In 1974 Scott Smith was a young photographer living in San Diego, when he was introduced by a mutual friend to Tom Waits. Both Waits and Smith had a passion for music and they soon became friends.
Smith’s compelling black and white photographs of Waits document his start as a folk singer and songwriter, and then through a period of time during which Waits’ musical persona emerged.
Starting this Friday, these rare photographs will be exhibited for the very first time at Mr Musichead Gallery in Los Angeles. The show will be open May 29-June 15, 2015, with a reception for the artist at the exhibit opening on Friday, May 29, 7-10 pm.
Smith photographed Waits relaxing with friends, in performance, at his apartment, cruising in his car, playing pool, talking with locals at a lunch counter, and more, while at the same time photographing the Southern Californian environment they both grew up in. Smith’s images give us an intimate portrait of Tom Waits in the process of defining himself as a musical artist and the environment he lived in.
Scott Smith’s limited edition photographs are available through Govinda Gallery.
The campaign to publish Tom Waits For No One: The Illustrated Scrapbook has reached its funding goal, just five days into the campaign. The book will be published!
Having funded the book publication, the focus now shifts to restoring the live action footage that was used to rotoscope Tom Waits For No One.
Stretch Goal: $11,500
The live action film includes several hours of the original shoot. It hasn’t been seen in 35 years and needs to be rescued from the original, aging tapes.
Today sees the launch of a new Kickstarter campaign to publish Tom Waits For No One: The Illustrated Scrapbook.
Completed in 1979, too early for MTV, this groundbreaking animated short had no commercial release. Without distribution or a ready market, it slipped into total obscurity before being uploaded to YouTube in 2006:
The 160 page book will compile director John Lamb’s archive of character studies, animation cels, rotoscope drawings, backgrounds and photographs from the film’s production.
As well as the first edition book, rewards for those who back the project include rare original rotoscope drawings, a set of six postcards, a TWFNO t-shirt and a framed original animation cel sequence:
The Kickstarter will run for 30 days. Get behind The Mule and don’t let Tom Waits For No One be the one that got away!
Visit the Kickstarter page: Tom Waits For No One: The Illustrated Scrapbook
For more information, visit tomwaitsfornoone.com
With the filming complete and the live action now edited, we were ready to do the rotoscoping. The rotoscope was a device that included a lightbox for tracing, and required a dark room for the best image clarity. With no darkroom handy at the studio, we put the entire contraption in a standard clothes closet, leaving just enough room for the artist.
Keith Newton, the youngest member of the cast, had a beautiful line and his character study of Waits was masterful – and it was chosen for the film. His reward for this honor among the artists? He was elected to singlehandedly trace the entire 5 ½ minute live action film (around 4,000 drawings) by hand.
So there was Keith Newton, with Waits, the apparition and the rotoscope in that dark closet for 6-8 hours each day for three months. The apparition, played by the actress Donna Gordon, became a studio favorite. Apart from Waits himself, gorgeous Donna Gordon drawings filled the studio walls, and most of those drawings can still be seen throughout the Tom Waits For No One Scrapbook.
As weeks turned to months in the rotoscope closet, the tedious process was taking its toll on Keith, which became apparent in his random drawings: little cartoon demons looking over his shoulder while at the drawing table, and a nightmarish horned-Waits hovering over a bed, while a set of eyes (presumably Newton’s) peek out from under the covers. In retrospect, it had to have been hellish for Keith, and his drawings tell the story more clearly than he ever said!
When Newton completed a scene, it was off to the animators, David Silverman, Rod Dryden and Harry Sabin, to apply the character to every drawing. After the drawings were cleaned up, Mike Cressey would ink each one onto a cel, ready to be painted. Cressey had a beautiful line as well and hands like a surgeon. He inked the entire film himself.
The animation team experimented with several color combinations for painting both characters. When the colors were finally chosen, the cels were all painted by hand. Ray Roberts’ amazing airbrushed backgrounds completed the overall atmosphere of the film.
Once the film was finished, a squall of activity followed – the premier at a Hollywood film festival, early acclaim, interviews and articles about the film, the break-up of Lyon Lamb, and then – as fast as it had arrived, the film disappeared.
Tom Waits For No One is now being archived for preservation by the iotaCenter in Los Angeles, a non-profit which brings attention to and preserves underrepresented, experimental works in film and animation. The Scrapbook, is perhaps the most complete record of the talented team, their work, and the film itself. Completed in 1980 as a personal record, I simply put it away and moved on.
Just a few months ago, I discovered an article on the last page, pasted on the inside of the back cover. The Mix, a music magazine still in publication, featured an interview with Tom Waits (volume 4, issue 6) in an article titled “The Making of a Blue Movie”. An excerpt is included, the interviewer asks questions and Waits replies…
What do you think of the cartoon?
I think it’s remarkable. It has a lot of feeling to it…it moves very well.
Does it look like Tom Waits to you?
Yeah…it’s a little peculiar to see yourself. I think it’s got a lot of style…and it has a nice fabric to it. I think it’s got a big future…mine is a little bleak at the moment.
Several years after the film was completed, while waiting at a stop light in North Hollywood, a 1964 gold Coupe de Ville with white upholstery pulled up – it was one of Detroit’s finest. With the windows rolled down, a guy had his arm hanging out the driver’s side with his t-shirt sleeve rolled up. I then realized who it was. “Hey Waits,” I yelled.
Tom looked over at me, and said “Hey, you’re that Lyon Lamb guy…” and tipped his porkpie as the light turned green. I went east on Gower as Tom continued cruising that gold Caddy south in the Hollywood sun.
Part 1: The Story
Part 2: The Scrapbook
Part 3: The Shoot
(Credit: ©John Lamb)
The first edition of Tom Waits: A Photo Session With Mitchell Rose is now available exclusively at: www.mitchellrosephotos.com/waitsbook
To celebrate the release, Mitchell Rose is generously giving The Mule’s readers the chance to win a hardcover copy!
To enter the contest simply “Like” this post on The Mule’s Facebook page:
One winner will be randomly selected at 12:00 PM BST on Monday 6th October.
The book is available in hardcover and softcover editions, as well as a larger coffee table edition with a protective sleeve. For more information, please visit: www.mitchellrosephotos.com/waitsbook
The Tom Waits For No One Kickstarter launches today!
Completed in 1979, too early for MTV, this groundbreaking animated short had no commercial release and no distribution. Without distribution or a ready market, it slipped into total obscurity before being uploaded to YouTube in 2006.
The Kickstarter will help fund the 35th Anniversary Celebration of Tom Waits For No One, set to take place in March 2015 at Catchlight Studios in Hollywood, the old La Brea Stage building where the live action footage of Tom Waits was shot. In order for this to happen, the original live action footage and video pencil tests will need to be restored and transferred to a contemporary format to be screened during the event. All elements or the film’s production, including the original animation cels and Lyon Lamb Video Rotoscope, will be brought back together for the first time in thirty-five years. Both nights will also feature music by New Orleans pianist Tom McDermott and jazz singer Meschiya Lake.
A Tom Waits For No One Scrapbook will also be published as part of the Kickstarter campaign and will feature a bevy of miscellanea created, drawn, doodled or collected during the film’s production. It will include character studies, character turnarounds, storyboards and set concept drawings published in hardback and soft cover editions. The foreword, written by Gunnar Strom, describes Tom Waits For No One as “a pioneering American music video, it is also probably the first ever rotoscoped music video”.
Let’s give this remarkable film the recognition it deserves – get behind The Mule and don’t let Tom Waits For No One be the one that got away!
Visit the Kickstarter page: kickstarter.com/projects/719707576/tom-waits-for-no-one-35th-anniversary-celebration
For more information, please visit tomwaitsfornoone.com.