ethos.

So, when I started thinking about producing a jazz documentary entirely in animation I immediately thought of Marv. He been incorporating the lessons of improvisation deeply into his filmmaking ethos from the very beginning (front and center in his film Anijam), and his generosity to other animators reminds deeply of the best jazz band leaders I’ve witnessed.

Here’s hoping I can figure out how to get this thing made.

Jon Kane gets picked and tugged.

July 28th, 2009

McAllister Tug Film - Now In HD! from Jon Kane on Vimeo.

I’m always inspired by the work that artists do for themselves, especially when they’re filmmakers (as many of you have grown tired of my exhortations to please make your own films). And, then when it’s a friend of mine doing to work, I’m doubly moved.

Like Jon Kane. Jon’s done a bunch of work with us over the years, but his own films just keep getting better and better. His latest was just staff picked by the eagle eyes at Vimeo, which caused the New York Times to put in on their Videos Worth Watching column.

My mentors: Joe Fields

July 27th, 2009

Jazz recording entrepreneur Joe Fields
Joe Fields

I’ve been posting quite a few of the records I produced or engineered at the beginning of my career, and lately in particular, the Muse jazz records. Which has gotten me thinking about the incredibly important role Muse Records founder Joe Fields didn’t mean to play in my work life.

Somehow or other I ended up in Joe’s office (above the West 71st Street Bagel Nosh) in 1976 asking for a gig “producing” records (like I even knew what that was). Joe, in his always enthusiastic way, happily gave me an immediate assignment (I think it was the first Linc Chamberland LP), and for the next three or four years I was a willing student in his unintended record business class.

(For those who won’t read the Wikipedia entry,  Joe started Muse inj the early-70s after a long stint at Buddah Records where he started an in-house jazz label Cobblestone. It was a label of jazz “blowing” sessions, meaning it was primarily mainstream jazz artists who’d come in the studio and in two union sessions –six hours– record enough material for a complete album. Muse Records was among the last of its breed, in a day where the most revered mainstreamers had gone corporate. The result was an unparalleled 20+ year archive of jazz in America from 1972-1995. And Joe continues to add to the legacy with HighNote Records.)

I won’t bore you with all the things I got out of those “lessons,” but suffice it to say that Joe had forgotten more than I would ever know. How to pick an artist? How to promote? What to ignore? How to negotiate? What’s important, what’s not? When’s a good time to take a chance? Who was Juggy Murray? What was ‘producing’ anyhow?

A few of my Muse Records productions
Hank Jones > 'Bop Redux Hank Jones > Groovin' High Willis Jackson - In The Alley Willis Jackson > The Gator Horn Willis Jackson Jaki Byard Linc Chamberland > A Place Within Harold Ousley Walter Bishop Jr. > Hot House Don Patterson > Movin' Up! Dom Salvador Joe Chambers > Double Exposure  Carlos Garnett harvest+2 Junior Cook > Good Cookin' Eric Kloss > Now Together blank square blank square blank square

Joe introduced me to the real world. Without him I never would’ve gotten to work with 24 track recording, or get to meet the legendary Rudy Van Gelder. To say nothing of the artists like Hank Jones, Willis Jackson, Jaki Byard, or the others. And, he didn’t mean to change my musical tastes –I’m sure it was of no consequence to him whatsoever– but I walked in dedicated avant gardist and walked out a lifelong soul jazz devotee. (Soul jazz didn’t only sell better and longer, but was a lot more fun.)

There was a lot of history in Joe that I just soaked up and it was always fun dropping by the office just to listen to him on the telephone, working it with an artist, a studio, or maybe a distributor or radio station. Things that were second nature to him were golden to my uneducated ears, and I just couldn’t get enough. My only complaint is that I wanted more. More projects, more time, and more money. Mainly more projects, because they were just so much fun. But, I was going broke on the $250 a record he was paying me, though I now know if he paid me anything more he would’ve gone out of business. Lesson #1, being a survivor in the independent record business is never easy, and probably requires you to disappoint almost everyone wanting a better payday.

It was at a disastrous Muse session in Brooklyn that I called my friend, Muse liner note writer, and future partner Alan Goodman to come and help me figure out whether to stop trying to make a living at record producing and try my hand in the then revolution of cable television. You know who won.

Working with Muse Records was a once in a lifetime, unforgetable experience. Not all the records I worked on for Joe were wonderful. And some were beyond fantastic, truly world class. But, no matter the project, it was a rare privilege Joe Fields allowed me.

Joe was, and continues to be, a generous man. Thanks guy, I couldn’t be a producer without you.

Muse Records LP label

Wow! Wow! Mopsy!?

July 24th, 2009

Mopsy Flopsy and Ted

A few months ago I posted the original pitch bible for Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! In that spirit, I thought some might enjoy Bob Boyle’s actual creative work that kicked off the whole project in the first place.

Originally, we were looking for a creative way to enter the pre-school market. It occurred to me that picture books could be a parallel universe to our cartoon shorts, a way for commercially minded artist/animator/writers to show their stuff in the best possible light. Eric Homan approached a number of folks, and Bob Boyle was one of the earliest people to show up with the goods (like he always is). We’d started working together in production with Oh Yeah! Cartoons (Bob even created two shorts of his own), and continued for through years on The Fairly Oddparents.

Flopsy, Mopsy & Ted was the second picture book came in with. It’s pretty much the complete template of the series that followed. With a few name changes –first the Wubby, Widget & Walden, then with a legal challenge to Wubbzy, Widget & Walden, and finally to W!W!W!–Bob wrote the pitch, and then the pilot script. We were off and running.

Kevin Lofton in the house.

July 22nd, 2009

It’s always a good day when artist/director Kevin Lofton comes by Frederator/NY. Carrie and I got to talk to him about his plans for feature films, TV series, and web shorts.

Thanks for Kevin’s kind permission to post some of his development artwork.

The Secret of Kells.

July 13th, 2009

Charles K kindly reminds us that our friends at Cartoon Saloon are opening their much anticipated feature film in the US this weekend.  The Secret of Kells premieres at The IFC Center in New York this Saturday. Get your tickets here.

Check out the Secret of Kells Blog by director Tomm Moore with Nora Twomey as his co-Director.