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Toaster of the town

‘Brave Little’ film project was a labor of love for animators here and abroad. Special screening is in Kenneth Village.

September 22, 2007|By Joyce Rudolph

In the kitchen, too many cooks can sometimes spoil the recipe. But when it came to the creative minds working on the animated film “The Brave Little Toaster,” it was the more the merrier, Director Jerry Rees said.

The independent film was made by former Disney employees in 1986, and it was released on the Disney Channel and later on video in 1987.

It is the final movie to be presented Friday at the Kenneth Village September Film Festival.

Film creators Jerry and Rebecca Rees, of Glendale, will attend and answer questions about the film. Jerry Rees was the director and co-writer on the screenplay based on the book by Thomas M. Disch. Rebecca Rees was the lead animator.

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The story is about a group of dated kitchen appliances that are left behind at the family’s summer home. Led by the Toaster, they set out to find their owner.

A group of 12 animators worked on the film under producer Tom Wilhite, co-founder and president of Hyperion Pictures, and then it was taken to Taiwan and served as a training film for 150 animation employees of Cuckoo’s Nest Studios, Jerry Rees said.

“Even though it was a low-budget film at the time, lots of high-quality people were working together on it,” he said.

“There was a free environment to express emotions, and no one came through to edit it.”

While in Taiwan, Rebecca Rees taught classes showing the basics of how to draw a character with perspective and solidity.

Her experience gained at Disney Feature Animation, in Burbank, made her the best person for the job, Jerry Rees said.

Though she preferred to stay focused on creating the animation, once she started working with the Chinese artists, she really enjoyed it, Rebecca Rees said.

“You get to know them individually,” she said.

“They were wonderful. They responded to my teaching so well; they wanted to learn and wanted to do a good movie.”

Jerry Rees encouraged everyone to come up with ideas for the film, and everyone embraced it, he said.

When choosing voice actors, they recruited improvisation actors from The Groundlings Theatre in Los Angeles.

“We looked for people who would buy into the film emotionally,” he said.

“We thought this group would make it real, and that really worked. They came in and understood how to be comic, so it would be believable.”

Deanna Oliver was the voice of the Toaster. She became so much a part of the project that one day she stayed on to watch the other actors, he said.

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