If you grew up in the 80s or 90s, or are a fan of hand-drawn animation, Chances are Don Bluth is a familiar bow figure to you. The animator and director earned his legendary status in the medium after devoting fifty years of his life. Well, for Traditional animation, he finally shares his story in a pre-ordered autobiography.
Somewhere Out There: My Animated Life promises a unique look at the life of the animation veteran, directly from the man himself. The book is published by Smart Pop. On his personal Twitter account, Along with the cover release, Bluth had it to say.
I am very excited to announce the publication of my autobiography, “Somewhere Out There: My Animated Life”. The pre-order is now available. I think, for anyone who goes into the art of animation, this is a must-read. I hope you enjoy it.
Don Bluth was born in 1937 in El Paso, Texas. As a child, he was fascinated by the Walt Disney movies and aspired to enter the industry. In 1955, that dream came true, when he started as an assistant animator for John Lounsbery for Sleeping Beauty. He continued to work for Disney on projects such as Robin Hood, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger too, en The rescuers. His most notable work for Disney was his credit for directing animation on the 1977 film Piet’s dragon. After working on the 1978 short The Little One, Bluth decided it was time to dump her and move on. Bluth explains his feelings about the issue in an interview with the New York Times in 1979.
“The creative work atmosphere at Disney’s has changed subtly but a lot in recent years. There were too many committee decisions. Everything was done by vote. In addition, people can not be left in a room to teach themselves how to become animators. There is a sincere desire at Disney to continue the art of animation, but the studio did not teach. On ‘The Small One’, I desperately tried to get people to the quality we needed. Several others felt like me, and we decided not to continue to sour the life for the studio. ”
Along with Gary Goldman, John Pomeroy and nine other former Disney animators, Don Bluth Productions was founded. They tested the waters with the short film Banjo the woodpecker, the film was created in Bluth’s garage and took four years to make. The short film’s production gave the team the necessary experience to produce their own film independently, which helped them produce their first feature film, The secret of NIMH. While the film was widely praised by critics and became a cult classic by home media, the film was considered a commercial failure and forced Bluth Productions to file for bankruptcy.
However, this would not be the end of Bluth’s career, as another name came into his life. Steven Spielberg with the animator to create an american tail. At the time of its release, the film would become the highest-grossing non-Disney animated film of all time, with $ 45 million in the United States and $ 84 million worldwide. The success of an american tail would lead Bluth and Spielberg to produce The Land Before Time, which was an even greater success theatrically and on home video. Bluth would eventually divorce Spielberg to make his next film, All dogs go to heaven, which at the time received mixed reviews from critics, but was highly successful on home video.
Bluth would continue to release films through the 90s, but with less than great success. Rock-a-Doodle, Duimelina, A troll in Central Park and The pebble and the penguin, none of these films has received as much acclaim from audiences or critics as its previous titles. But Bluth’s hard work eventually earned him another gold star with 1997s Anastasia, produced at Fox Animation Studios. But it was a short-lived success; Bluth’s next movie Titan AE was another critical and box office failure. The 2000 sci-fi would be his last theatrical-released film, at least for now.
Despite all the ups and downs, Don Bluth still kicks. In 2015, he turned to crowdfunding (both in Kickstarter and in IndieGoGo) to fund a fully animated adaptation of his popular arcade game Dragon’s Lair. As of now, the feature is still in production. Netflix is also working on a Dragon’s Lair live-action adaptation of their own with Bluth credited as a producer and starring Ryan Reynolds.
In 2020, Bluth announced the launch of a new animation studio called Don Bluth Studios. The aim of the studio is to bring a new renaissance of hand-drawn animation to a world dominated by computer-generated images. The first project is currently Bluth’s fables,’n anthology of short stories written, narrated and drawn by Don Bluth himself.
Ever since he set foot in the industry, Don Bluth’s career has been full of ups and downs. While his relationship with Disney was rocky, and his studio did not survive them, he surely gave them a run for their money. Even at his age, his heart is still about bringing out the very best in animation, and his works will continue to inspire fans and creativity well into the future. Like his movies, this book promises to continue that inspiration as well. If you’re a fan of animation, or an aspiring animator yourself, Somewhere Out There: My Animated Life can be a perfect addition to your personal library.
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