Wednesday, February 03, 2010

What Was The Most Depressing 80s Studio? 1 Filmation


I worked at a lot of the TV studios in the 80s and I have a tough time deciding who had the worst system, practices and style. Or non-style.

Filmation cartoons were the first cartoons to ever make me feel ill. When I first saw one on TV in the mid 60s I heaved up a big old fried bologna and bacon sandwich. It was shocking. I was a complete cartoon nerd and just took it for granted that cartoons were supposed to be silly, creative and fun - and nice to look at. I couldn't figure out why anyone would make cartoons that didn't look or sound like cartoons - and I still can't. Filmation cartoons actually seemed to go out of their way to be bland and not fun, which, as a kid just seemed unbelievable to me.

Ironically, my first job at an "entertainment studio" came a decade and a half later at the dreaded Filmation. They hadn't changed their style or approach in all that time. They believed in in boredom. They went on throughout their 30 or so year life span barely changing their monotonous bland ways.

Working there, I finally saw why and how. You literally were not allowed to draw anything unless you were in the model department. In layout, animation and assistant animation you had to trace the model sheets. Or xerox them off the model sheets. Each character had maybe 3 pre-designed poses and if the show went on for 10 years, you'd have 130 half hours of the same 3 drawings of each character.

The style of Filmation character designs were the blandest of all time. They were neither cartoony nor "realistic". They were merely - vacant. Expressionless. Without statement or style.

There actually was a short span of time where a few people tried to do something a little different, but it didn't work because the whole system was set up to fail.

Remind me to talk about what Eddie coined as "The Golden Age Of Filmation in a post sometime."

These are shows I actually worked on so I can tell you first hand that they were absolutely no fun and not the least bit creative. You just had to memorize a stack of rules and do everything exactly the same way every time.

Of course there are those who will say it's all about the writing. Mainly it's the writers who say that.

Next...Hanna Barbera