Greg Bowler was a broadcast / film professor at the University of Maine at Orono.
My black and white film partner Andy Kosinski and I loved his classes. Especially when animation was the project Mr. Bowler taught the class. Handing out one hundred feet of black and white 16 mm film and telling us to have fun.
Most of the animation projects our classmates created were the here’s an orange. Watch the knife saw through the fruit simple.
I worked at WABI radio and television in Bangor Maine at the time during college so had access to lots of editing gear. Plenty of extra film footage bonus ingredients to add some razzle dazzle to the production.
Andy’s dad direct from Poland had always had more than a mild fascination with film. And that expertise with 8 mm filming from experimentation over the years helped our productions as a partner with his son Andy too.
So instead of the orange, we got Andy’s roomate Ron Rojas to put on a Mr Goodwrench mechanic’s jump suit.
We splurged from the limited film budget and purchased a lunar patrol helmet from Kmart. Fashioned a dorm size refrigerator box in to a cylinder shape that we covered with tinfoil. Placed hooks on the back and ran forty pound fishing line outback in the yard in Brewer where Andy’s parents lived. With the “space ship” hoisted high and the sixteen mm camera set up on a tripod, I would click, expose one frame. Andy would move the alien craft down the fish line a few feet, stop and I would repeat the process. Until it “landed”.
Then Ron the captain of the ship would roll out from behind it in sequence captured one frame at a time. Move, stop, move more, stop and so on. Then standing up, we had Ron jump high. In the air the black and white camera would only capture Ron off the ground. His hands up, elbows pointing where we had him “levitate”. And the direction he would move as he headed to the Beverage Warehouse in downtown Orono Maine.
The best animation trick was having Captain Ron who sported an eerie smile for the first installment of “Space Critter” fly through glass.
Facing, up against the front door to the store frequented by mostly college kids. Then Ron jumping, the camera catching him off the ground. And then stopping the filming, having Ron go inside, backing up to the glass door and jumping while we filmed him off the ground. Neat effect when the film was edited, in the can and replayed for the class.
Another film exercise started out to be the life of a lonely Bangor Maine cab driver. Story boarded with some night scenes as he waits. Smoking, listening to the jazz, blues radio. Killing time before his next fare. But a fire engine’s sirens, lights came on the scene. As we pulled off the Orono campus of the University of Maine. Causing Andy and I to make a quick executive field decision for a change of film locations.
The fire on the street north of the Stillwater River near the University of Maine at Orono mother campus was excellent real world news footage.
But the school bus pullling up to the curb and letting off the kids who lived there was very emotional, sad to watch unfold. As the kids looked at the burning, smoking house and Andy, I both thought what that scene would feel like. If the Maine house a blaze, smoldering was our own family home. Maine, learn more about her. Watch our Maine community videos…shaped a little by my partnership with Andy in college a view years back.