Saturday, April 13, 2013

Bill Plympton

Bill Plympton came to Full Sail Live to talk to students about his experiences as an independent animation film maker. He was an illustrator in NYC in the late 70s and early 80s. He drew a face of an average looking business man on the 18 by 24 inch pad on stage. That was the character of his first animated film called "Your Face." When he went to a screening for that film he was amazed when the whole audience started laughing. That moment changed his life. He drew satirical and funny illustrations but he never felt the audiences immediate reaction. "Your Face" was nominated for an Oscar and suddenly Plympton was on the map.

Bill stopped illustrating and was committed to animation full time.  When he started out there wasn't much animation going on at the big studios. As a small boy his dream was to be a Disney Animator. In the 80's Disney started rebuilding its animation department. They called Bill saying the would like to talk to him. A Disney lawyer showed up at his studio. Bill was offered one million dollars if he would work for Disney Feature Animation. Bill was ecstatic, thin was a dream come true. He began negotiating for the job. As he put it Disney isn't about good cop, bad cop when it comes to negotiating. It is more like, bad cop and anti Christ. Bill asked if he could work on his little films on the weekends. He was told, "Sure, but Disney will own it." What about script ideas? "Disney owns it." What if I have a dream?" "Disney owns it." He realized he would have no control over what he would work on. What if he ended up having to work on TV animation like Duck Tales? In the end he turned down the offer to continue producing independent films.

Bill showed several of his short films along with work from a feature film that is in the pipe line. He showed "Waiting for Her Sailor" which was just 30 seconds and was hilarious. He is now working on a film that is about a whale that falls in love with a human guy. The guy likes fashion models, so the whale becomes a model. He is working on a feature film called "Cheatin" which is about a very attractive couple that meet and fall in love. Since they are so attractive others get jealous and try to break them up. They become paranoid and try to kill each other.

Bill drew constantly during his presentation. He said he sometimes wakes up at night so excited about a project that he has to do a few more drawings before he can get back to sleep. When working on a film, he can produce up to 100 drawings a day. Some consider him a masochist, he considers himself a hedonist since he loves his work.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

No comments: