Richard Williams: A look inside his Studio

This two part video is a 1967 documentary/dramatization of what it was like to work in the Richard Williams Animation Studio, back when they were in full force.

At this point in time, there’s no mention about the Thief and the Cobbler, and likely it was only a fleeting idea in the midst of all of their other personal and commercial projects. The Thief likely went into constant production during the early 70s, from what I can tell in interviews with Dick.

The Creative Person: PART 1

The Creative Person: PART 2

I rather like this documentary piece, because it gives you a sense of candid reality from the perspective of Williams, even if some of the footage seems rehearsed or drummed up for emphasis and exaggeration. It shows you their daily grind, their process for creating a single commercial and the animation process from start-to-finish, and it shows you how Williams himself interacted with his staff and looked upon his own work and personal history up to that point.

The film is also rather impressive just in its direction and shot choices, because it aims to dramatize the world of Dick Williams Animation in the way that one might shooting a fictional narrative about it. And because they likely filmed it with only one camera, they would have had to have Dick walk up and down that flight of stairs each time they moved the camera to get a new angle. And you sometimes don’t appreciate that sort of thing while watching something like this.

Very few films like this–from this 1st hand-perspective–have been made. And I only know of Disney, Pixar, and Studio Ghibli doing something remotely similar. But the way in which this was made was also indicative of the time period, especially in how linear the editing is, how slow and evenly paced it is, and how it doesn’t try to make everything seem too magical or exciting. The footage of Studio Ghibli in their behind-the-scenes footage is much the same way. It’s far less magical than it all seems in the end, and it’s always very hard work: as Williams is quick to tell you.

I also found it a bit exciting to see that Richard Williams is a bit of a voice-actor, or at least a voice-impressionist, because he himself created the voice for that wise-man that they’re animating in that early sequence. And if you watch enough of Dick in interviews you may notice him attempt a few other voices as well. I even saw a version of the Recobbled Cut of Thief , where Dick filled in a few lines for the character Zig-Zag, where Dick did his best Vincent Price voice. And it was rather good, to say the least.

I encourage all animation majors and animation enthusiasts to watch this unique piece of history, and to appreciate what it has to say, even if it isn’t necessarily anything new. Because it is an invaluable look at the work-ethic and ideals of one of our most talented animation artists still alive today.