Hauling Like A Brooligan

Stephen Gallagher

Richard Williams

You could do worse than hop over to Blowing my Thought Wad for this piece inspired by a recent Foyles event featuring ‘veteran animator’, Canadian-born Richard Williams. Williams is an animator of eclectic achievements, the most well-known of which I imagine to be Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

I suppose Williams is to drawn animation what Ray Harryhausen is to stop-motion – the practitioner that all others in the field look up to and learn from.

It’s a fascinating post, and includes a video clip in which Williams breaks down the interacting elements that underlie the motion of a walking horse. Experience the sheer pleasure of having someone with a clear insight lead you to an understanding of something you didn’t know (which used to be a major component of all TV in the UK, I’m reminded with a jolt).

When I first went to London in the mid-70s, looking to break into the biz and filling the long hours by walking the streets and seeing the sights, one of the first places I sought out was Richard Williams’ HQ in the corner of Soho Square. All I did was stand outside and look at the brass plate and feel a connection.

I didn’t quite realise it then, but I think I was responding to what I knew of Williams’ professional attitude. He was about the work, the work, the work. Understanding it, knowing how things fit together, mastering it without shortcuts or compromise. I’ve heard it best expressed in Trevor Griffiths’ brilliant play, Comedians.

I can only paraphrase the line. Veteran comedian Eddie Waters tells his night-school class of aspiring performers that there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be rich and famous, but you have to want to be good first. Because you can never get to be good after.


2 responses to “Richard Williams”

  1. Stephen,

    I’m glad you liked it. The absolute brilliance of Dick’s work, and his sheer craftsmanship reminded me how much I loved animation. Unfortunately perfectionism was his ultimate downfall, which was just heartbreaking. I think the Harryhausen comparison is just right, although I doubt Dick would agree because he was so in awe of Ken Harris and Milt Kahl.

    Because I worked for him post-Rabbit, the studio had re-located to Camden so I never went to the Soho address. Now it’s where The Farm is based, a post-production house set up by some ex-Molinare staff. Since you didn’t go inside, you might be interested in this.