Please note: if an earlier link doesn't work, it may have changed following an update! Check the Category Labels in the side-bar on the right! There you can find animator drafts for sixteen complete Disney features and eighty-six shorts,
as well as Action Analysis Classes and many other vintage animation documents!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas 2009
From our new quarters on the Nordisk Film lot!

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Friday, December 18, 2009

My View...

Scene 1 (1907)& 2(1909)...
This is the view out of my window while at A. Film in Denmark at our new location on the Nordisk Film lot in Valby (Copenhagen). At least it was a few days ago, before it started snowing!

So what is it we see here? We see two of the oldest film stages in the world. On the left "Stage 2," built in 1909 and in use since 1910, and still usable as stage, with glass walls and roof. The inside is currently used as exhibition space of a few of Nordisk Film's most notable productions, with props and costumes. In the 50's and 60's it was used as the costume warehouse.

On the right we see another wooden structure. Now, keep in mind that founder Ole Olsen already shot his own films from January 1906, bought part of the area in the summer and was shooting at this location from September that year (though Nordisk film officially counts its starting date as November 6th 1906). But until 1908 all shoots were in the open air, even indoor locations, which means you often can see the walls blowing in the wind in those early films! Therefor they built "Stage 1," Nordisk Film's first stage built in 1907 and in use since 1908! The glass walls and roof were later replaced with wood when it became feasible to use artificial lighting. Stage 1 is currently called "Kinografen," and is used as the studio cinema.

In a corner in the back of Stage 1 is Valdemar Psilander's dressing room, with its original implements and many pictures of this famous actor of the silent screen, who, before he passed away of heart failure in 1917 was Nordisk Film's biggest star, together with Asta Nielsen who later became Germany's darling before WWII. Psilander was widely known over the entire world, though not everywhere under his own name. In Russia they called him Mr. Garrison, which they did not convey to the Danes, which resulted in confusion when a letter arrived at the studio inviting Mr. Garrison to a tour of Russia. They had no idea who this Garrison was, and Psilander did not get to go...

Of the other three original stages of the mid 1910's (3, 4 and 5), only Stage 4 is left. This was the dance stage at this year's Christmas party! The smaller Stage 3 was replaced by a much larger stage of the same name/number in the early 70's (our Christmas party's dining room and the stage of most of Nordisk Film's indoor shoots and TV shows of the last 40 years), while Stage 5 bit the dust only a few years ago when a new multistory Media building, which also includes the executive offices, was erected.

The face in the window reflected in the light of a Cintiq is mine...

For the curious, our move is nearly finished and we are already enjoying the Nordisk Film commissary food immensely! If you are disappointed because I am not posting Disney history, don't worry, I will return to that in a bit. For the moment, though, I am intrigued by the history of the new location of my own studio - please indulge me!

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Moved (largely)

Today, we moved most of the studio to two buildings in the very heart of the Nordisk Film studio lot: my Danish Desk looks out over "Stage 2," built in 1910 as Nordisk's second stage (funny how that works) which is also one of the oldest still exsisting stages in the world. I was close to writing Sound Stage, but of course there was no sound film recording of note back then (though it seems to have started in Berlin in 1896). Still, this reminds me of the following:

When it comes to sound film, Nordisk was an early player. After the founder Ole Olsen's death, Nordisk Film's new owner Carl Bauder had procured the patent of the Danish inventors Poulsen and Petersen for a sound-on-film method and proceded to produce the film Eskimo in 1930 in four versions: a silent, a Norwegian, a German and a French version. Thus, the first true Danish "Tale- og Tonefilm" (Talk- and Soundfilm) was Præsten i Vejlby (The Priest of Vejlby) released May 1931, followed later that year by Hotel Paradis, and in 1932 by Kirke og Orgel (Church and Organ). These three films were based on heavy Danish literature, with a script by theater-writer Fleming Lynge (pronounced "lúh-nguh"). Actually, eight days before that last film, Nordisk released a light comedy called Skal Vi Vædde en Million? (Shall we bet a million?), also with a script by Lynge, who lived from 1896 to 1970 and basically wrote all of Nordisk Film's scripts during the 30's and early 40's, and still wrote for Nordisk up through the 50's.

I especially note Fleming Lynge, as I have started a little collection of films written by him. Why?, you may ask. Well - some twelve years ago, an antiquarian bookseller around the corner and four doors down from my apartment closed its doors, and in the one-day blow-out sale, everything had to go - and did, except that I noticed among the empty shelves a whole little bookcase with strange, uneven magazines and bound books - or so I thought. It turned out to be the remainder of Fleming Lynge's private collection of his own scripts, some with his own hand-written notes, and even a theater script all in his hand-writing. About seventy scripts, including seven film scripts done for Nordisk Film, the earliest being Skal Vi Vædde en Million? and Kirke og Orgel. Now - I did not know a lot about them -
I just carried them home for less than a dollar a piece!

I enjoyed reading the scripts - Lynge has a personal and free-floating writing style and he writes much like people talk, more so than how they write, which is a boon for a screen writer. Interesting also that, in the musicals, he writes dialog and then just notes "they sing a song," and it was thus up to the songwriters, which most often included noted composer Kai Normann Andersen [but also Svend Gyldmark, known domestically for a song called "Hi for You and Hi for Me" which was later bought by Disney for the original Mickey Mouse Club,] to write something that fit the spot in the script.

As to the success of the early films, Fleming Lynge himself wrote about this in the book 50 År i Dansk Film (50 years in Danish Film) published for Nordisk Film's 50th anniversary. He noted the first film (Præsten i Vejlby) was an experiment and made very cheaply, and was quite a success. The second film was more expensive to make (not only because Bauder doubled Lynge wages after the first film!), which was the reason they decided to produce comedies - lots of comedies, starting with "Shall we Bet a Million," and giving many of the luminaries of the Danish stage a chance to shine!

It is an intriguing thought that our studio now is situated in the very heart of the company that produced those monumental (for Denmark) films back then...

Mosedalvej directly translates to "SwampValleyRoad" but don't go looking for a swamp. Driving around, you don't notice where Copenhagen ends and Valby begins; Valby is just a part of Greater Copenhagen. [It WAS a swamp back in 1906 when founder Ole Olsen bought part of the current area...]

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