I was thinking about the Sneaky Pete story I told last night and wanted to make sure I was telling it right. I knew I had the gist, but today I hunted down my CD copy of the interview and did this transcription:
"I saw an ad in the paper that said ‘Animators wanted.’ ‘Animators wanted’–and that’s all it said. In those days, people just let it all hang out--they didn’t sneak it in or anything. So I called them because I was interested in animation in those days. When I was a kid living with my family, I made a big dinosaur out of clay on our dining room table. My folks were photographers and my dad showed my how I could do a single frame at a time with their camera. It didn’t work very well, but anyway..
That leads me to the day when we were living in Glendora and that happened to be near where the studio was that they were working on Gumby. I didn’t know what Gumby was, but I called them up and said ‘I’d like to be an animator.’ Art Cloakey, who was the father of Gumby, said ‘Oh, you’d like to animate–well, why don’t you come on over’–just like that. It was another world in those days.
So I came over. To make a long story short, I walked in and there was a bunch of nice people in there and he asks ‘Have you ever animated before?’ and I said ‘Oh yeah, I know all about it’ [we both laugh]! Well, I kinda knew about it.
So he said ‘Waddy over here, he’s the foreman, he’ll give you a chance.’ Waddy told me to just walk around the stage there and watch these other guys–there was about six other guys there animating in different stages–and they were all nice. And I walked around and looked at it and they were doing lousy animation.
But I walked around there and came back the next day and they set me up with a little stage to do the animation. And it was wonderful because they had ball-joint armatures which you could control and so forth so I was in heaven again there!
So I started animating and the very first day I did some animation that they used! And from that point on I just got better and better and that was my entrance into stop-motion animation...I was a natural at animating, let’s put it that way. I just had a talent for it.
When you look back on it, it seems amazing to me, too..."
Pretty much as I remembered it. So he did have some experience in stop-motion animation--as a kid--but certainly no professional experience or training. However, he did have BALLS and wasn't above a certain amount of BS. Ya gotta fake it to make it, as they say...
Still, though, it's amazing that the studio head just basically took Pete at his word that he knew to do animation. At least in this telling of the story, there was no checking of Pete's resume, calling past employers to verify anything, background checks, credit checks, etc.
As he said, it was another world back then...