Filmmaker Interview – John Korty


John Korty interview

In the winter of 1988 I had the pleasure of doing a phone interview with San Francisco based filmmaker John Korty. I conducted the interview for The Off-Hollywood Report (then known as the Magazine of the Independent Feature Project). I was pleased to see it published in the March issue of that year and am reprinting the last part of the interview below. Korty was a wonderful person to talk with and our conversation went much longer that either of us probably thought it would. I think the magazine agreed to cover any phone charges so we just burned a lot of cassette audio tape.

T. Campbell: …Jumping ahead a bit. Twice Upon A Time is an animated film you made for the Ladd Company and George Lucas, You used a technique called Lumage, which is the use of cutouts and a method of animating the cutouts. Tell us something about this animation technique and your experience after completing the film.

J. Korty: I developed the Lumage technique over almost 20 years of animating because I couldn‘t stand cell animation and felt there must be a better way. We did Sesame Street spots and I‘d made a short before The Crazy Quilt that was nominated for an Oscar called Breaking the Habit. The making of Twice Upon a Time is a very complex story. It was an independent film to the extent that we raised some money independently to develop it and the money was supposed to go into a screenplay and a sample reel. Originally, it was going to be three or four minutes of animation, As we went along, we felt the sample was more important than a completed screenplay so we changed it to a kind of treatment and a 10 minute reel. lt took one-and-a-half years to do that much. I had known George Lucas for several years and thought “We might as well start here.” and we had a screening with George. He arranged a meeting in L.A. with The Ladd Company. We talked for a while, and within a month or two had a production deal.

T. Campbell: At the time there were other animators, like Ralph Bakshi, who were doing very well. Were you unhappy with the quality of animation you were seeing in general?

J. Korty: I‘m not really a fan of most animation. I don‘t get excited about the rounded forms or by nostalgia animation. I am more interested in modem graphics. Twice Upon a Time doesn‘t look like anybody else‘s animation.
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