Friday, November 8, 2013

Art DVDs: Fire and Ice / Frazetta: Painting with Fire (Two-Disc Limited Edition)! Interview with Director of "Painting with Fire" Lance Laspina!


Fire and Ice / Frazetta: Painting with Fire (Two-Disc Limited Edition)
images and videos copyright Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Disc One:
The Making of Fire and Ice
Bakshi on Frazetta
Sean Hannon's Diary Notes
Behind-the-Scenes Still Gallery
Theatrical Trailer

Disc Two:
Frazetta: Painting with Fire (93 minute documentary)
Audio Commentary with Director Lance Laspina and Producer Jeremy J. DiFiore

Fire and Ice
One of my favorite special edition DVD sets to  come out is Fire and Ice (Two-Disc Limited Edition) (1983).  As I posted recently the "Fire and Ice" animation is a favorite of mine for many reasons. First I LOVE the brutal fantasy feel of the film.  Second I LOVE the traditional artwork, background and look of the film.  Mainly for the AMAZING artists that have contributed to this CLASSIC animation: James Gurney (background painter), Thomas Kinkade (background painter of light) and Frank Frazetta who's artwork inspired the film!

If you have not seen this 80's CLASSIC piece of animation you must!  Even it if is just to witness the AMAZING piece of artistic history of so many GREAT artists working on one GREAT creation!

Fire and Ice Trailer

However, this GREAT special edition set does not end with a CLASSIC full length animation with "Fire and Ice".  This special edition set also comes with the documentary that EVERY serious fantasy artist MUST HAVE!!

Frazetta: Painting with Fire
Frazetta: Painting with Fire is an AWESOME documentary on the LEGEND Frank Frazetta.  It is a real THRILL to get to hear straight from Frazetta on his life and art.  As well as the insights to Frazetta's work from people like William Stout, Cathy and Arnie Fenner, Ralph Bakshi and on and on.

There are so many GREAT reasons to check out this documentary.  Frazetta's life story is just as powerful and AMAZING as his artwork!  There are so few GREAT documentaries on GREAT artists.  This is why I was THRILLED someone was able to capture Frazetta's life through the words of Frazetta himself!  If you are a Frazetta fan or a fantasy art fan this documentary is a MUST SEE!

Frazetta: Painting with Fire Trailer

Also as a very SPECIAL bonus to this post I was fortunate enough to get a hold of the director of "Frazetta: Painting with Fire", Lance Laspina!  I asked Lance to share some of his AMAZING experiences getting to work with Frank Frazetta on this film and what it was like to get such AMAZING access to his original work!  Be sure to check it out!

Interview with Director of "Painting with Fire" Lance Laspina!

1. What was the experience like getting to spending so much time with Frank Frazetta?

I really treasured every moment, as it's not often one gets to meet and spend time with their childhood idol.  Having grown up being such a huge fan of his art, I often wondered what Frank was like, not just as an artist but as a man, and I was fortunate to be able to find that out in person over the course of making this documentary.  There were so few print interviews with Frank available,  so to me he had such a mysterious aura about him.  Of course I'd seen some photographs of him in his art books, so I knew what he looked like, mostly in his younger days, but I had never heard the tenor of his voice or seen him in action, so I honestly didn't know what to expect.

I did have the pleasure of meeting him briefly when I was about 12 years old.  I grew up in Western PA, on the other side of the state where Frank lived, and so once I got word the Frazetta Museum had opened (I'm talking about the original one that was in downtown E. Stroudsburg, not the current one on the Estate), I made my parents take me out to see it.  Well the day we were there, it was close to closing time and the only person besides us in the building was Ellie, Frank's wife.  Having spent some time showing us around the museum, she could tell what a huge fan I was, and offered to let me meet him if we just stuck around for a bit as Frank would be picking her up.

So soon afterwards in walks Frank and Ellie introduces us to him.   I remember also having some of my artwork with me, and one piece in particular was a copied rendering of a Frazetta pencil sketch, a nude life drawing of Ellie in fact (though at the time I don't think I knew it was her or else I would've died of embarrassment), and Frank was incredibly gracious and encouraging regarding my art.  I also remember him being rather quiet and humble as I lavished praise upon him.

So flash forward another 17 years or so and here I am meeting him again.  Of course I didn't have any expectations he'd remember our first meeting.  It was important for us to meet one another prior to shooting any footage as I wanted to make sure he was comfortable enough being around me so he would open up in front of the camera, and I'm sure it was also important for he and Ellie to find out what kind of guy I was and whether or not they could trust me, as they had been taken advantage of in the past.  My initial trip out lasted a couple of days, and then once we returned to film, we spent another week just "hanging out" without worrying about cameras or microphones or lighting or any of that.  Just getting to know each other and my crew mates as well.  We would spend time in his studio, with him showing us all of his amazing art, and in the evening we would take him to dinner.  That was such a fun week.


2. What was the experience like getting such amazing access behind the scenes and access to seeing his original art?

It was quite extraordinary having such unmitigated access to not only Frank and his daily routine, but as you mention also to his incredible artwork.  At that time the Museum, which was literally a stone's throw from Frank's house, had an astonishing collection of the most famous Frazetta paintings he ever produced, all of the Conans, the Death Dealers, Tarzan covers, you name it.  And what wasn't in the museum, Frank quite literally had stacked up in his studio.  We would be hanging out on his couch in the studio, and he would get on his hands and knees and start to thumb through stacks and stacks of paintings leaning up against the wall, pulling them out one at a time for us to marvel at.  So we all got to hold some of Frank's original oil paintings in our hands and listen to him talk about each one.  That's an experience none of us will ever forget.

3. Was there anything that you learned about Frank Frazetta you didn't know or expect?

There were lots of things I learned, for as I mentioned previously there really hadn't been much written about him outside the realm of art.  However, I must say I was well aware that Frank was quite the athlete in his youth and was really into sports, so he and I bonded in that aspect as I am also very much into athletics and devoutly follow my favorite sports teams.  So we would often get into a sports conversation (uh, debate?) about this and that and he was very passionate about how he felt.  You could see and hear the fire in him when he spoke that I'm sure contributed to him producing such powerful art.  He also told me, to my surprise, that he valued his athletic prowess over his artistic abilities, but once you really got to know Frank, it wasn't such a revelation.  While filming, he became as passionate about getting his athletic legacy correct as he did his contribution to the art world, and of course we devoted an entire section in the documentary to this called "The Sportsman."

Frank also liked to joke around a lot.  He enjoyed being one of the guys by getting in his digs and humorous put downs, but he could take it as well.  Once again this was another way we bonded and built trust.  I strongly believe if I came in there and was completely passive and quite and kissed his ass, "Yes Frank. Whatever you say Frank," I think he would've thought I was a sissy that couldn't be trusted, so I had to fit in as "one of the guys," and believe me, it was a hell of a lot of fun.


4. Were you able to learn any of Frank Frazetta's tips or secrets on how to create GREAT art?

Ha!  I wish it were that easy Eric.  Unfortunately, there are no secrets to creating great art.  You either have it or you don't.  Hard work can make you better but you can't become great through hard work alone.  I remember when I was younger and people would tell me, an aspiring artist, how lucky I was that I could draw, and I honestly resented that as I felt I worked hard at it and thought if anyone worked as hard as I did, they could also become and artist.  While that may be true to some extent, you can only become truly great if you are born with an amazing talent.  Some people may disagree but I strongly believe that to be the case.  The same goes for athletics.  You can be the hardest working athlete on the planet, but if you weren't born with the perfect genetics, you'll only get so far.  That's why some people can be great and hardly have to work at their craft.  It's because they were already born with that talent.

5. Do you have more films planned in the future with other artists?

I'm sorry to say that I do not.  I completed the making of Frazetta - Painting With Fire over 10 years ago (hard to believe that much time has passed), and I wasn't ready to jump into doing another documentary on another artist, though many people wanted me to.  When doing a biography of someone's life, therein lies a tremendous responsibility to get the facts right, and I wasn't ready to take on that responsibility again.


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