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Gerald Potterton

Director, Producer, Animator
(b. March 8, 1931 London, United Kingdom)

Few Canadian careers have been as colourful as that of Gerald Potterton. One of the famed “Great Brits” (Derek Lamb being the other) who emigrated to Canada from England to join the National Film Board, Potterton arrived in the mid-fifties and was at the forefront of the animation wave that gave the NFB new prominence. By the early sixties, he had been twice nominated for Academy Awards – for My Financial Career (1962) and Christmas Cracker (1962). His comic sense proved equally adept in both live-action and animated films, allowing him to direct features, theatrical shorts and television programmes in either format. He also pioneered Canadian animated production for both features and television.

After working as an assistant animator for Halas and Bachelor in London, Potterton joined the NFB in 1954 and directed both animated and live-action films. He collaborated with Harold Pinter on Pinter People (1969) and the legendary Buster Keaton on The Railrodder (1965), which won a Canadian Film Award and is still considered a classic short film.

Having contributed animation to George Dunning’s seminal animated feature Yellow Submarine (1968), he formed Potterton Productions in 1968, which produced both animated and live-action films. Apart from Potterton’s own films, these included Larry Kent’s Fleur Bleue (1971) and Mike Mills’s The Happy Prince (1974), The Little Mermaid (1975) and The Christmas Messenger (1975). He also directed live-action and animated sequences for "Sesame Street" and "The Electric Company" in the early seventies.

After Potterton Productions folded in 1974, he returned to freelance work in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada, which included a stint as sequence and associate director on Richard Williams’s Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure (1977). He was then hired by producer Ivan Reitman to direct the animated feature Heavy Metal (1981), which would become a cult classic. Potterton coordinated more than one thousand artists, animators and technicians from seventeen countries working in Los Angeles, New York, London, Montreal and Ottawa. He continued through the eighties and early nineties making animated and live-action features for television and video, such as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1987) and the subsequent, spin-off TV series.

Film and video work includes

Huff and Puff, 1955 (co-writer, co-animator with Grant Munro)
Fish Spoilage Control, 1956 (animator)
It's a Crime, 1957 (animator)
Hors d'oeuvre, 1960 (co-director, co-animator with Arthur Lipsett, Derek Lamb, Kaj Pindal et al.)
Life and Radiation, 1960 (co-animator with Kenneth Horn, Pierre L'Amare)
Christmas Cracker, 1963 (co-director with Grant Munro, Jeff Hale)
The Ride, 1963 (director; actor)
The Railrodder, a.k.a. The Railroader, 1965 (director; writer; co-editor with Jo Kirkpatrick)
Cool McCool series, 1966 (director; TV)
The Quiet Racket, 1966 (director)
Yellow Submarine, 1968 (animator)
Pinter People, 1969 (director)
Tiki Tiki, 1971 (co-director with Rolan Bykov, Jack Stokes; writer; producer)
The Rainbow Boys, a.k.a. The Rainbow Gang, 1973 (director; writer)
The Happy Prince, 1974 (producer)
The Little Mermaid, a.k.a. Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid, 1975 (executive producer)
Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure, 1977 (animator; associate and sequence director)
Canada Vignettes: Winter - Dressing Up, 1979 (director; writer)
Canada Vignettes: Winter - Starting the Car, 1979 (director; writer)
The Awful Fate of Melpomenus Jones, 1983 (director; animator)
George and the Christmas Star, 1985 (director; writer; producer; TV)
Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow, 1987 (appears as himself; TV)
The Emerald City of Oz, 1987 (director; title design)
The Marvelous Land of Oz, 1987 (director; title design)
Ozma of Oz, 1987 (director; title design)
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, 1987 (director; title design)
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz series, 1987 (director; TV)
The Smoggies series, 1988 (director; writer, TV)
The Real Story of Happy Birthday to You, 1992 (director)