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Behind the Scenes

Film Clips and Behind the Scenes and Cast info

August, 1982: Local 839 voted to strike. The Screen Cartoonist's Union had a contract with the animation producers and it was up on July 31. All of our staff were asked to vacate the studio the following week.

At the time the Studio City crew was six months into preproduction of "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" with Aurora Productions. There we sat, Fred Craig, the production manager, Carolyn Warren, our Receptionist and Don, Gary and John. All work stopped. Our financing backed away. We weren't really sure what to do next.

In early September, 1982, Jerry Goldsmith, composer/songwriter for "The Secret of NIMH", called to tell us that he contacted Steven Spielberg and suggested he see NIMH. The same month, Kathleen Kennedy's office called to ask if they could borrow our studio print to review the film with Steven. We sent it over. Three days passed while we waited and wondered. The phone rang. It was Kathleen Kennedy's office. Could they have an extra screening? Steven wanted Kathy, Frank Marshall and their nieces and nephews to view NIMH with him. The next day the film was returned and Steven's office at Warner Bros. asked us to come over to meet. We were anticipating the chance to get Steven Spielberg involved with our projects, to have a Hollywood powerhouse to endorse our efforts and help the marketability of animation.

We met Steven in a large bungalow that housed Amblin and its production staff. Steven's office was very large, almost like a large house with a big living room. The desk (large) was resting in the corner, facing the living or meeting area. Excited, we listened to his praise of "The Secret of NIMH". He told us that he thought animation like this had died with Walt Disney. We told him that we thought it did, too and that it was our goal to restore the production values of the "Golden Age of Animation"(1935-1955). Steven said that he wanted to do a film with us. We were wildly excited. We had barely begun to describe the first of ten feature film stories we wanted to produce when he stopped us. He said he would like to do some research and find a project for us to do together.

We left elated. Soon, Spielberg would be calling with a project and financing. We could put the crew (100 strong) back to work. We had no idea it would be over two years before Amblin made contact again. We scrambled for a while when they didn't call. Luckily we met up with a guy who had a unique idea for video games utilizing hand-drawn animation. We produced Dragon's Lair, Space Ace and most of Dragon's Lair II, A Time Warp. The market for arcade games came crashing down in March, 1984 and so did we. The company hobbled along on commercials and short projects. The crew hung together, picking up freelance and working in our new Van Nuys studio (We got evicted from the Studio City building).

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Sparky Marcus as Banjo

Scatman Crothers as Crazy Legs

Beah Richards as Zazu

Additional Voices: Jerry Harper; Ken Sansom; Ann E. Beesley; Robin Muir; Georgette Ramponi

Effects Animation:James L. George; Dorse A. Lanpher; Fred Craig

Backrounds: Jim Coleman

Music Arranged and Conducted By: Robert F. Brunner

Additional Orchestrations: Bobby Hammack

Orchestra Manager: Michael Dvorak

©1979 Banjo Productions

In mid 1972 Don suggested that perhaps the training program at Disney wasn't really preparing us for the day that our leaders would pass on the Baton. He felt that we needed experience in all areas of production, not just as animators. He thought we should educate ourselves by creating a short film on our own using what we learned at work and applying it to a project we might make in his garage. Then, what we learned on the project, we would use at Disney.

Don had already purchased a 16 millimeter moviola, with 35-millimeter sound heads, and was studying Warner Brothers Animation at home, then applying it as an animator working at Disney. We spent many of our lunch hours searching for used film and equipment in downtown Hollywood. I remember searching for and locating our first 35mm Bell and Howell stop motion camera box and lens. We were so excited because it had "I" pin registration. This would insure that the film would register from frame to frame as it passed through the camera. It enabled us to do multiple passes on the negative film for special effects.

Our first project was to be "The Piper", based on a story written by Don's brother, Toby. It was penned in rhyme. It was about negative characters called the "Wont's," "Dont's," "Cant's" and "Will Not's". We were very excited, very young and naive, mostly naive.

For two and a half years we worked away, nights and weekends. Buying equipment, storyboarding, recording sound and even animating on what we thought was going to be a 1/2-hour television special. By the winter of 1974, we had a 20-minute story reel of colored story sketch, 400 feet of animation with an all-English voice cast. Toby had traveled to England to find a cast and record young English acting talent.

Some of the first players were Dale Baer, Dave Suding, Toby Bluth, Don Bluth, John Pomeroy and Gary Goldman. After the first year, Dale Bear and Dave Suding had moved on to concentrate on their careers at Disney. We invited a new player, Effects Animator, Jim George, to join the group (Co-Director Rover Dangerfield, 1993). By this time, we realized that the "Piper" project was going to be a lot more than a 25-minute short subject and decided that we needed to create something that was shorter and more feasible. Don told us a story of these wild cats that lived in the family woodpile at their small farm in Payson, Utah. He and his brothers had named a litter of kittens, born in the woodpile. He pitched a story about a little boy that runs away from home because he felt his father had punished him because of his adventurous activities. He "was only trying to have some fun", he explained. The story grew into a short adventure of a child who runs away from home to "find the good times", only to find that the "best times" are at home with the security and love of your family.

Toby took on the writing duties and came back with a treatment based on Don's pitch. Over the next few weeks, disagreements between Don and Toby culminated in Toby pulling away from our little group. Don in the meantime had written a couple of the songs for Banjo. He also began rewriting the story as a script. It was with this script that we began recording voices and preparing our story reels. John began animation of the first scenes by May of 1975.

This was Don Bluth's first independent project. As partners, John Pomeroy and I (Gary Goldman) worked with Don to create this 27 minute featurette in Don's Culver City house. We started the "Banjo" project in March of 1975, working nights and weekends, for 4 1/2 years.

During this 4 1/2 year period, we spent our days working at Disney on "The Rescuers", "Pete's Dragon", "The Small One" and the early stages of "The Fox and the Hound". Our nights and weekends were spent in Don's little two-bedroom house. About all the privacy Don had was the sanctity of his bedroom. In the second bedroom, there were two editing benches and a large screened Moviola. We also had an antique three sound-head Moviola projector mounted in the bedroom that projected into Don's living room. In the family room, we set up a simple rostrum camera and folding tables, where we shot our animation artwork frame by frame. In Don's garage, we had six animation desks and folding tables where we could animate, clean up the drawings, mix paint and ink and paint the animation cels.

In 1979, on Don's 42nd birthday, during a six week leave from the studio, the three of us resigned from our positions at Walt Disney Productions in order to start our own company. Fourteen others joined us the following day. When "Banjo" was about 3/4 finished, we used it as a portfolio to show an investor our skill level and our ability to produce animation. With that, and partnering with a production company, set up by ex-Disney business executives, we were able to finance "The Secret of NIMH". The same investor financed the last three months of production on "Banjo". "Banjo" was produced by a crew of 26 people, at Don's house, and delivered to theaters in Northridge (the Peppertree Theater) and downtown Hollywood (the Egyptian Theater) on December 19, 1979. It was shown for one week. This, we believed, would qualify us for competition in the Academy Awards for a short subject. No such luck.

It wasn't until late 1981 that we were able to license "Banjo" to be shown on ABC as a prime time special. It was not aired until June of 1982. On the evening that "Banjo" aired, the three of us were in London with Jerry Goldsmith recording the score for "The Secret of NIMH", using the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

"Banjo" was first released on video in 1986. The company that released it was purchased by the video company "Live", and its sales were less than fantastic. When that video licensing contract expired, and Don and I had moved on to work with Twentieth Century Fox. Fox picked up the license for a new video release of "Banjo". It is currently in video stores released by Fox Home Video.

Side notes: Most of "Banjo" was financed by Don's, John's and my stock options from Disney. Don also wrote the songs for "Banjo". When it came time to record songs and the score, Don mortgaged his house to pay for the composer and a 32 piece orchestra. Sparky Marcus was a Hollywood child star, whom we selected to be the voice of "Banjo". We backed him up with the voice talents of Scatman Crothers (Crazylegs) and Beah Richards (Zazu). We all contributed in many areas of production. Don storyboarded, and laid out, the entire picture himself. John Pomeroy colored the storyboards and animated a major bulk of the footage. He also supervised all of the key clean up. All three of us animated. I planned the camera moves, edited the film and sound. We even assembled the negative.

In the final days of production, our new editor, Jeff Patch, took on many of the editorial duties. Our budget allowed us to hire people to work the cameras, run errands and help in all areas of production. All the backgrounds, in the final production, were freelanced by Jim Coleman (who at the time was working at Walt Disney Productions). Jim now has a successful career painting and is showing in galleries around the world. Additional animation was provided by Lorna Pomeroy Cook (then John Pomeroy's wife, who currently directs at DreamWorks), Heidi Guedel, Emily Jiuliano and Linda Miller. Many of the techniques for special effects and production values were rediscovered during this production. There were various animators who came and went. Many became part of the "family" that stuck together for "The Secret of NIMH", the video games "Dragon's Lair", "Space Ace" and "Dragon's Lair II", and "An American Tail". Many members of the team moved with us to Ireland, and later to Arizona, to work for Twentieth Century Fox. What an experience! It forced us to work in all areas of the animation process . . . from dealing with actor's agents, to film developing labs, to final sound.

- Gary Goldman

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Dan Molina as Dirk the Daring Don Bluth's Assitant Editor

Vera Lanpher as Daphne Head of Clean Up Dept.(currently works at Disney)

Various Voices of Characters (Screams and Yelps) provided by Dan Molina and other Don Bluth "players"

©1983 Bluth Group Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Before the completion of "The Secret of Nimh" we began production on a 2nd feature, "East of the Sun West of the Moon". MGM/UA released "Nimh" around the 4th of July in1982. In August of that year the cartoonists union voted to strike. Though our animation team did not agree, they were asked to leave the studio by the union representative.

There we sat, Don, John and Gary, our production manager and the receptionist, wondering what we would do to get something going. In October Rick Dyer with his company, Advanced Micro Computers, approached us. He had an idea to create an interactive video game using laser disc technology. He also had a story of a hapless medieval hero, Dirk the Daring, whose quest was to save the kidnapped princess Daphne from an evil, fire-breathing Dragon.

It was a great concept. It excited us. The story needed work and characters needed to be redesigned, but the idea and technology sounded great. For the next 4 months we struggled to stay afloat. We had no incoming monies and due to the strike, our production of "East of the Sun, West of the Moon", was shut down. From November to mid-January we borrowed money from family and friends. Finally, Don's brother found a lawyer that represented some investment money (just in time). We worked like crazy to put together a demo of the "attract mode" and 3 working episodes of Dirk in action.

It was shown at the March 1983 game show, in Chicago. The game was a hit and our distributor, Cinematronics wrote orders on the spot. Money started to flow and we were suddenly in full production. We delivered the final game for the arcades in early summer and jumped into a second game "Space Ace". 1983 turned out to be a very busy year. Since then, "Dragon's Lair" has remained extremely popular and active. It has been programmed for Amiga, Atari ST, Mac, Apple IIGS, PC floppy, 3DO, Sega CD, Atari Jaguar, PC CD-ROM and is expected to be on Game Boy NES and SNES later this year. These games are also available on DVD, distributed by Digital Leisure. They can be operated simply by using the remote control of a DVD player.

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We are currently working with Rick Dyer in the creation of a new 3D Dragon's Lair game, which will be available in November, 2002. We're really looking forward to having full control of Dirk's actions.

© 1983 Bluth Group Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


Known to millions as the outrageous housekeeper Mrs. Naugatuck on the popular television series "Maude," Hermione Baddeley has a career in show business that includes singing, dancing, musical comedy and serious drama on stage, screen and TV. Born in Shropshire, England, she became the Queen of London's musical reviews and made her American debut on Broadway in "A Taste of Honey" to much critical acclaim. She starred in Tennessee Williams' "The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore," "The Greeks Had A Name For It," "Brighton's Rock," Noel Coward's "Fallen Angel," "Rise Above It" and many others.

Mastering still another medium, Baddeley won an Oscar nomination for "Room at the Top" on screen and charmed everyone with her appearances in "Mary Poppins" and "The Unsinkable Molly Brown."

Although told at the age of twenty by none other than George Bernard Shaw to change her name from Baddeley to Goodeley when he saw her on stage for the first time, she kept her name the way it was and went on to become one of today's foremost comediennes.


The characterization of the omnipotent OWL of MRS. FRISBY AND THE RATS OF NIMH captures the very essence of John Carradine in that he too is larger than life. Carradine began his screen career in 1936 and has appeared in countless productions including: "Stagecoach," "The Grapes Of Wrath," "Captain's Courageous," "The True Story Of Jesse James," "The Ten Commandments," "House of Dracula," "House of Frankenstein," "The Three Musketeers," "The Shootist," "Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex," "The Latest Tycoon," "The Sentinel," "The Howling" and too many more to mention.

His theatrical experience spans a very broad spectrum from Shakespear to "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum." At one time he owned a repertory theatre in San Francisco where he produced, directed and starred in numerous productions.


Currently starring in Mel Brooks' "History of the World, Part I," DeLuise continues a happy association with Brooks that includes "Silent Movie," "Blazing Saddles" and "The Twelve Chairs." His other screen credits include: "Fatso," "Smokey and the Bandit II," "Cannonball Run," "The End," "The World's Greatest Lover," "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother," "The Last Married Couple in America," "Wholly Moses," "The Cheap Detective," "The Busybody," and many more.

He made his feature film directorial debut with "Hot Stuff" in which he also starred, and directed the stage presentation of "Same Time, Next Year" at the Burt Reynolds' Playhouse in Jupiter, Florida.

His stage appearances include "The Student Gypsy," "Last of the Red Hot Lovers," and "Here's Love," and he spent two seasons doing theatre at the Cleveland Playhouse in "School for Scandal," "Hamlet" and "Stalag 17" among others. No stranger to television, his introduction to the medium was on "The Garry Moore Show" as Dominick the Great, a bumbling magician. His later TV credits include two series of his own: "The Dom DeLuise Variety Show" and "Lotsa Luck" plus regular guest shots on major talk and variety programs.


Hartman made a big splash on screen in the sixties with starring roles in Sidney Lumet's "The Group," "You're a Big Boy Now," "The Fixer," and "Patch of Blue" for which she received an Academy nomination for best actress. More recently, she starred in "Full Moon High" and "Intermission" for the big screen, a television pilot for Lorimar entitled "Cages" plus numerous television appearances. Her theatrical background includes "Our Town," "Mad Women of Chaillot," "Bus Stop," "Becket," "Glass Menagerie" and many more.



A long list of credits since his first role in the 1981 film, A Long Way from Home. He has acted in The Last Starfighter; Stand By Me; The Man Who Fell to Earth; TV's Star Trek: The Next Generation; Toy Soldiers; and Disney's Flubber (1997).


She started her career on the TV show Little House on the Prairie. After The Secret of NIMH, her credits include Night Shift; Girls Just Want to Have Fun; Outlaws; the TV seriesBeverly Hills 90210; Naked Gun 331/3; Striking Poses; plus the TV series Charmed and several TV movies.


Jodi's career as a child actor claims only three credits, the TV movie A Long Way Home, (1981); NIMH, (1982) and Right of Way (TV 1983).


Ian's child acting film debut was in Rocky III as Rocky Junior. He went on to work on Two Marriages, (1983); Fathers and Sons, (1986); Rock and Roll Mom and The Willies, (1991).


We made the mistake of not saying Sullivan's name anywhere in the film. We should have had Jenner say his name at least once. So, if and when you checked the credits, there was a Sullivan there in the credits with Aldo Ray's name as the voice, but you may have been left wondering which character was Sullivan. He was Jenner's accomplice and in the end redeemed himself by slaying Jenner with his dagger.


British born Derek Jacobi, long recognized as one of England's most gifted classical actors, gives voice to the key character of Nicodemus. Jacobi gained his first measures of American fame for his virtuoso title role performance in "I, Claudius," for which he was named Best Television Actor in 1976 by the British Academy of Film and Television Awards. His recent credits include stunning leads in the productions of "Hamlet" and "Richard II" for the PBS on-going cycle of Shakespeare plays. During 1980, he made his Broadway debut starring in the Russian satirical comedy, "The Suicide." The year also found him starring as Burgess in the television docu-drama, "Philby, Burgess and MacLean."


Born in England, raised in Wales, Mr. Malet has made the United States his home since his teens. He has won several theatrical acting awards including: The Vernon Rice Award, the New York Drama Desk Award, an Obie, a Theatre Arts Actor of the Year Award, the Village Voice Theatre Award, and the Lola D'Annunzio Award from Circle in the Square, New York City. His Broadway appearances include "Look After Lulu" with Noel Coward, "Shadow Of The Gunman" and "Moonbirds." He was in "Waiting for Godot" and "The Balcony" off-Broadway in New York. No stranger to television, he has appeared in approximately thirty television shows including "Barney Miller," "Palmer Town, U.S.A" and "Bosom Buddies." His screen credits include the recently completed "Savage Harvest," 'Heaven Can Wait," "Halloween," "Heat of the Night," "Mary Poppins" and "Robinson Crusoe."


His portrayal of Orson Welles in ABC-TV's "The Night That Panicked America" earned Paul Shenar rave reviews from national critics. Most recently seen in NBC's epic presentation "Beulah Land," "Suddenly Love" and "Zeigfeld, the Man and his Women," Shenar is no stranger to television with some thirty additional productions to his credit. >A founding member, actor, director, teacher and student of William Ball's prestigious American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, he has played upwards of forty roles including "Hamlet," "Oedipus Rex," and "Tiny Alice," and had toured the entire country with ACT. His forceful characterization of Jenner marks his first experience in the field of animation.


Peter Strauss comes to the role of Justin, Captain of the Guard and loyal follower of Nicodemus, with a wealth of acting experience in theatre, television and film. Most noted for his Emmy and Golden Globe nominated performance in ABC-TV's epic production of "Rich Man, Poor Man," the title role in ABC's "Young Joe, The Forgotten Kennedy" and "The Jericho Mile" for which he won an Emmy in 1979, Strauss has been acting and directing since he was thirteen years old. He stars with Peter O'Toole in "Masada," an eight hour movie for television produced by MCA Universal.

©1981 Mrs. Frisby Ltd. World Rights Reserved.

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Jodi Benson


Gino Conforti


Barbara Cook


Will Ryan

Queen Tabitha

June Foray

King Colbert

Kenneth Mars

Prince Cornelius

Gary Imhoff

Ma Toad



Joe Lynch


Danny Mann


Loren Michaels

Berkley Beetle

Gilbert Gottfried

Miss Fieldmouse

Carol Channing

Mr. Mole

John Hurt

"Follow your heart and nothing is impossible."

Thumbelina marked our first working relationship with songwriters Barry Manilow, Jack Feldman and Bruce Sussman. These men also wrote material for Pebble and the Penquin. Their enthusiasm for the project was inspirational. Barry wrote the melodies and Jack and Bruce wrote the lyrics. They came to Ireland several times to write, do some music spotting and record the final score with William Ross. Bill composes excellent film scores. The process went so smoothly we explored other projects to do with this team.

Rowland B. Wilson and his wife Suzanne Lemieux were instrumental with the design and art direction of the film, along with long-time Bluth background artist and Art Director for Thumbelina, Barry Atkinson.

A flight through the ancient city of Paris in the opening sequence tested our wings with CGI moving environments. By today's standards it is crude, but we were very proud of the artists who did the work. Tom Miller built the city and moved the camera through it.

During our financial difficulties with the bank in Belguim, the court trustee was asked to show Thumbelina to Disney's Buena Vista distribution and animation marketing team. They made an offer to buy the film but the trustee was trying to find a home for the entire company, it's product and the employees. No deal.

One of our favorite sequences in Thumbelina was when Ma Toad (Charo) sings, "On The Road". The songwriters wrote this fast-paced lyric especially for her (she is known to sing songs like this), but even she found it challenging. Don and the dialogue editor, Nikki Moss, got to travel to Maui, Hawaii, near her home, to record her.

This was the first of a three picture deal with our Belgian investment partners. The project began as we finished the storyboarding of Rock-A-Doodle in 1989-90. We were riding an exciting wave. We had successfully leaped from funding from Universal to Goldcrest Film and Television to a new prospective investor, Maurice DePrince of Super Club video stores in Europe. Just prior to sealing the deal, however, Mr. DePrince's company went into finacial difficulties and the deal shifted to two friends of his. One was a successful restauranteur and the other the president of an investment division of a large Belgian bank.

Our scriptwriter produced a script that we felt veered far from the original Hans Christian Andersen story and became a more of a soapbox for women's rights. It seemed to have lost the innocence and charm of the audience it was intended for. It was now presented in an adult format. Creating this version had exhausted our scripting budget, so it was decided that Don would do the adaptation himself. The result of his efforts is an animated Thumbelina that reflects the mood of the original Andersen fairy tale.

Irish actress Angeline Ball was the live action reference actress for Thumbelina. She was a great performer. She could dance and sing. Her lip syncs to the dialogues of voice actress Jodi Benson were always perfect. Animators really hate working with live action reference, but with human characters, we want their acting and movements to at least be based on good performances from a professional actor.

We had a team of 390 artists and technicians in the Dublin studio and another 85 artists and technicians in our Burbank studio all making contributions to this project. John Pomeroy was artistic leader with Cathy Jones, Jean Morel and Dave Kupczyk supervising the animators in the LA studio. The Dublin studio was thriving with artists from all over the world; Canada, East Germany, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Brazil, Iceland, New Zealand, Ireland, England, Greece, Trinidad and Tobago, and the USA. John Hill, Len Simon, Richard Bazley and Pete DeRycker supervised the Dublin animation team.

In 1991, Chuck Jones visited the studio during the Dublin Film Festival. We showed him a reel of Thumbelina. He was very complimentary. He offered all the animators a raise to come work for him. We thanked him for all his compliments as we promptly ushered him out. This was no time to break up the team.

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Cale, voiced by Matt Damon, is the reluctant hero of the Titan story. When he was five, his father flew into distant space to hide the Titan, but he never returned. Cale felt abandoned by this and at age twenty, still holds a grudge. Persecuted and killed, the human race has been reduced to drifter colonies in outer space; Cale is the key to saving them. Unless he can reconnect with his own humanity, all will be lost.


Akima, voiced by Drew Barrymore, is the pilot of the Valkyrie. She's a kick butt-take-no-prisoners type of gal, and you definitely want to stay on her good side. Her mission is to find a home for the human race; that means finding the Titan, and she is determined to enlist Cale's help. He's the key to its whereabouts. The chemistry between them gets this to happen.



Korso, voiced by Bill Pullman, is the adventurous, courageous captain of the Valkyrie. If you're ever assigned to the front lines, take Captain Korso along; he's a real fighter. Cale also comes to see him as the father he never had. Korso facilitates Cale's rite of passage and shows him the meaning of trust, which is so rare between two men. Korso also seeks the Titan with a slightly unique spin.

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Gune, voiced by John Leguizamo, is the Valkyrie's chief navigator. He's everything his name suggests, funny, eccentric, goony, and makes no good sense to anyone - except when he plots a course in the galaxy, then he's never wrong. Gune is the most childlike member of the cast and I think the children in the audience will dig him the most.

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Preed, voiced by Nathan Lane, is an Akrenian who doesn't bathe much, has no dreams, and lusts like a rabbit in heat after Akima, although there's not a prayer that he'll ever have her. He's a creepy alien with dull gray skin and foul breath. Nonetheless, Korso values Preed's ability to strategize and so signed him as first mate on the Valkyrie.


Stith, voiced by Janeane Garofalo, is the Valkyrie's weapons expert. Probably a charter member of the NRA. Anything that blows up, stabs, suffocates, or goes BANG! BANG!, she's got it. Her solution to any opposition is, "BLAST IT." Even her dialogue is like a bullet, sharp and caustic, always on the attack. She's the alien who alienates, except for Preed. Him, she really hates. Why? He's devious.

TEK: Tone Loc

SAM TUCKER: Ron Perlman

COOK: Jim Breuer

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©1999-2000 Fox and related entities.

Recording the actors for an animated movie is always serendipity to the max. John Leguizamo for example, pushed his creativity in a way that really caught me off guard. When he arrived in New York to record his voice, he had rewritten all his lines. Granted they were funnier, but he also rewrote the entire script, including himself in every scene. Nice try John, we'll use it for the sequel.


is nearly finished. It will blast its way onto U.S. theatre screens mid June. Someone asked me the other day what it was like to direct this science fiction epic, and I found myself stuttering as I groped for an answer. Don't get me wrong, as it turns out, it's a fair piece of entertainment. It's just that during the production of it, I felt somewhat ill prepared. You know, like a juggler in the circus who had to help out on the trapeze when one of the guys fell and broke his neck. What the heck did I know about directing Sci-Fi movies? Nothing. Fact is, I inherited the assignment from its previous directors, Joe and Moe, (not their real names). Thanks guys. These two fellows were fascinating to watch, and watch I did for one year as they and their talented team produced thousands of pieces of the most incredible, mind-boggling artwork. It was even rumored that the script was sweeping, epic, riveting, compelling, and beyond all human imagination; and of course, it was top secret. Luckily, I had contacts, and I had my sources, and this is what they told me. "Picture this, Don. An alien power which hates humans, descends upon planet Earth and blows it to smithereens. A few people survive the attack, and set up 'Drifter Colonies' out there in deep space. Will they be able to exist without a planet? Will humans become extinct? Who can save them?" "Wow, that's awesome," I thought. "How do you animate that?" Just then the phone rang, it was Bill Mechanic, President of Fox Entertainment, asking Gary and I to come out to LA for lunch. "Uh oh" I thought, "that's trouble."


"Unfortunately," began Bill, "Joe and Moe have been assigned to a bigger picture." I gnawed on my carrot nervously, as he continued. "I want you and Gary to take over TITAN." In those days, it was called 'Planet Ice'. "You want what?" I said choking a bit on my carrot, but still keeping my smile. "TITAN", he repeated. "You boys want to do it?" He sipped the Perrier from the crystal glass, and waited for an answer. In Hollywood, one thinks very carefully before responding.


"Bill!" I snapped. "Are you nuts!? We do mouse pictures. I went along with you on that ANASTASIA thing, but this is pushing it. Now you want us to make a cartoon about the world blowing up? Why don't we just do an animated, musical version of SPRINGTIME FOR HITLER, and be done with it. We could tell the children to stay home."


"Yes Bill, yes," Gary and I chimed in together. "We would love to do it. I've always felt a great connection for Sci-Fi, especially for this project. And this is the opportunity of a lifetime." After our answer, Bill continued with his grand plan. "I want about 65% of the movie to be CGI. I want lots of aliens, space gear, explosions, so on and so forth. And oh yeah, 3D moving sets would be great. It's got to be big, really big." Gary and I nodded our heads in agreement, while panic flowed through our bodies. Bill continued, "Well congratulations guys, you start today. Get hopping, spit-spot, chop-chop." On the flight back to Phoenix, I thought about all the artwork Joe and Moe had produced, drawings, which I had absolutely no emotional connection to. I wondered, "How will I ever find myself in this expensive monstrosity?" Then it hit me. To handle any good story is its characters. Spotlight them, not the space hardware. "Okee-dokee," I thought. "I'll give the trapeze a try, hope I don't break my neck."

One day Janeane Garofalo arrived on the set ravished by hunger. She asked, "Could I have an apple before we begin?" "By all means," I nodded. "Bring in the apple basket" I commanded, clapping my hands together three times in a most kingly fashion. We waited. No basket of apples appeared. The sound crew suddenly went missing. Twenty minutes went by. I was making with the small talk when the phone rang. It was my Assistant Director, Jason. He informed me that there were no apples to be found on the entire Fox lot. "We'll just have to...Wait!" he shouted. "We just located one, it's in the Commissary. We'll be right there." "Fabulous!" I said. "Do hurry." Within minutes, Jason bolted through the door, a bit ruffled, but with the apple in hand. He placed the delicious, red apple in Ms. Garofalo's hand. "Bon apetite," he remarked. She stared at the piece of fruit for a minute then sadly looked in my direction. "Oh Mr. Bluth," she sighed. "Not red. Never red. I only eat green apples."

Stars are busy people. Recording sessions have to be booked months in advance, rarely, and I mean rarely, do their schedules permit getting two actors in the studio at the same time. Matt Damon had never met Ron Perlman, who plays his father, that is until the picture was finally finished as Mr. Perlman was working on another picture in Hidelberg, Germany. Mr. Perlman made a quick dash to the men's room. Standing at the urinal, he glanced out of the corner of his eye, and there, in the next station, was Matt Damon. "Son?" said Ron. "Father" returned Matt. "At last."

The warm smile of Bill Pullman was the first thing that caught my eye. The second, was the oval, seven inch, silver belt buckle he wore low on his hips. "What have we here?" I thought. "A cowboy?" Sure was. A real cowboy from the vast countryside of Montana. I smiled broadly. I grew up with rodeos, chaps, cowboy hats, and horses. There was something about Bill's homespun demeanor, his sauntering walk, his anecdotes, and even his name, that defined him as an Earthchild. A man you need to know, because he'll enlighten you. He's the real thing, well beyond the glamour and glitter of Hollywood stardom. Bill's right out of the Old West. "Ride 'em cowboy!"

- Don Bluth

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