Beloved Animator Richard Williams Passes at Age 86

Beloved animator Richard Williams passed away on Friday evening at age 86 in his home in Bristol. Williams is best known for being the animation director on the 1988 classic Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and creating characters such as Roger and Jessica Rabbit.

Williams, who won three Oscars and three BAFTAS animated the title sequences for the 1970s hits The Return of the Pink Panther and Pink Panther Strikes Again and also worked on Casino Royale. In animation circles, he is also revered for his beautiful, unfinished 1993 feature The Thief and the Cobbler.

He told the BBC that Snow White had made a tremendous impression of him when he saw the movie at age five. “I always wanted, when I was a kid, to get to Disney. I was a clever little fellow so I took my drawings and I eventually got in,” Williams told the BBC in 2008.“They did a story on me, and I was in there for two days, which you can imagine what it was like for a kid.”

In 1958, his first film, The Little Island received a BAFTA. He won his first Oscar in 1971 for his animated adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Among his other credits are The Sailor and the Devil (1967), Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure (1977) Ziggy’s Gift (1982), Circus Drawings (2010) and Prologue (2015).

During his career, Williams also wrote the hugely popular how-to book The Animator’s Survival Kit. Although he had cancer, he was animating and writing until the day he died according to his daughter Natasha Sutton Williams.

His friend animator and author John Canemaker wrote, “Dick shared with the world his profound love and knowledge of hand-drawn animation and his admiration for those who influenced him (Milt Kahl, Frank Thomas, Art Babbitt, Ken Harris et al). He did so through the example of his films — ALL of them — and by his teachings in the great Survival Kit book and videos that he and his wife, Imogen Sutton, produced, which profoundly influenced modern animation.”

Here’s a 2018 interview with Williams conducted at Annecy:

Richard Williams

Richard Williams

Richard Williams and Roger Rabbit on the cover of Animation Magazine Vol 2 Issue 1

Richard Williams and Roger Rabbit on the cover of Animation Magazine Vol 2 Issue 1

The Cobbler and the Thief

The Cobbler and the Thief

Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Animation Magazine

Southeastern Guide Dogs Short ‘Pip’ Passes 1.2M Views

An animated short starring a plucky little pup and sharing an important message about the necessity of therapy animals is winning hearts around the world. Produced by Studio Kimchi in Barcelona for Southeastern Guide Dogs, Pip has tallied up more than 1.2 million views and over 62,000 comments on YouTube since launching October 24.

The CG-animated short centers on an undersized puppy with a big dream: To become a seeing eye dog. Just like the real superhero dogs that are bred, born, raised and trained to transform lives, Pip saves the day, every day, for people with vision loss and veterans with disabilities.

A real-life “Pip” puppy born on the Southeastern Guide Dogs campus in September has started her journey toward become a transformative influence in someone’s life. She is currently in “puppy kindergarten” at the Palmetto campus, and in two years will be paired with a handler.

You can watch the short and contribute to Southeastern Guide Dog’s “PipStarter Campaign to support Pip and other heroic pups in training through this nonprofit organization at or watch on YouTube.

Pip is also being entered into numerous film festivals for 2019. The film was made possible through a generous donation from Gary and Melody Johnson of Tampa, FL.



Animation Magazine

Amendment X Passes, Reclassifying Industrial Hemp in Colorado

Amendment X, a ballot measure that takes industrial hemp out of the Colorado Constitution, passed by a narrow margin on Tuesday, November 6. The proposal needed 55 percent approval from voters to succeed, and it currently sits at slightly over 60 percent, with more than 90 percent of the state’s votes counted.

Colorado was the only state in the country to have industrial hemp defined in its constitution, but a large portion of the hemp industry believed that definition was going to prove more of a hindrance than a help. The Colorado  Constitution currently defines hemp as a marijuana plant containing no more than 0.3 percent THC; anything over that threshold is considered marijuana by the State of Colorado.

The federal government’s current definition of industrial hemp also carries the 0.3 percent limit, so states allowing hemp farming all use the same number. But as Congress continues to negotiate details of the upcoming Farm Bill, proponents are hopeful that the federal bill will include language that not only legalizes hemp nationwide, but also raises the THC maximum to 1 percent. If the feds do explicitly legalize industrial hemp at 1 percent THC, without Amendment X, proponents warned, Colorado would’ve been stuck by itself at 0.3 percent.

With the passage of Amendment X, defining industrial hemp will be up to the Colorado Legislature, which is likely to adopt the federal definition.

But as the election neared, opposition to the amendment sprang up, with a sizable portion of farmers, breeders and other industry members warning against leaving the definition of industrial hemp to either state legislators or the feds.

Marijuana and hemp lobbyist Cindy Sovine says that those fears were misguided; she believes a small but vocal faction of breeders worried about losing their investments were at the heart of the opposition. “There has been so much opposition that’s been kicked up from people who’ve been developing certified hemp seeds. If that status quo were to change, those seeds would be that much less valuable,” she explains. “But there wasn’t really any campaigning. If Monsanto or some giant agriculture businesses were behind this, wouldn’t you see more advertisements?”

Sovine, who represents several large clients in the hemp and hemp-research industries, is hopeful that the defeat of Texas congressman Pete Sessions will make it easier for the Farm Bill to advance in 2019, and perhaps even push through a chance in the THC threshold. As chairman of the House Rules Committee, Sessions blocked the advance of over 36 marijuana-related federal amendments, including those that would’ve changed hemp policy.

“This will likely help push the Farm Bill into 2019,” Sovine says. “Getting rid of [Sessions] just makes me so much happier that we were able to pass Amendment X.”

The Colorado Legislature could create its own statutory definition of industrial hemp before the Farm Bill passes, one that could conceivably include any THC threshold — but Sovine doesn’t see that happening. “It wouldn’t make sense to antagonize the federal government like that,” she says.

Amendment X was put on the ballot by Colorado lawmakers; only five voted against adding it. Because of the 2016 passage of Amendment 71 (the controversial “Raise the Bar”), any constitutional amendment in Colorado must receive at least 55 percent of the popular vote. Amendment X got off to a hot start last night, never dipping under the 60 percent approval rating. As of this morning, only thirteen of Colorado’s 64 counties had a majority of “no” votes.

Still, not everyone in the hemp and marijuana industries were pleased. Rob Corry, co-author of Amendment 64 and a prominent marijuana attorney representing clients who work with hemp, penned an op-ed against Amendment X in October, taking issue with removing the plant’s constitutional protection.

“It appears congratulations are in order to the state legislators who created Amendment X to hand over control of Colorado’s cannabis industry to the Trump Administration,” Corry says. “I hope that the Trump Justice Department will continue to adhere to the president’s specific promise to Senator Cory Gardner of absolutely no federal interference or prosecution of Colorado’s industry.”

And if things don’t work out for Colorado’s hemp industry as Amendment X supporters envision? “If the Trump Justice Department violates the president’s promise, then the politicians who sponsored X will be held personally accountable,” Corry concludes.

Toke of the Town

Why this Michigander is hoping Prop. 1 passes

Having worked in states across the country to pass humane, sensible marijuana laws, it’s exciting that in just two weeks voters in my home state, Michigan, will have a chance to legalize marijuana!

While polls are encouraging, the opposition is ramping up its misleading attacks, and we can’t take anything for granted.

Will you please make a donation to the Michigan campaign today?

Growing up in Michigan, I saw firsthand how marijuana prohibition failed my home state. When I was in high school, teenagers had easy — and dangerous — access to marijuana. While buying marijuana from an open-air drug market, someone I knew had a gun pulled on him. It’s heartbreaking to think of kids growing up on that street.

During college, two friends’ dreams of teaching and practicing law were derailed due to cannabis convictions.

Now, when I go back home, I experience pothole-plagued roads and read about shockingly high rates of unsolved crimes, while police waste time on marijuana.

At long last, we have a chance to end Michigan’s wasteful, cruel policy of marijuana prohibition. Proposition 1 will move marijuana sales off of the streets and into regulated stores, while creating good jobs and generating hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue. Cannabis consumers will have a safe, tested product, and adults won’t be criminalized for using a substance that is safer than alcohol.

Michigan can set an example. So far, only East and West Coast states have legalized marijuana. Let’s bring sensible marijuana policy to the Midwest.

So please, chip in today.

Together, we’ve got this!

The post Why this Michigander is hoping Prop. 1 passes appeared first on MPP Blog.

MPP Blog

Daily News Bytes: New ‘Venom’ Spot Has Teeth, ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ Returns, ‘Incredibles 2’ Passes 1 Billion, & More

’Incredibles 2’ Passes $ 1 Billion Worldwide

Its official, the Pixar super family’s heroic return to theaters in Brad Bird’s sequel has hit the big one-bee, with a domestic cume of $ 574 million — making it the highest-grossing animated film and ninth highest-grossing film in general at the US box office — and $ 430.9 million internationally.

The Very (Very) Unusual Path Behind the Animated Justice League’s Debut
Kendall presents a fascinating dive into toon superhero history for

‘Grave of the Fireflies’ Returns to Theaters in Studio Ghibli Fest

Marking its 20th anniversary, the heartwrenching, gorgeous and historic film by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Isao Takahata will be presented on the big screen by GKIDS and Fathom Events on Sunday, August 12 (matinee, English dub); Mon., Aug. 13 (subtitled) and Wed., Aug. 15 (dub). Tickets are available now. [Trailer.]

50 Animation Instructors Trained Under Youth Employment Project
The Jamaican government’s YEDAI project and its “Train the Trainers” initiative put the selected secondary, tertiary and vocational educators through an extensive skills development program as part of the country’s plans to take a slice of the $ 220 billion animation industry pie.

China Licensing Awards Announces Winners
Animation properties represented include Pink Panther, Daremon, Thomas & Friends, Peppa Pig and PAW Patrol.

WATCH: ‘Venom’ – Official Trailer 2
Tom Hardy gets used to his ravenous body-guest with a biting sense of dark humor in this new spot. One of Marvel’s most complicated and viciously entertaining characters comes to the big screen through Sony Pictures on October 5. The film also stars Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze and Reid Scott.

Incredibles 2

Incredibles 2

Grave of the Fireflies

Grave of the Fireflies

Animation Magazine

Louisiana Legislature passes medical marijuana reform this session

This session, the Louisiana Legislature passed two bills to expand the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. HB 579 and HB 627 add a variety of new conditions including autism, PTSD, and intractable pain. These bills are now on Gov. John Bel Edwards’ desk. If you have a second, call the governor and politely ask him to sign HB 579 and HB 627. His constituent services number is (225) 342-0991.

This is a great step towards Louisiana having a functional medical marijuana program. Next session, we are hopeful the legislature will allow the vaporization of medical marijuana so that patients can finally have real access to the medicine they need.

Many thanks go out to the activists that showed up to the statehouse and contacted their lawmakers in support of these reforms!

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MPP Blog

MMJ for Autism Bill Passes Legislature, Moves to Governor

Autism spectrum disorder could be added to Colorado’s list of conditions treatable with medical marijuana if Governor John Hickenlooper approves a bill that passed the General Assembly on May 4. HB 1263, introduced by Representative Edie Hooton, went through the legislature with relative ease after it was introduced in March, but not without changes.

As originally drafted by Hooton, the bill was designed to add acute pain to the state’s list of medical marijuana conditions in hopes of combating opioid addiction. Before its introduction, however, she was approached by mothers and advocates of children suffering from ASD. Persuaded by their stories and studies taking place in Israel and Chile on marijuana benefits for ASD, Hooton added the condition to her bill…and it soon proved the most winning component.

Early on, House committee members told Hooton they wouldn’t vote for the bill if acute pain stayed part of the proposal. Hooton complied with their request and removed that provision. After that, the bill moved through the legislature relatively uncontested, passing its final Senate and House readings 32-3 and 53-11, respectively. But since Hickenlooper’s office hasn’t taken an official stance on the measure, advocates aren’t calling it a victory just yet.

“The fight isn’t over. Now we’re headed to the governor’s desk. Governor John W. Hickenlooper has shown great compassion to our children and the special needs community this session by signing some amazing legislation,” Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism’s Michelle Walker declared on social media after the final House reading. “I know that he is committed to helping our kids, and I wholeheartedly believe he will continue to do everything he can to help them.”

Walker, who shared her story with Westword shortly after the bill was introduced in March, testified, along with dozens of mothers with children suffering from ASD, at the Capitol about the benefits of whole-plant cannabis oil, telling lawmakers how it helped their children curb their aggressive behavior and cognitive disabilities brought on by ASD.

The bill met with early opposition from the Colorado Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Society, Colorado Psychiatric Society, Children’s Hospital Colorado and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment chief medical officer Dr. Larry Wolk. Most of their objections were tied to lack of clinical research on the subject, but Wolk also objected to using the Colorado Legislature to circumvent the CDPHE petitioning process already in place to add medical marijuana conditions.

The CDPHE hasn’t added a medical marijuana condition to the list since its creation in 2002, however, and legislators stopped waiting on that process last year, when a House bill passed that added post-traumatic stress disorder to conditions eligible for medical marijuana. Hickenlooper signed that bill into law.

Toke of the Town

Maine Legislature Passes Commercial Marijuana Regulations

This week, the Maine House and Senate overwhelmingly passed LD 1719, which would set up Maine’s adult-use marijuana market. MPP was neutral on the bill, as it removed social club licensing from the initiative voters passed in 2016. LD 1719 also reduced the number of plants adults can cultivate at home from six to three flowering plants. That said, it’s been 18 months since Maine voters passed Question 1, and it is time that adults had a legal place to purchase marijuana.

Given the veto-proof margins that LD 1719 passed by, we are uncertain if Gov. LePage will veto the bill. If he does, many lawmakers will have to change their votes to sustain his veto. We will keep you posted on what happens next.

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MPP Blog

Autism for MMJ Bill Passes Committee, Acute Pain Doesn’t

Advocates pushing to include autism spectrum disorder in Colorado’s list of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana took a small but victorious step forward last night, April 5. But those who supported adding acute pain to the list weren’t as successful.

After more than five hours of public testimony and deliberation, a House committee voted in favor of a bill that would add ASD to the state’s list of conditions treatable by medical marijuana. Introduced by Representative Edie Hooton, HB 1263 will now go in front of the entire House for consideration. Hooton was undoubtedly pleased for the families of autistic children who’d approached her in hopes of including ASD in her initial proposal, but the lawmaker couldn’t help but feel conflicted at the end of the day.

Hooton had originally written the bill to address Colorado’s opioid epidemic, hoping that qualifying acute pain (pain that lasts anywhere from ninety days to six months) for medical marijuana would give doctors an alternative to opioid pain medication when treating patients recovering from surgeries and other procedures. “The majority of the testimony here today was for autism, but the original inspiration I had was to give physicians an alternative,” Hooton said during the House Health, Insurance, & Environment Committee hearing.

Unfortunately for those hoping to see acute pain added to the list, a narrow majority of Hooton’s colleagues weren’t comfortable with that proposal and said they wouldn’t vote for the bill unless an amendment passed removing acute pain but keeping ASD. Faced with the choice of picking one or none, Hooton relented. With only ASD remaining on the bill, it passed 12-1.

“Medical marijuana is a viable option for these children,” Representative Jovan Melton, a co-sponsor of the bill, said during the hearing. “That’s really what we’re trying to get — is creating additional options in a state where we’re lucky enough to have medical marijuana at our disposal.”

The autism portion of the bill passed despite opposition from child psychiatrists with the Colorado Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Society, Colorado Psychiatric Society and Children’s Hospital Colorado, as well as Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment chief medical officer Dr. Larry Wolk. Most of their objections were tied to the lack of clinical research around the subject. Wolk also said that using the state legislature to make autism treatable with cannabis circumvented the CDPHE petitioning process already in place to add medical marijuana conditions.

“Given what we do know about marijuana, it could actually be detrimental” because of its interactions with other pharmaceuticals that ASD patients are already taking, Wolk told lawmakers during the hearing. “There are no published randomized clinical trials or observational studies on pot and autism.”

However, Hooton quickly pointed out that the CDPHE hasn’t added a single condition to the medical marijuana list since it was created in 2002, with the only addition (post-traumatic stress disorder) included because of a legislative effort that bypassed the CDPHE in 2017. She also cited studies on the subject done in other countries, such as Israel and Chile.

House committee members seemed swayed by the testimony from nearly twenty families and advocates who testified in favor of the ASD portion of the bill. Mothers of autistic children, such as Michelle Walker, Jackie Bess and a handful of others, told how whole-plant cannabis oil helped their children swiftly curb their aggressive behavior and cognitive disabilities. Walker, a communications director for Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism and the mother of a ten-year-old boy with ASD, had shared her family’s story with Westword earlier. While her son, Vincent, has access to medical marijuana because he also suffers from epilepsy, around 70 percent of people with ASD do not, which prohibits them from accessing medical marijuana.

“Vincent has access, but there are so many families that do not,” Walker told the committee. “There are families trapped in their homes. … Their kids are hurting themselves, and they’re hurting us.”

Bess, a member of developmental disability nonprofit ARC of Aurora, has two sons with autism. Jackson, her ten-year-old, suffers from muscle spasms, a condition that qualifies for medical marijuana. Gavin, a six-year-old with ASD, doesn’t. “All of the prescribed medications caused side effects — nightmares, hallucinations, panic attacks, aggressive behaviors,” Bess said during the hearing. “This decision was not made lightly. We tried CBD first, [and] it made [Jackson’s] aggression worse. Since starting medical marijuana, it’s been rare for us to get a call” from school about her son.

If passed, the bill would allow adults as well as children under eighteen with ASD to be eligible for medical marijuana. To be approved, the child must have a recommendation from two different physicians, and one of them must have an established relationship with the child.

Colorado wouldn’t be the first state to add ASD to its list of conditions treatable with medical marijuana. In California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota and Pennsylvania, patients with ASD are eligible for medical marijuana programs, while doctors in Oregon, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., can recommend medical marijuana for patients with ASD.

Toke of the Town

Vermont Passes Legalization Through Traditional Legislation

The Vermont Senate voted to approve legislation Wednesday that would legalize the possession and cultivation of a limited amount of recreational marijuana, once signed by Governor Phil Scott. A significant moment for the Green Mountain State as well as American history, Vermont has become the first state to legalize marijuana through the state’s legislative process. […]

UK Bill Legalizing Medical Cannabis Passes First Reading Unopposed

A bill that would legalize medical marijuana in the United Kingdom passed its first reading in Parliament today completely unopposed. The legislation was introduced by MP Paul Flynn this afternoon amongst a flurry of anticipation. Not coincidentally, on the same day the bill was introduced, a planned protest was executed outside of the Parliament building […]

National Conference of State Legislatures Passes Resolution Urging De-Scheduling of Marijuana

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) approved a resolution Monday urging that the Controlled Substances Act should be amended to remove marijuana from scheduling in order to give federally approved banks the ability to work with marijuana businesses. This would also allow states to determine their own marijuana policies without the threat of federal interference. For a resolution to pass, it must be supported by a majority of participating legislators in each of 75% of the states represented at the conference’s general business meeting.

Due to the Schedule I status of marijuana under federal law, federally insured banks risk penalties if they offer financial services to marijuana-related businesses. For that reason, many of these businesses are forced to operate on a cash-only basis, making them a target for criminals. While limited guidance has been issued, which intended to encourage financial institutions to serve marijuana businesses, access to banking remains a problem.

The full resolution can be found here.

MPP’s Karen O’Keefe said the following statement in a press release:

“State legislators and the vast majority of voters agree that marijuana policy should be left to the states,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, which tracks marijuana policy in all 50 states and lobbies in state legislatures throughout the country.

“Legitimate, taxpaying marijuana businesses should not have to face the difficulties of operating on a cash-only basis. Allowing banks to offer them financial services will be good for the industry and benefit public safety,” O’Keefe continues. “Even more so, states should not have to worry about the federal government interfering with their marijuana policy choices.”

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