Friday, November 21, 2008

Freude R.I.P.

I got word from George Griffin that Freude Bartlett passed on. She was a very important person in the animation world of the 1970's. When independent animation was popping up randomly all over the country, Freude put together Serious Business Company in Berkeley to distribute these films. I hope her signifigance will be appreciated.

All this was the decade before vcrs, a period when public libraries were especially well funded. Libraries were buying 16mm prints of odd films like mine for prices of $150 and up, sometimes multiple prints. There were library magazines that reviewed the available short films. Because of library screenings and art museum programs, an audience developed for independent animation, concurrently with numerous people bursting on the scene unaware of one another.

The picture above was taken by her husband Scott Bartlett, whose "Off On" was a ground breaking independent short film. Freude's hair was flaming, flaming red. She had a wonderful voice and laugh. It's just how I remember her looking. I think Freude means joy in German.

Freude encouraged many independent filmmakers, and would try to organize dinners when visitors came to town, some of which I went to. I never felt at ease with Freude, but I admired her. Her hair was a little scary, and I don't think she liked my work as much as some of her other filmmakers. I don't know. You'd think since we both lived in Berkeley we would have gotten to know each other better.

Eventually her company went bankrupt. Libraries were using their funds to buy vhs copies of "Star Wars" instead of 16mm prints of "Fun on Mars." I never saw Freude again, after I left Berkeley.

Another distributor who deserves credit for distribution of these films in the early days is Ron Epple, who passed on quite a few years ago. His company, in Champaign Illinois, was called Picture Start. Without distribution, these 70's animations would never have been seen. Even though it seemed like small revenue at the time, it was a largess compared to internet animation, where no cash changes hands.


Namowal said...

Wow, I've never heard of her before.
I knew it was more difficult and expensive to make animation in the 70s, but I never thought about how tough it would be to get one's work "out there" where others could see it. No You-Tube or blogs or web pages to promote your stuff. The animation world was lucky to have someone like her.

As for libraries buying Star Wars videotapes instead of quirky animation- what where they thinking? Did they really think "Star Wars" or "Jaws" was some rare gem that needed to be achieved? That's like a museum turning down rare Picasso paintings in favor of a faded poster of the Mona Lisa. Or Dogs Playing Pool.

Sally said...

It actually made sense for them to buy "Star Wars", because that's what library customers wanted to check out. It was quite amazing to get a movie to take home from a library.

Also Proposition 13 passed in the late 70's and that really chewed up library budgets in California.