BREMERTON, Wash. — ClayDream tells the story of Will Vinton, the man who invented the California Raisins and turned Portland into a hub of animation.
“It's somebody who started from nothing, working in his basement, and had all the success and ended up building up this $35 million a year company,” says director Marq Evans, “and really everything was going great and then it all fell apart”.
In the basement of his Bremerton home, Evans is putting the finishing touches on the documentary -- a week before it plays at a virtual version of the Tribeca Film Festival.
“I don't know if it will ever feel done,” he says.
Five years ago, Evans had just completed The Glamour And The Squalor, his award-winning documentary about troubled radio personality Marco Collins. That’s when he read an article about Vinton, another innovator who'd seen dramatic peaks and valleys.
“And I thought wow this feels like a movie,” he says. “ It's got it all.”
Will Vinton made the eight-minute, nearly 12-hundred single shot stop-animation short "Closed Mondays" with college friend Bob Gardiner.
It won an Oscar, which led to more offers, more ambition and a studio that drew in some of the world's best animators.
But even the most talented people can hit a streak of bad luck. When Will Vinton Studios ran millions of dollars in debt, billionaire Nike chairman Phil Knight offered to bail out the studio.
But there was a catch.
“Somebody in the film says Phil Knight versus Will Vinton was like the great white shark versus a colorful guppy,” says Evans.
Vinton would lose the studio that bore his name. The studio, run by Knight's son Travis, is now known as Laika, makers of stop motion films like Coraline, The Box Trolls and Monster House.
ClayDream takes its viewers back to a time when animation offered endless possibilities, all thanks to a mustachioed optimist.
“I just can't wait for people to see it,” Evans say. “I think the film is going to surprise a lot of people.”
You can see ClayDream from the comfort of your home. Just visit the ClayDream page at the Tribeca Film Festival website.
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