Rock & Rule (Part 1)
Canada Trust Company/Unearthed Films
Emru Townsend: I'm curious about one thing you said before, you said "the rough concept." Originally, what was the rough concept of Drats!? Music, mice or rats, and...?

Clive Smith: It was sort of a post-apocalyptic world where some dreadful disaster has happened. And out of that came a new race of creatures.

Anne Marie Bardwell: Mutants.

Clive Smith: Mutants, which were partly animal, partly human. I think some of the thinking of that was we were convinced that it was harder to animate humans than it was to animate fuzzy little creatures. And in fact, when it was Drats!, they were a lot fuzzier and warmer and friendlier. Rounder.

Robin Budd: Didn't Dan Haskett do some really sort of rubbery designs of rats? Beautiful, beautiful designs, but way different from what it evolved to.

Clive Smith: Right. Absolutely.

Because in the end, everyone looks pretty close to human, and Robin, you had the most human character of them all [Mok].

John Halfpenny: That's because his nose kept getting smaller and smaller. [laughs]

Robin Budd: And his mouth and his hands are growing bigger and bigger. [laughs]

Anne Marie Bardwell: [Watching Mok on the television] I still look at that and just go... fuck!

Robin Budd: There's a lot of lines there! [laughs]

Anne Marie Bardwell: You know what, you had to be young to do that. I think that's one of the biggest things about, like you were saying, you couldn't make that movie now. The pool of talent, the raw talent, and just the fact that you had an entire studio that had none of us ever... right?

Clive Smith: We were all learning.

Anne Marie Bardwell: Yeah! It was like the kindergarten class got to build the school. [laughter]

Clive Smith: It was something between a kindergarten class, and an art school, and a lunatic asylum. [laughter]

Anne Marie Bardwell: That's a phenomenon by itself.

Greg Duffell: Do you think that's more reflecting now, than the stated reality at the time? My impression of the time was that there'd been this period of all these half-hour specials, and Patrick, for instance, would often refer to the animators who were there, like Robin and so on, would compare them to the Nine Old Men [of the Disney studio], and people like Frank [Thomas] and Ollie [Johnston] and Ken Anderson would come up, and there was a sense of confidence. I think the idea that we were a kindergarten class learning is more of a rearview-mirror approach. As a studio, I don't think we looked at it that way. I think there was a feeling of great confidence.

Robin Budd: Oh, absolutely.

Anne Marie Bardwell: No, no. I don't mean that we knew we were that. [laughter] We had no idea. No, we didn't. I agree completely. This is a total hindsight picture, for sure, of not knowing what we were doing.

Do you think if you had been more aware that you didn't know what you were doing, you would have just seized up?

Anne Marie Bardwell: No, because you're young, and you're immortal.

Clive Smith: We did know what we were doing, but we were inventing for ourselves a process—that other people had found, in different situations, [but] for us. It was definitely a process of invention and creation.

Robin Budd: And what an exciting process it was. Because it was an invention as we went along, it was really wonderful as an animator to be able to contribute to a character and to help develop it, as opposed to being dictated to in a rigid way. Obviously there were guidelines and obviously it was very much a team that developed every aspect of it, but on the other hand it was wonderful that we were able to contribute and...

Anne Marie Bardwell: Have some freedom.

Robin Budd: Yeah, freedom.

Larry Jacobs: I think [it was also] the politics of the time, it was the '60s, and the establishment up until that point—

Anne Marie Bardwell: We thought it was the '60s. [laughter]

Larry Jacobs: It was the '80s, but we were all products of the '60s, right? And the establishment, animation-wise, up to that point had been Disney, and it was family entertainment. And here we were, this new group of aging hippies—well, older hippies. We were aging at that point. Nevertheless, we were products of the '60s, and we were anti-establishment, and here was a chance for us to recreate an establishment type of medium. And Rock & Rule, it was so cool, it was going to be an adult piece of animation that the public hadn't seen yet.
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