Holy smokes! Will Vinton, aka The Father of Claymation and an iconic Portland figure complete with handlebar mustache, is gearing up to produce four new animated feature films!
According to The Portland Tribune, Vinton Entertainment and Portland-based studio Gnosis Moving Pictures are partnering to work on new animation works, including “The Quest,” “Jack Hightower” (a Dark Horse graphic novel adaptation), “Moby & Dick” (inspired by Melville’s classic tome) and “Nicholas” (adapted from a story about St. Nick by L. Frank Baum).
Vinton has had a lengthy and stellar career in animation, winning an Academy Award early on for Closed Mondays in 1974. He went on to produce many more animated shorts, features, commercials and television shows under the banner, Will Vinton Studios. This studio transitioned into Laika Animation [laika.com] in the 2000s after Vinton was pushed out by investors (including Nike’s Phil Knight, whose son Travis is now CEO of Laika), and Vinton founded a new studio, Free Will Entertainment.
Vinton established Vinton Entertainment with his business partner, John Ripper, and is slated to dive headlong back into feature film animation.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Vinton in 2009 for my dissertation research on Portland’s film community, and we talked about why he kept his bustling production studio in Portland despite the pull of business headquartered in Los Angeles. He said:
“I’ve thought a lot about what kind of art and what kind of company we’ve created. Would it have been as successful or more successful somewhere else? And I have to say I think it had the unique ability to be successful and autonomous and independent by virtue of it being in Portland. Portland has for many years had great artists. It draws people with an artistic sensibility. Because of a lot of little things going on. In terms of theater. In terms of literature…Part of it is climate, I think. It’s just a place that feels like you’re not really lost in it like a really huge city. But it still has cultural things and so on. So I think it appeals to artists.”
The Portland animation scene thrives precisely because its animators (and filmmakers and TV producers and online producers and so on) believe that it can. It’s incredibly creative, it’s successful and it’s local.
Here are some clips of Will Vinton’s work: