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Thursday, February 09, 2006

CANEMAKER, John

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Birth/Death

Birth:
May 28, 1943,
Waverly, Pennsylvania, USA

Occupation/Title

Animation historian, Educator, Filmmaker.

Bio Summary

John Canemaker is an Academy Award-winning animator and an internationally-renowned animation historian and teacher. A key figure in American independent animation, Canemaker’s work has a distinctive personal style emphasizing emotion, personality and dynamic visual expression. His film, The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation, won an Oscar in 2005 for Best Animated Short. A 28-minute autobiographical essay about a troubled father/son relationship, The Moon and the Son marked a personal and professional breakthrough in animation storytelling. Canemaker is also a noted author who has written nine books on animation, as well as numerous essays, articles and monographs for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, among other publications. He has taught at several colleges and universities in the course of his career, including a guest residency at Yale, but he is most closely associated with New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he began teaching in 1980 and was one of the founders of the animation program. Canemaker is a full, tenured professor who became the program’s executive director in 1988 and served as Acting Chair of the NYU Undergraduate Film and Television Department in 2001-2002. Canemaker himself is a featured commentator on many classic animation DVD releases, including the Disney films Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Fantasia Anthology, Dumbo, Peter Pan, and Beauty and the Beast, as well as Cut-Up: The Films of Grant Munro, The Mask, and Winsor McCay: The Master Edition. He has been interviewed on NBC’s The Today Show, PBS’s News Hour with Jim Lehrer and Entertainment Tonight, and lectures at film and animation festivals around the world.

Early Life/Family

John Canemaker was born in Waverly, New York, in 1943 and raised in nearby Elmira where he completed his first animated film while in his teens. Canemaker began an acting career which included off-Broadway and advertising work in New York City from 1961 to 1965. In 1967, after a two-year stint in the Army, Canemaker, with funds from acting assignments in TV commercials (he appeared in over 35 advertisements for major products, most famously leading a line of "fat kids, skinny kids, kids who climb on rocks" through Central Park for Armour hotdogs)—and appearing as a cast member of the 1972 WCBS-TV show Patchwork Family, in which he drew on a large sketching pad.

Education/Training

After graduating from Notre Dame High School in 1961, he moved to New York City, where he pursued an acting career for the next decade. He appeared off-Broadway, in stock companies and in over 35 national TV commercials. In 1971 he became an undergraduate at Marymount Manhattan College, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in 1974. He later completed a MFA in Film at New York University.

Career Outline

While studying for his Bachelor of Arts degree, Canemaker's childhood interest in animation revived. He began making sponsored animated shorts and wrote the first of more than 100 articles on animation history. His first book, the story of the making of Richard Williams' Raggedy Ann and Andy, was published in 1977 as The Animated Raggedy Ann and Andy. In 1982, he wrote the introduction to "Treasures of Disney Animation Art," and, in 1987, he published, "Winsor McCay - His Life and Art," and, in 1991, "Felix, the Twisted Tale of the World's Most Famous Cat." There followed "Tex Avery: The MGM Years" and "Before the Animation Begins: The Art and Lives of Disney Inspirational Sketch Artists (both in 1997), "Paper Dreams: The Art and Artists of Disney Storyboards" (1999), "Walt Disney's Nine Old men and the Art of Animation" (2001), and "The Art and Flair of Mary Blair" (2003). His research in the history of animation inspired two of his own films, Remembering Winsor McCay (1976) and Otto Messmer and Felix the Cat (1977).Canemaker's filmography includes independently-made animated shorts that are part of the permanent collection of New York's Museum of Modern Art. Among them: The 40's (1974), Street Freaks (1975), Confessions of a Stardreamer (1978), The Wizard's Son (1981), Bottom's Dream (1983), Confessions of a Stand-Up (1993), Bridgehampton (1998). In the early 1980s, Canemaker animated several Childern's Television Workshop films, TV commercials, and, in 1981, created the animation sequences for the Warner Bros. feature The World According to Garp. He designed and directed animation sequences in the Academy Award-winning HBO documentary You Don't Have to Die (1988) and the Peabody Award-winning CBS documentary Break the Silence: Kids Against Child Abuse (1994).

Comments On Style

We can hardly imagine how much John Canemaker has done in animation. It's hard to find a difinition to fits him. He is a legend of independent animator. Canemaker has inspired a lot of young people and animators those who are embarking on careers in the industry. Significantly, John does this with his enthusiasm for animation. He positively thinks toward animation. He says, "It's one of the great art forms of our time, It's an art form that incorporates so many other traditional forms to create a new one."


Influences

Not only in teaching career, John Canemaker is a film animator well known for his intelligent handling of serious subject matter. His animated sequences for the Academy Award-winning YOU DON'T HAVE TO DIE, a documentary about an 8-year-old boy's struggle with cancer, were praised by critics. Mr. Canemaker, a [full] professor and head of the animation program at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, is also a noted historian of animation. He has published six books on the topic and writes regularly about the field for The New York Times. His most recent book, Before the Animation Begins: The Art and Lives of Disney Inspirational Sketch Artists (Hyperion) appeared in November [1997]. Recently, Animation magazine, a trade publication, listed him as one of the most influential people in animation today, along with the likes of Roy E. Disney, Michael D. Eisner, and Steven Spielberg. In a recent animation class, Mr. Canemaker reminds students of the importance of "anticipation" - the small, contrary motion a character makes that anticipates a major movement. If the character is going to stand up, he sinks ever so slightly first. If he's going to jump to the right, he first draws back almost imperceptibly to the left. One student has prepared a short film that shows a man drinking poison. After he drinks, his head shrinks like a deflating balloon. Good, as far as it goes. "Have some anticipation," Mr. Canemaker advises. "Have the head go out, swell, before it shrinks."

Personality

John Canemaker is very enthusiastic, artistic, creative, and inspirational. His personality totally reflects his works. The animations of John Canemaker have been described as hilarious, daring, and compassionate. With a career spanning over two decades, Canemaker's uniquely styled creations have been featured in everything.

Anecdotes

John Canemaker is an internationally recognized independent animator, animation historian, author, teacher and lecturer. Since 1988, he has directed the animation program at the Tisch School of the Arts', Kanbar Institute of Film and Television. He has also been a Guest Fellow at Yale University. Canemaker's interest in animation began in childhood, and it has moved him to write more than 100 articles on the subject, as well as several books, including the story of the making of Richard Williams' Raggedy Ann & Andy entitled: The Animated Raggedy Ann & Andy (1977). Canemaker's own films include: 'The 40's' (1974), 'Bottom's Dream' (1983), 'The Hunger Project' (1987), animation sequences for 'The World According To Garp' (1981), 'You Don't Have To Die' (1988) which received an Academy Award, Confessions of a Stand-Up (1993), and Bridgehampton (1998). Canemaker began collecting the material that comprises this collection in the early 1970's, and eventually obtained a wealth of material about the history, technique, and cultural significance of animated films. Items include animation resources such as: documentary material, drawings, posters, storyboards, recorded interviews and lectures, personal research materials for his articles and books, and periodicals.

Miscellaneous

In his animation research, The John Canemaker Animation Collection was donated to the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, New York University, through a formal agreement signed by the Library and John Canemaker on August 18, 1988. Additional material was received in 1991. Canemaker began collecting the material in the early 1970's and this rich research source, devoted to the history, technique, and cultural significance of film animation, will be enlarged with additional material of historical and contemporary interest. The collection will serve the needs both of Canemaker's students at the University's Tisch School of the Arts and of researchers in film animation. The John Canemaker Animation Collection housed in the Fales Library consists of documentary and graphic materials and is a source of information on personalities and subjects, both American and foreign, important to the history of film animation. While the collection includes copies of original material dating from the beginnings of film animation at the end of the nineteenth century, the original material concentrates on the late 1970's and the 1980's. Significant portions of the collection relate to Walt Disney and his studio, and to Canemaker's own extensive creative and research activity, and publications.

Filmography

Selected Sponsored Films:

- SCARY THING; JUNGLE ROOM - Sesame Street (1974)- Prod.: Bruce Cayard
- ANGRY GOAT - Sesame Street (1975) Prod.: Derek Lamb
- DANCING BEAR (7 spots) - CBS/Captain Kangaroo (1975) - Prod.: Bruce Cayard
- THE BOYS FROM TERMITE TERRACE (1975) - CBS Camera Three documentary. Writer and on-camera host: John Canemaker
- OSTRICH; KITTY; FLEA (1976) - CTW: The Electric Company - Prod.: Bruce Cayard
- THE ART OF OSKAR FISHINGER (1977) - CBS Camera Three documentary. Writer and on-camera host: John Canemaker
- HAPPY BIRTHDAY (1979) - CTW/3-2-1 Contact Prod.: Jerry Lieberman
- NETHERLANDS (1979) - Hot Hero Sandwich/NBC. Prod.:Jerry Lieberman
- SNEEZE; HUMMINGBIRD, ME AND MY "M" - Prod.: Bruce Cayard
- Sesame Street (1980): LETTER "M"; WASH YOUR HANDS; NEEDLE AND THREAD
- ROCKY HORROR SHOW (1980) - Robert Fishko Productions
- CAPTAIN KANGAROO'S WAKE-UP (1981) - Bruce Cayard Productions
- WOMAN OF THE YEAR (1981) - Kander and Ebb stage musical/Michael Sporn Productions
- MUSIC MUSIC MUSIC (1981) - CBS Cable
- 80 MILLION YEARS AGO (1981) - 3-2-1-Contact/CTW
- CATCH A RISING STAR'S 10TH ANNIVERSARY (1981) - HBO title
- LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE (1981) - Prod.: Billy Budd Films
- THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP (1982) -Warner Bros.
- WHAT DO CHILDREN THINK OF WHEN THEY THINK OF THE BOMB? (1983) - PBS special
- DNA CONCERTO (1983) - 3-2-1 Contact/CTW
- CAMPUS COMEDY (1983) - HBO/Rising Star Inc. - title
- BENATAR (1983) - HBO/Rising Star Inc. - title- KAZ VS THE GYPSY MOTH (1983) - Chemical Abstracts Inc.
- EFFECTIVE ORAL PRESENTATIONS (1984) - Tower, Perrins, Foster & Crosby
- BRAINGAMES (1984) - HBO series
- LITTLE NEMO (1985) - Animated feature. Prod.: Tokyo Movie Shinsha
- THE ADVENTURE (1986) - Michael Sporn/CTW
- PEE WEE'S PLAYHOUSE (1986) - CBS/Broadcast Arts
- HOLIDAY INN (1986) TV commercial. - Bozell, Jacobs, Kenyon & Eckart
- JOHN LENNON SKETCHBOOK (1986) - producer: Yoko Ono
- WHO'S THAT GIRL? (1987) - Broadcast Arts/Warner Bro. - title
- LYLE LYLE CROCODILE (1987) - Prod.: Michael Sporn Prod./HBO special
- KOTEX (1987) - Kimberly Clark/Ogilvy & Mather
- WALT DISNEY/SILVER SCREEN PARTNERS IV(1987) - Duncan & Katz
- THE HUNGER PROJECT (1988) - THP/The Leland Company
- LATE FOR DINNER (1988) - Prod.: Cinemax/New Star
- YOU DON'T HAVE TO DIE (1988) - HBO special
- K.C.JONES AND THE QUEST FOR NEVER-ENDING DIAPER DOMINATION (1989) - Huggies Diapers - Ogilvy & Mather
- FOOD `a la FLOYD (1989) - Lifetime Television series
- WARNING: DIETS MAY BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH (1989) - HBO special
- WHAT'S UP, DR. RUTH? (1989) - Lifetime Television series
- REQUEST PAY PER VIEW TV (1990) - E.W. Power Agency
- KIMBERLY CLARK/ NEW FREEDOM (1990) - Ogilvy & Mather
- HATE ON TRIAL (1991) - WNET/13
- FLINTSTONES/JETSONS Interactive CD-ROM (1991) - R/Greenberg
- BISON BINGE (1991) - CTW - 3-2-1 Contact
- YOUNG PEOPLE AND RELATIONSHIPS (1991) Channing L. Bete Co.
- DANCE IN AMERICA - EVERYBODY DANCE NOW! (1991) WNET/13
- AIDS DANCE-A-THON (1991) - G.M.H.C. psa
- BEHIND THE SCENES (1992) - Learning Designs/PBS.
- SCIENCE EXPERIENCES (1992) - MacMillan McGraw-Hill/Terra
- CIRCUS FOR LIFE (1992) - GMHC psa
- THE GALAXY CLASSROOM PROJECT (1992) - Hughes/Umbrella Ltd.
- THE CREATIVE SPIRIT (1992) - PBS series
- FREE RADICALS (1993) - Este Lauder/Pharmaceuticals
- HOW TO GET BLESSED WITHOUT SNEEZING (1993) - Trinity Television
- SHELL OIL (1994)- R/Greenberg Assoc.
- ANGELS ON ICE (1994) - GMHC psa
- BREAK THE SILENCE: KIDS AGAINST CHILD ABUSE (1994) - CBS special
- LIVING FOSSILS (1995) - National Geographic Society.
- JET DRY (1996) - R/Greenberg Assoc.
- RAID (1996) - R/Greenberg Assoc.

Select Personal Films

- GREED (1974)
- STREET FREAKS (1974)
- THE 40'S (1974)
- REMEMBERING WINSOR McCAY (1976)
- OTTO MESSMER AND FELIX THE CAT (1977)
- CONFESSIONS OF A STARDREAMER (1978)
- THE WIZARD'S SON (1981)
- BOTTOM'S DREAM (1983)
- CONFESSIONS OF A STAND-UP (1993)
- BRIDGEHAMPTON (1998)
- THE MOON AND THE SON: AN IMAGINED CONVERSATION (2004)


Honors

1984 Cannes Film Festival Golden Palm Award: Nominated for Best Short Film "Bottom's Dream" (1984)
2006 Oscar in Best Short Film, Animated for The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation (2005)
Annie Award: Winsor McCay Award 2007


Related Links

A-HAA: Annies 2007 Winsor McCay Award Winners
A-HAA: Biography: Canemaker on Tytla
A-HAA: Comics: Otto Mesmer's Felix the Cat

Bibliographic References

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