Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mad City Chickens Screens in Lansing Tomorrow

The official Michigan premiere of Mad City Chickens takes place tomorrow, August 26, in the state capital of Lansing. Public Screening sponsored by the The Allen Neighborhood Center and The Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council - Meeting at 7:00pm, movie at 8:00pm, The Jason Homestead, 1406 Prospect Street in Lansing.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Perseverance: The Lesson of the City Chicken

Back in December of 2007, when we were in the thick of post production and racing to meet the film festival deadline on our documentary Mad City Chickens, we were contacted by Doreen Proctor. She was asking for help as she was being told by her County Supervisor to get rid of her small flock of chickens. As we have for people facing similar situations in other communities, we wrote a letter of support but never heard what happened--until now. Here's Doreen's recent email...

Hi Tashai and Robert,

This has taken me a long time to get back to you with the good news.  However, it took almost two years to accomplish my goal.  The goal was to be able to keep my chickens.

You may not even remember me, but a neighbor complained that I was raising chickens.( Filed a complaint anonymously, but I figured it out pretty fast)

I was told by the County Permit and Resource Department that because the zoning code said nothing about having chickens, it meant I couldn't , even tho' they were all over my unincorporated county neighborhood. After many letters to the Editor, phone calls, visits to the County planner, code enforcer and zoning departments, and calls to the County Supervisors, I got a call from the two local newspapers.  They sent out a reporter to collect information on my situation.  also a photographer came out and took front page color photos of me and my chickens.

One of the editors took my case under his wing and got on the phone and got the same answers I got.  Then he talked to the County Supervisor for our area.  He wrote a fantastic editorial about the little community of El Verano that I live in and in which everyone that lives anywhere near here knows that there are many feral chickens roaming the neighborhoods. This area has a rural atmosphere, there are no sidewalks, people have chickens and assume it is okay in the county outside of city limits.  (Ironically you could and can, have chickens in the City of Sonoma)

Several well known people from Sonoma, came out with the Code Enforcement Officer to see my chickens and discuss the issue.  The "enforcer" was adamant.  No chickens. I got a notice giving me 30 days to get rid of them.

Then came a phone call from the Supervisor's office.  She had convinced the Board to make an amendment to allow 6 hens on an R1 zoned lot, low density one unit.  My lot is 7500 Sq. feet.  I just about fainted, I was so happy, and notified the papers.  More interviews, more pictures, in color "Chickens can stay".  I owe this to the Editor of the Index Tribune, because he pursued this cause and now everyone in the county can have the 6 hens, if they are on an R1 zoned lot.

So now my neighbors that have chickens also can breathe a sigh of relief.  I did have to find homes for my roosters, which were very nice guys, real pets and the young ones are real clowns.  I enjoy my chickens so much and am so grateful.

If someone is in my situation, they should not give up, they should, as you mentioned, find chicken friendly people in local government, and in newspapers to help you fight your fight.  It works.

Thanks for your letter of December 6, 2007.  It was about a year ago that the amendment took effect.

Doreen Proctor
Sonoma (El Verano), California

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Art of Lotte Reiniger

Lotte Reiniger was the master of the silhouette animated film. Here's an interesting vintage video on her technique. Also a clip from her masterpiece, The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926).

Video posted by phernandokhatz.

Video posted by moviemartyr.

For more info on Lotte and her work, see our earlier post.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Grim Natwick Betty Boop Festival

Betty Boop Festival Poster

We attended the first annual Grim Natwick/Betty Boop Festival yesterday in Wisconsin Rapids. Natwick, the main animator of both the original Fleischer Studios' Betty Boop character and then of Disney's Snow White, was born and raised in this small central Wisconsin municipality. In honor of their most famous resident as well as Betty's 80th birthday (August 9th), the entire town threw a party. Here's what we saw...

A youthful Grim Natwick.

Natwick info pamphlets; Ms. Boop cardboard standups.

Natwick character design from the very first BB cartoon Dizzy Dishes (1930). Patterned after singer Helen Kane.

At the heart of the fest was the Grim Natwick artwork collection on loan from the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archives. Also "on loan" from the Archives was its director Stephan Worth who gave talks and tours throughout the weekend.

 Stephan Worth leading a discussion on the Natwick animation collection.

The story of Bimbo the dog and his new girl friend as shared by Stephan Worth... 

In 1930, Bimbo the dog was the star character at Fleischer Studios. Director Dave Fleischer asked Grim to design a girlfriend for Bimbo in the upcoming short Barnacle Bill. Natwick went to work and created the design sheet (below). When Fleischer returned, he saw that Grim had simply "retooled" the Helen Kane character from the previous short Dizzy Dishes. The director argued, 'Bimbo is a dog. Don't you think he ought to have a dog girlfriend?"

Natwick quickly drew a dog body on the sheet with the Helen Kane head and asked, "Would you rather have this," he circled the dog, "or this," pointing to the human form, "as Bimbo's girlfriend?" Fleischer gave in and thus was born a character soon to become a bigger star than Bimbo would ever be.

Character design from BB cartoon Barnacle Bill (1930)

"A dog or this?"

Yes, it was the Betty Boop Festival, but Natwick drawings were on display representing his entire career including the Snow White animation rough below...

  Natwick Snow White animation rough, close-ups.

The festival also included screenings of Betty Boop shorts, other films by Grim Natwick, animated treasures from the ASIFA Hollywood archives, and special showings of Nina Paley's Betty Boop-ish Sita Sings the Blues. We had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Nina whose animation art was on display throughout the day.

Nina Paley's Sita Sings the Blues artwork.