On Friday, March 9, 2012, at the Regent Showcase Theater in Hollywood, California, the Los Angeles Animation Festival presented a screening of the 1999 animated film, The Iron Giant, followed by a Q&A with director Brad Bird, actor Eli Marienthal (all grown up), and members of the crew. The screening was presented with an original 35mm print of the film, in a theater that was packed with fans. Those who know of the history of The Iron Giant remember that, despite high critical praise, the film did poorly in theaters, only to find a much larger audience on home video and DVD. Now the film has a strong cult following, which was certainly apparent due to the enthusiasm seen at this crowded charity screening of the film. Continue on to find a full recording of the Q&A that followed the screening of the film.
LAAF Event Description:
The all-time classic THE IRON GIANT comes to the big screen for one very big, very special celebration. All ticket sales go to charity. Cast & crew reunion – featuring director/writer Brad Bird and a panel hosted by well-known Animation Director Tom Sito including, Brad Booker – animator, Steve Markowski – storyboard, Mark Whiting – production designer, Eddie Rosas – animator, Alan Bodner – art director, and Tad Gielow – computer engineer. With actors Christopher McDonald (voice of Kent Mansley) and Eli Marienthal (voice of Hogarth Hughes).
For those not as familiar, The Iron Giant is a film about a boy in 1957, during the period of the space race between the U.S. and Russia, who discovers a giant robot in the woods. The boy, Hogarth Hughes, befriends the robot, who is apparently capable of learning and feeling emotion. Due to the arrival of a paranoid government agent, Hogarth must do his best to hide the giant robot, in order to stop the army from trying to destroy it.
There are many things that are special about the film, but what makes it stand out, I believe, is the amount of sentiment that comes from the relationship that develops between Hogarth and the giant robot. For literally being from opposite worlds, seeing how this plays out is especially fascinating and affecting as the story goes on. The Iron Giant is also notable for being a traditionally hand-drawn animated film that incorporates a lot of 3D animation as well. Set in the 1950s, it has a wonderful retro vibe, but looks great regardless (and unfortunately, I did not learn whether or not the film would be coming to Blu-ray anytime soon).
Below I have embedded a recording of the full Q&A that took place. It was quite entertaining and insightful to listen to, especially for anyone that wanted to know more about some what took place in regards to the production of the film. I have tried to adjust the sound a bit to make it clear enough, though some of the panel’s microphones were lower than the others. Regardless, please enjoy.
Here is a link, if the embed doesn’t work in your browser: Q&A
I would like to also add how pleasant and humble everyone who participated in the panel was. The cast and crew, particularly Brad Bird, were all willing to autograph pictures and memorabilia, along with pose for photos for the many fans in attendance. Eli Marienthal has certainly grown up as well. 13 years after the film’s initial release, he is now 26-years old and studying to get his Ph.D in Geography at Berkley. Of course, Brad Bird has also managed to find continued success with The Incredibles, Ratatouille, and his recent live-action film debut of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. What seemed most apparent is how happy they all were to talk about The Iron Giant, which is a film that they seem to clearly all love and appreciate. And why shouldn’t they? The Iron Giant is a great film that was able to continue on, even after mixed success theatrically.
The Los Angeles Animation Festival was founded in 2007 by John Andrews and Miles Flanagan. Frustrated by the lack of a cohesive animation festival in Los Angeles, the founders sought to create a festival experience that allowed unknown animators to meet and mingle with industry professionals. LAAF is now the largest International Animation Festival in Los Angeles and offers a unique social and business experience to those attending, celebrating both mainstream and independent animation with special screenings, events, panels, awards and contests. The Festival will take place from March 7-11, 2012, at the Regent Showcase Theater. Learn more about it here: http://blog.laafest.com/