Got several notes this week about Bill Joyce and his band of merry men and women earning an Oscar, which he received right there on national television a week ago tonight, his smile a cartoon-like super-sized.
One of my favorites, from the appropriately named “Rose,” read: “Hot diggity dawg for a nice Shreveport boy!”
Shreveport’s Joyce and Moonbot Studios co-founder Brandon Oldenburg co-produced “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore,” winner of the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. This spawned several beautiful things:
1. I grew up in a town where people stopped what they were doing and pointed toward the sky whenever a plane few over, way up there. So I am still just enough of a hick to get a funny little tingle when I see someone I actually know on a television set. The Oscar statue weighs 8-and-a-half pounds, or about a half-pound for every year, give or take, I’ve known Elizabeth and Bill Joyce. Not well, but well enough that I could not stop laughing when they called Bill’s and Brandon’s names and they walked right up there, so animated themselves with this sheer unrehearsed joy that you felt as if someone had just drawn THEM. Brandon even said as much to the newspaper in Sarasota, Fla., where he went to Ringling College of Art and Design, about what it’s like when they call your name on Oscar Night: “It’s like they dropped an anvil on your head. Stars spin around, birds are chirping and you have a goofy grin that won’t go away.” Classic!;
2. Most Oscar winners thank “the little people who made this possible.” When Joyce says it, he means it literally. This work is for children young and old. He and his friends capture the good, the hope, in reality, the parts that can easily get shut out when the rent’s due and the baby’s sick. Many franchises – “Mission: Impossible,” “Die Hard” -- take fantasy and make it seem like reality; in Joyce’s books and art and storytelling, he takes reality and expresses it in fantasy, in a story you’ve lived or felt;
3. The props for home. Check out these quotes from backstage at the Oscars:
Oldenburg: “The whole point (of the film) was to just try to get the world to recognize what we're capable of in Shreveport, Louisiana, and that there's a level of quality they can come to expect …”
Joyce: “…from the swampy lands of Louisiana, we have crawled forth with this, and it's lovely to be recognized.”
Joyce could have left for Hollywood long ago. He didn’t. He stayed home and helped bring home what part of Hollywood we needed;
4. Also backstage, the pair thanked their wives and co-workers and teachers and families, but also “The Wizard of Oz” and “King Kong” and other wonderful “make-believe” movies. You know, real ones.