Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My Dream Trip To DreamWorks: Part 3
(An Unorthodox Attempt At Expressing My Mental State While Meeting Chris Sanders)

Missed Parts 1 and 2? Here's a rambling recap:

I've been doing this unofficial Croods blog since last February. Why? Cuz I love Chris Sanders' first two films and am eagerly awaiting his third. Sometime last September, two DreamWorks employees -- Kristen and Daniel -- happened upon my blog, and we began emailing one another. The interesting and informative emails were theirs. The unanswerable questions and hyperbolic huzzahs were all mine. Fast-forward to November. That's when Kristen emailed me, asking if I'd like to come visit the studio. I did! So I hopped on a plane in New England (where I live), got off a plane in CA (where my sister, Caroline, lives), and drove to DreamWorks.

Finally meeting Kristen and Daniel face to face was wonderful, except I inexplicably became so nervous that I pretty much forgot how to speak. They kindly ignored this, taking me and Caroline to lunch, then for a walk around the grounds, and then inside for a tour of the top-secret, no-cameras-or-recording-devices-allowed animation studio. At some point during all of this I remembered how to talk, and gradually began to relax and be myself.

An hour into the tour, Daniel took off, leaving Kristen to show us the "secret room."  (If you want to know more about that, read Part 2. This recap is already two paragraphs too long!) Anyway, the "secret room" was nice and chill, and by the time Daniel called Kristen and asked us to meet him upstairs, I was just about as cool as a cucumber in an Alaskan Frigidaire. So Kristen, Caroline and I hopped on the elevator, and I'm like one level of zen away from being declared the next Buddha when the doors slide open, and who's standing there beside Daniel but CHRIS SANDERS!

Before we continue, a quick key for reading Part 3:
1. Everything in bold print was actually said. I think. I might've misremembered some of it. In fact, I know I did.
2. Everything that's in the regular, anorexic print is what was happening in my head.
3. All this stuff in italics? That's the me writing this right now, the me with per-spec-tive.

(Don't worry, I promise to return to 'normal' writing in Part 4.)

Daniel: Ju-osh, this is Chris Sanders. Chris, this is Ju-osh.

Inner-me 1: Chris Sanders!

Inner-me 2: Aaaaaah!

Inner-me 1: That's Chris Sanders!

Inner-me 2: Aaaaaah!

Inner-me 1: Stop screaming! We need to say something!

Inner-me 2: Aaaaaah!

Inner-me 1: Okay, we say nothing. But we should at least try and smile. Remember, no one likes the 'angry eyes.'

Inner-me 2: Aaaaaah!

Inner-me 1: Chris Sanders is saying something to us! What is Chris Sanders saying to us?!

Inner-me 2: Aaaaaah!

Inner-me 1: Now Chris Sanders is walking! Should we follow Chris Sanders? I'm gonna follow Chris Sanders!

Inner-me 2: Aaaaaah!

Inner-me 1: We're walking with Chris Sanders! And talking with Chris Sanders! Wait, what are we saying to Chris Sanders? I hope it's something good!

Inner-me 2: Aaaaaah!

Inner-me 1: STOP SHOUTING AT ME, ME! Seriously, we need to hear this. To experience this. To be fully present and completely in the moment for this. After all, this is MOMENTOUS. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to talk to one of our artistic heroes, to tell him how much his films have meant to us, how much we adore his drawing style, and then casually, SUBTLY, drop in a request for a sketch of Stitch. I'm trusting you to help me do this in such a way that makes us look neither desperate nor greedy nor creepily nervous.

Inner-me 2: Aaa--

Inner-me 1: But first you need to STOP SCREAMING those long strings of As!

Inner-me 2 (panting heavily, swallowing hard): Okay. I got this. I can do this.

Inner-me 1: I know you can. I believe in you. You just have to focus. And breathe. Just focus and breathe and remember to think before you--

Me: Do you ever miss hand drawn animation?

Inner-me 1: Did you REALLY just say that?! While walking through the hallowed halls of the CG-centric DreamWorks?! To a guy who is PROUDLY making CG films and doing a DAMNED FINE job of it?!

Inner-me 2: What? I was curious.

Chris Sanders: Sometimes, but there's a lot of cool stuff that we can do with computers that we couldn't do with hand-drawn. Like zooming in and zooming out. You can zoom in really close now, really smoothly. We couldn't do that before.

Inner-me 1: Reason #626 to love Chris Sanders: Dude not only draws like a dream, he's extremely forgiving of our conversational faux pas.

Chris Sanders (cont.): I guess if there's one thing that I do miss about [hand-drawn animation], it's the emotion we were able to achieve. You look at a film like A Charlie Brown Christmas, and it's the most simply animated film, but it's SO FULL of emotion. It gets you every time you watch it! That's the thing that's so special about seeing someone's drawings up there -- you can FEEL the emotion.

Inner-me 1 and Inner-me 2 (simultaneously): DO YOU SEE WHY WE LOVE THIS GUY?!

Me (getting giddy, stepping on Sanders' last few words): Exactly! It's like with Beauty and the Beast. You watch the director's commentary, and they're constantly apologizing for some little quirk in the animation. But I'm like, 'What are you talking about! This is a perfect f**king film! It makes you laugh. It makes you cry. You made a masterpiece!' And the animation is f**king BEAUTIFUL!

Inner-me 2: Yikes. Where are all these swear-words coming from?

Inner-me 1: Don't look at me!

This is when Chris Sanders motioned to a group of seven or eight people that were walking behind us. How did they get there? When did they get there? Were they there the whole time and I was just so excited to meet Chris Sanders that I somehow hadn't noticed? I DIDN'T KNOW. 

Caroline would later tell me that they had all been waiting there when we got off of the elevator. She said that they wanted to see my reaction when I finally got to meet Chris Sanders. If my battling inner-mes, poorly chosen conversation starters and frighteningly focused tunnel vision are any indication, my reaction was undoubtedly as uncalm and uncool as a reaction can get.

Chris Sanders (pointing to a tall, bearded bloke in the back and whispering): That's James Baxter. Do you know who he is?

Inner-me 1: Listen to this guy! Do we know who James Baxter is? OF COURSE we know who James Baxter is!

Inner-me 2: James Baxter is the guy who animated Belle! And Belle is the animated alter-ego of our bookish beloved, Mishka.

Inner-me 1: Oh, no.

Inner-me 2: Oh, no, what?

Inner-me 1: I hope Chris Sanders didn't think that we were saying that the animation in Beauty and the Beast was flawed. That's one of our favorite films of all time. If we and Mishka had to pick one film that was our combined favorite film of all time, Beauty and the Beast would be that film. And James Baxter's amazing animation in that film is a huge part of the reason why.

Inner-me 2: You're right! We should really say something to clarify how much we love James Baxter. Something poignant. Something profound.

Me: Yep.

At this point, Kirk De Micco steps out in front of us. (He was back there, too? Sorry, Kirk!) He smiles at me (a very warm smile!), and opens the door to the room we've all stopped in front of.

Kirk De Micco: Here we are.

Inner-me 1: Wait! I have a still have a ton of questions for Chris Sanders!

Inner-me 2: Me too!. Oh, no. What were they?

Inner-me 1: Did we tell him how much we loved Lilo & Stitch?

Inner-me 2: YOU were supposed to do that!

Inner-me 1: Well, YOU were supposed to bring up the sketch request!

Inner-me 2: There's still time. But first we ought to say something about Lilo & Stitch.

Chris Sanders: Great. So we wanted to show you guys a few clips from the film. Sorta give you an idea of what's in store. How does that sound?

Inner-me 1: That sounds...that sounds AMAZING!

Inner-me 2: Aaaaaah!

Me: Yep.

Inner-me 1: Wait, weren't we supposed to be saying something to Chris Sanders?

Inner-me 2: Aaaaaah!

Inner-me 1: You're right! Aaaaaah!

Inner-me 1 & Inner-me 2 (simultaneously): Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

In The Next (normally written) Installment:
More Chris Sanders! More Kirk De Micco! 3 Film Clips! 1 Group Photo!

See you Thursday!

This post originally appeared on December 14, 2012

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