David Hand's, GB Animation, Historic Films
David Hand's, GB Animation, Historic Films
This project is to fully restore 10 short MUSICAL PAINTBOX animated films and to update and enhance 9 restored ANIMALAND animated films
This project is to fully restore 10 short MUSICAL PAINTBOX animated films and to update and enhance 9 restored ANIMALAND animated films Read more
Our two animated film series have been designated as NATIONAL TREASURES of the United Kingdom. They are the work of Animation Pioneer, David Dodd Hand, at his studio, Gaumont British Animation, a studio in the Rank Organisation.
David Hand is best known for his tenure at the Disney Studios, 1930 - 1944, and his work as Supervising Director of SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS and BAMBI.
David knew from the age of 4 that he wanted to draw. Growing up, he took every opportunity to visit and learn from the Animators in the New York studios. He left school after the 9th grade as he knew what he wanted to do. He found is way into the Chicago Institute of Art, then later, to the J. R. Bray and the Max Fleischer Studios, working on "Out of the Inkwell", as animator and director. Moving to California in 1929, he was hired by Walt Disney in 1930, as an animator.
Within two years, he was directing "Silly Symphony" films and a year later was told that he was to direct, "Snow White". Disney realized his potential in management and production and made him Studio Production Supervisor, responsible only to himself, a position he held until he left the studio in 1944.
Upon leaving Disney, he thought to create an animation studio in England and communicated with J. Arthur Rank, the major film producer in the UK. The idea was intriguing to Rank and somehow they found a way to transport David to England on a freighter, dodging U-Boats all the way. Rank put him up at the Savoy Hotel in London for 6 months while he created a Business Plan. The plan was acceptable to Rank BOD, so David was now an Animation Studio! "Wow, now what?" The Rank Accounting Department had been housed outside of London in the town of Cookham, at a very large estate, Moor Hall. As the war was winding down, Rank needed to get Accounting back into London. Moor Hall was an ideal space for the newly formed Gaumont British Animation (GBA).
After several years building the studio and its equipment, ANIMALAND and MUSICAL PAINTBOX went into production and were completed in 1948-1949.
The Studio however, was short lived, as Rank found that he could not compete with the powerhouse film industry in the United States, and he closed down his several studios, including GBA, in 1950.
David returned to the United States and tried to gain ownership of the rights to his films for more than 30 years. He was unsuccessful until a new Rank, Chairman of the Board, chose to change the company approach and traded the film rights in exchange for the stock in GBA, which David still held. During that time, Rank had never put the films into commercial distribution and so they had never been seen, except for a few copies which somehow had reach the United States.
David passed on in 1986, a few months after we gained control of the films. I, his son, David Hale Hand, now had control of the films through our Corporation, David Hand Productions (DHP), which Dad had created for that purpose.
We were determined to put the films into distribution, especially as Dad was not there to see his dream realized. We asked the British Film Institute (BFI), who now held the negatives, for those negatives, but they declined as they had been deemed to be "National Treasurers" of the UK They offered to make prints which we could purchase, but that never happened.
Frustrated, I decided to reach out to the Chairman of the BOD of the BFI, whom I learned was Princess Anne. My Mother had told me that if you wanted to get anything done, start at the top and work your way down. Dad had been honored by Queen Elizabeth (soon to become Queen Mother) for the work that he and GBA had done to enhance the economy of England after WWII. I had a photograph of that meeting, so I reached out to the Queen for help. Two weeks later I received a positive response by letter, beginning "At the Queen's bidding....." and things started to happen at the BFI.
Unfortunately, BFI support came at a very high price and again we were delayed in getting into distribution. In 1996, an Italian Distributor signed for the Licensing Rights and would also pay for the initial restoration of ANIMALAND. That opened the door to distribution contracts in 21 countries during the next few years.
MUSICAL PAINTBOX, has never been restored. We may have the only existing prints. Generally, prints over 50 years old begin to deteriorate badly. Though our prints are over 67 years old, they are in reasonably good shape and good candidates for restoration. It is imperative NOW to restore, before we lose these treasures.
The ANIMALAND films are much in tone with what David Hand knew best, which came from his long association with the Disney Studios. 70 minutes, 35 seconds.
The MUSICAL PAINTBOX, on the other hand, were meant to have what David Hand noted, "British Flavor." As a new studio for England following the war, with newly trained animators and staff, the films were less complex in composition and are stop action which morph into motion, a somewhat unique technique at the time. Their stories are based on UK locations such as London, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and they tell of events and stories of folklore, which the British knew so well. They might be considered to be "Artistic Animation". 83 minutes, 12 seconds
The ANIMALAND and MUSICAL PAINTBOX films are under copyright to David Hand Productions through 2027.
The creative and pioneering efforts of David Dodd Hand, have never been properly recognized. Distribution of his film properties will help viewers to understand the considerable talent, technical skills and creativity he contributed to his industry. These films help to establish his legacy.
David Hand played a significant part in the production of early films at the Disney studios, many of which won Academy Awards. He personally was honored with the "Lifetime Achievement, Winsor McCay Annie"; the prestigious "Legend of Disney" Award; and he was very proud of his audience with Queen Elizabeth.
One of the "Nine Old Men" of Disney once told me, "Walt Disney was, no question, the Studio creative genius. David Hand was the pragmatic, creative genius".
We look forward to your participation in this worth while cause.
Risks and challenges
The restoration process is pretty straight forward with highly professional companies ready for the challenge. The process takes a bit of time just because so many films are in need to be restored. The technical laboratories are very busy. There are a few frames that must be duplicated or even re-constituted by a qualified animator. There are many animators who are so qualified and eager to do the work.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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