“As long as I can remember, I wanted to draw – and I wanted to draw for Disney,” storyboard artist Dean Kelly 98 IL told the Boston Globe in a June interview. Now that the Disney-Pixar summer hit Monsters University – his first full-length feature –has been getting rave reviews, he couldn’t be happier. “Monsters University aces a two-part test,” notes Time Out New York – “first, appealing to kids with gorgeous, hyper-realistic animation that teases out every pink hair on a beastly art student; then luring in parents with several knowing jokes about strumming your guitar on the quad or playing beer pong.”
In the Globe interview, Kelly explains how the team collaborated to create the 102-minute prequel to the 2001 blockbuster Monsters, Inc. “Drawing is just 50 percent of it. Story artists need good ideas and problem-solving skills. The director tells us what the characters need to do, and then we brainstorm and pitch ideas. We lay the foundation. The animators don’t come in until later.”
After majoring in Illustration, Kelly got his start in the animation business at Nickelodeon, working on various animated series. “What I got at RISD was a well-rounded education that helped me become better prepared,” he notes.
“Dean is a phenomenal artist,” Monsters U director Dan Scanlon says in the Globe story. “I relied on him to bring passion and excitement to key moments. He was a big part of the team.”
Promised Land, the new film about fracking directed by Gus Van Sant 75 FAV, opened at the end of December and initially got more attention for addressing such a hot-potato issue than for how the film is made.
But this week’s New Yorker calls the film “heartfelt and clear-minded,” crediting Gus for being “good at the everyday stuff” and for not resorting to “magic” or “glowing light” to make his point.
The New York Times noted that “Mr. Van Sant’s style of directing – watchful and low-key – puts character ahead of story, and the script invites the actors [including its star and co-writer Matt Damon] to be warm, funny and prickly.”
In this interview in Vanity Fair, Gus talks about working with Damon 15 years after first directing him in Goodwill Hunting. And when asked his “secret” to filming the successful open-mic scene of John Krasinski singing a Bruce Springsteen cover, he said, essentially: “Make it real.”
Between the release of Ted in July and the media frenzy leading up to it, the upcoming revival of Cosmos and anchoring this season’s premier of Saturday Night Live, the multitalented Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane 95 FAV seems essentially unstoppable. Next up for the master voice actor, singer and comedian: hosting the Oscars on February 24.
photo by Sandor Bodo for The Providence Journal
An article in yesterday’s Providence Journal looks at RISD’s Film/Animation/Video department, mostly through the lens of grads who are making it in Hollywood – people like Academy Award-winning cinematographer Robert Richardson 79 FAV, Family Guy guy Seth MacFarlane 95 FAV, The Legend of Korra co-creator Michael DiMartino 96 FAV and a handful of others. Michael told the ProJo that at RISD he “really learned how to become a filmmaker and think about all parts of the process – storytelling, animation, sound, etc…. This gave me a big advantage once I started working in the animation industry.”
Dana Schneider 82 SC says it was “like winning the lottery” when she was invited to make the hottest piece of jewelry to emerge this spring: the mockingjay pin Jennifer Lawrence wears as the character Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. It’s already spawning a rash of knockoffs on Ebay and Amazon.
After working in steel, cast bronze and aluminum as a Sculpture major at RISD, Dana taught herself to make jewelry. And since 1999 she has been creating iconic stuff for movies ranging from X-men to Green Hornet, Green Lantern, Tron, The Last Airbender and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Rooney Mara loved the work and has taken to wearing the necklace below, which is one of Dana’s own designs).
Dana now spends about 70% of her time making jewelry for the film and music industry, pieces like these rings for (from L–R below) Snoop Dogg, Cher, Marilyn Manson, Dr. Doom (in Fantastic Four) and the band Slipknot.
"It’s fun to customize something to a character and a scene,” she says. “But I have to maintain my own integrity and vision,” too – which is why she insists on making her own art. “If I go too long without making my own work, I get antsy. I have to do it." Read more in our risd.edu story From The Matrix to the Mockingjay.
The two comedians worked with producer Norman Lear in the late ’70s to create the popular TV show Fernwood 2night, where Mull hammed it up as talk show host Barth Gimble, and later were reunited on Roseanne, where he had a steady gig as her gay boss and Willard played his partner.
Mull has had a great run in Hollywood – with major roles in movies like Mrs. Doubtfire, Mr. Mom and Clue and on shows ranging from Sabrina to Two and a Half Men – but has opted to focus on his painting as much as possible in recent years and is represented by several major galleries.
Mull’s recent painting War and Peace (2010, oil on linen, 30x42”)