Frank Mouris (interviewed June 2005) is probably best known for his remarkable 1973 Oscar winning animated short film, Frank Film, a frame of which is on the right. My daughter and I took the train up the Hudson River to his home in Nassau, New York where he lives with his producer/wife, Caroline, and a kennel full of beautiful wire fox terriers, a couple of whom you hear now and then.
Although this is another interview from our UPA collection, I met Frank back in the 70s, when I had him as a guest on a weekly program I used to do for the Los Angeles Cinématheque, called Filmmaker’s Connection, where we invited guest filmmakers to show their films and talk about them with the audience. I recorded them all, so I should try to find those. There were a number of animator’s among them, a kind of forerunner to this show, I suppose. One I remember vividly was Walter Lantz. A couple of us went over to his historic studio on Seward and Willoughby to pick out some films, and decided on showing his politically incorrect jazz series. But, that’s another subject, which we will pursue, nonetheless.
Anyway, Mouris is not a traditional animator, either hand-drawn or computer generated, but a stop-motion filmmaker renowned for his work with collage. Frank claims that “Frank Film” was the “one personal film that you do to get the artistic inclinations out of your system before going commercial”. Much of Frank’s work is directly interconnected with his wife, Caroline’s, working side by side on every project. In my view, Frank is the dreamer and Caroline is the practical one. Their innovative film work can frequently be seen in mainstream commercials and various short works for groups and companies like Levi’s, PETA, Nickelodeon, Sesame Street, and Cartoon Network. In 1999, Frank and Caroline did a near-reprise of “Frank Film” together, producing “Frankly Caroline”.
Some of their other films include, Coney, Screentest, Tennessee Sampler, Impasse, Making it in L.A., Beginner’s Luck, plus constant freelance work with clients including, Disney Television, 3-2-1 Contact, Nighttime Entertainment, VH-1, In Flight, Nick at Nite, Behind The Scenes, I Am A Promise, Share the Music, Musical Instruments, Pure Nick, Toad The Wet Sprocket, The Film Makers Company, Share The World, HBO Family Cable, and ITVS Kids. But, like so many of these interviews, it’s not so much their work that shines through, but their unique perspective on animation. Every one seems t have a different view of the same animal, and Mouris is no exception, although it may be even more unique because his films are so unique.
This episode is sponsored by The UPA Legacy Project