Has technology made movies better? We're asking Frank Gladstone
Former DreamWorks head of artistic development will offer his
perspective at the College of Technology Dean’s Lecture on April 13.
His 40 years in the midst of the Hollywood moviemaking machine have given Frank Gladstone a front row seat to technological advancements in filmmaking. While Gladstone appreciates the role technology plays in creating a visual story, he sometimes asks the question: “Has technology made movies better?”
The veteran filmmaker will bring that question and his experiences to Purdue at the College of Technology’s Dean’s Lecture on Wednesday, April 13 at 6 p.m., at Stewart Center, Fowler Hall. The lecture is free and open to the public. Tickets are required and can be picked up at all three Hall of Music box offices. Call the Hall of Music for more information: (765) 494-3933.
Technology has always been a part of art, says Gladstone, who made his mark as an animator, producer, director, and writer at such studios as DreamWorks, Disney Animation, and Warner Brothers. As technologies have changed people have taken them and applied them to their art. Moviemaking is no different, says Gladstone, who was part of what he calls the “second great age of animation” that brought computers and digital effects to the forefront of the production process.
“The biggest mistake with technology is that sometimes people substitute technology for story. That’s never wise,” Gladstone says. “You see it more and more because technology is so astounding. A shallow story or one with no premise or substance is disguised because technology is so good. It’s kind of a sleight of hand. A lot of sequels or franchises run on that premise.
“That’s always been the case with art. There have been bad paintings, books, movies disguised by various means. Using a big movie star, eye candy, making it spectacular. The question is, is technology getting in the way of a good story? Is it helping a good story or disguising a bad one? I’ll show some movies and ask those in the audience what they think. We’ll see if we can come up with any conclusions.”
Today, Gladstone runs his own animation consulting firm, Gladstone Film, where he offers assistance to newer studios who run into artistic issues. It’s an obligation he felt, even while he was working on feature films such as "Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin," "The Lion King," "Pocahantas" and "Mulan."
His other way of giving back is by teaching aspiring animators and filmmakers. He has spoken about animation, animation history and cinematic fundamentals at secondary schools, colleges, studios and professional guilds in America and around the world.
“It’s a responsibility I have to pass things on, but it’s also fun. I like speaking to students. It keeps me honest,” he says.
Gladstone is also an active writer, contributing articles on animation and film theory to both industry and general audience publications. His latest entry will be the chapter on character animation procedures and terminology for the upcoming first edition of the Visual Effects Society handbook.
Additionally, he often consults on motion picture scripts, juries film festivals and grants programs, and serves on several school advisory boards as well as the boards of philanthropic and educational organizations.
As part of the Dean's Lecture, the college is conducting a university-wide Computer Animation Contest. Student submissions will be reviewed by a panel of judges, including Gladstone. The top three will be screened at the lecture. Audience members will have the opportunity to vote on the People’s Choice Award.
Anyone unable to attend the lecture in person can view the event online here.
For more about the Dean’s Lecture and the College of Technology’s other Tech Week activities, visit the 2011 Tech Week Web site.
For more about Frank Gladstone and Gladstone Film at the Gladstone Film Web site.