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Doing It For The Art / Animated Films

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  • Just about any film made by animator Ralph Bakshi. He made his films very personal and gritty to contrast to Disney's obsessiveness with slickness and escapist entertainment and to combat tired, dumb cliches and perceptions of what cartoons are in general. He believes animation is a tool that can handle any kind of story, idea, technique or genre, and stresses the importance of content in films, and doesn't remotely care if his animation "works" or not, as long as he tries or has something new to say with the medium. He also adamantly stresses that polish and perfectionism only robs a film of raw energy and vitality, seeing it as a crutch to hide weak, stale ideas (he sees this as a flaw of Disney films and their followers, which he thinks are so overworked, over refined until they're perfect, that he finds them impersonal and boring). He discarded pencil tests and retakes not only for money reasons, but because he trusted the veteran animators to know he expected creativity and professionalism in their animation rather than perfection. And one time, when one artist came up to him pointing out a minor continuity mistake between two layout drawings (specifically, a key switching hands between the drawings), Ralph proceeded to chew him out in front of the whole studio, basically telling him he was wasting his time on irrelevant details, instead of what's really important to the film.
    • While there have been some projects he's done just to keep money flowing, those were just so he would be able to make the projects he really wanted to do, rather than just make a quick buck for its own sake.
    • The DVD commentary of his features, Wizards, mentioned that 75% of the entire movie was animated by veteran Tom and Jerry animator, Irv Spence, and his work was the only reason the film was able to be completed in the first place.
  • John Lasseter, former head of Pixar, said this, relating to this idea:
    "Yes, we worry about what the critics say. Yes, we worry about what the opening box office is going to be. But really, the whole point of why we do what we do is to entertain our audiences. The greatest joy I get as a filmmaker is to slip into an audience for one of our movies anonymously and watch people watch our film. Because people are 100 percent honest when they're watching a movie. And to see the joy on people's faces, to see people really get into our films... to me is the greatest reward I could possibly get."
  • In a related vein, many animation buffs feel that the decisions made by John Lasseter and Ed Catmull once they took over Disney Animation fall under this trope. Originally Disney CEO Bob Iger considered shutting down Disney Animation after buying Pixar, thinking they would just be their new animation powerhouse. However, Lasseter and Catmull scoffed at the idea because they valued the legacy of Walt Disney far too much for it to go to waste. They also killed the direct-to-video "cheapquels", despite their immense financial success, resurrected hand-drawn animation with The Princess and the Frog, and noticeably improved the quality of the studio's offerings across the board.
  • Walt Disney himself as quoted on the main page. Despite relinquishing himself from the animation process early on in his career, he helped push the technology and art of animation to new levels, such as making the first synchronized sound cartoon and first Technicolor cartoon. His debut feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was considering extremely risky at the time for being the first ever animated feature film in the United States (though not the first animated feature film in the world— that title goes to Quirino Cristiani's 1917 work El Apóstol); people thought it would be a huge failure and that animation couldn't be long enough for a feature-length film. Snow White became a huge box office success at the time, which gave Walt enough money and success to produce Pinocchio, Fantasia and Bambi, all three considered classics that still hold up today for the intense amount of detail in the animation, high artistic merits (especially Fantasia) and the impressive special effects for the time. However, those films did not make enough money to keep the Disney Company financially afloat, so they had to make wartime cartoons for the United States in World War II, as well as Dumbo, a much safer film. Walt never made another movie as ambitious as Fantasia again (though Sleeping Beauty was close). If Fantasia had been an economic success, who knows what else Walt would have done.
  • Believe it or not, Felix the Cat: The Movie was an example of this. Say whatever you want about the quality of the movie, but it really was a labor of love by Don Oriolo. The Felix the Cat series was all but dead by the time it was released (to where it only had one license to its name), and his dad, Joe Oriolo (who was the show-runner of the iconic 1960s Felix series) was too ill to make a new Felix movie, so Don, who had previously planned to just work in the music business instead of taking a career in drawing, took it on himself to get a Felix the Cat movie made just to carry on Joe Oriolo's legacy (and also the legacy of Felix's creator, Otto Messmer) and revitalize interest in the character. Even in spite of its helter-skelter quality and box office failure, it at least succeeded in its goal of getting people interested in the Felix franchise again.
  • 9, both the short film and the long film. The short film's CG looks rather rough, but it's still clear that Shane Acker put a great deal into it. The feature film's CGi is equal to, if not better than, that of WALL•E. Everything has detail. Everything looks convincingly real, especially the monsters. However, many film critics accused Acker of doing it too much for the art and not enough for the story, though Acker has stated multiple times that the film has a very big emphasis on "showing, not telling". He and others who worked on the film also note in the DVD Commentary that they didn't care if anyone else didn't like it; they were making it for themselves and that was that. Whether or not this worked for the film is up to the viewer.
  • Don Bluth was always all about doing it for the art. He probably wasn't expecting to make much off of Banjo the Woodpile Cat when he began the side project from his garage while still working for Disney and barely had the budget to cover its production, and his mission while making The Secret of NIMH was to bring the quality animation from the golden age back to the cinema. He succeeded... for a while at least.
  • The Thief and the Cobbler: Dear Lord. Say what you will about how bitter the production ended, but one doesn't spend 28 years trying to get a movie made unless he and his crew are absolutely sure it'll be worth it. He turned down letting Walt Disney Feature Animation producing it because he did not want his vision to be compromised.
    • The Recobbled Cut, made by a fan with no motivation besides the love of Williams' work, fits this too. It's a close approximation of what the original film would have been like. It uses the original audio, rediscovered footage, unfinished animatics, and even rough sketches to flesh out the runtime.
  • The 2006 independent animated feature Romeo & Juliet: Sealed with a Kiss. Ex-Disney animator Phil Nibbelink, disillusioned by the "big industry merry-go-round", decided to spend 4 1/2 years of his life to make this film, drawing all 112,000 frames of animation by himself, by a Wacom Tablet onto flash. The voice acting was all handled in a recording studio he built in his own basement. He also deliberately made the film a G-rated kids flick to contrast to the lack of such animated films coming out at the time. This may have ironically been the film's undoing, since Nibbelink was so insistent on doing the film himself that there was no one around to assist with the story, resulting in a very messy and saccharine plot and characters and a poor critical reception.
  • Jorge Gutierrez spent over 14 years trying to get The Book of Life off the ground. In addition, he also wrote the film's art book and animated all of the 2-D sequences by himself.
  • "Sanrio Animation" (aka "Sanrio Film") was Sanrio's short-lived animation studio that was not only dedicated to making film and short adaptations, but also made some animated films (and occasionally live-action) usually referred as "Art Films" in order to be taken more seriously by the general public. Outside of cameo appearances from some popular Sanrio characters (such as The Fantastic Adventures of Unico and A Journey Through Fairy Land), Sanrio Animation explicitly avoided focusing on Sanrio characters in order to be taken more seriously by other animation studios at the time. While the studio was active between 1977 till 1985, it's fondly remembered in Japan for pushing the limits of children's films, decent animation, and memorable musical scores. Their film adaptation of Takashi Yanase's Chirin no Suzu and both film adaptations of Osamu Tezuka's Unico series (The Fantastic Adventures of Unico and Unico in the Island of Magic) are their most beloved works.

Alternative Title(s): Animated Film