dinsdag 18 januari 2011

Career overview

Harold F. Mack (born March 6, 1918 in London) was a British animator and director, who worked for several major animation Studio’s in Europe. He worked for Halas and Bachelor, Gaumont British Animation, British Animated Productions, Julius Pinschewer, and the Marten Toonder Studio’s. Eventually he started his own studio, the Anglo Dutch Group in 1958 in Amstelveen in the Netherlands. He won several prizes with his work and always worked closely with his wife Pamela Mack, who was specialized in color schemes.

Early days

Having an artist for an older brother Harold Mack got interested in drawing at a young age.  He won a scholarship and studied art at Harrow Polytechnic. After this four year education he got a job at the advertising agency Gordon Lawrence. He started at the bottom by cleaning paint buckets for five pounds a week. In those days he first met with John Halas who rented space in the same building. At that time Halas had not yet started his own studio.
Harold Mack then went to work for Lord and Thomas, one of the world's largest advertising agencies in those days. But the studio had to re-organize when World War II started and Mack was one of those who had to leave.

Halas and Bachelor

By then John Halas was developing an animation studio with his wife Joyce Bachelor and he asked Harold Mack to work for him. Mack worked on several Halas and Bachelor productions in the early nineteen forties. Among them were Carnival in the Clothes Cupboard (1940) and the commercial Train Trouble (1940). In this period Halas and Bachelor also created several films for the Ministery of Information. Mack worked on many of them, including the antifascist Abu-series.

Gaumont British Animation

In 1944 Mack was asked to join a new studio that was formed by producer J. Arthur Rank. Rank wanted to set up an animation business in England that had to compete with the American cartoons. For this purpose he asked Disney-director David Hand to come over to the Moor Hall Studio in Cookham. Hand agreed and and got together animators from all over the country. He also provided training programs for the animators and here Mack learned a lot about animation from people like Ralph Wright, John Reed, Ray Patterson and Hand himself. Mack became a head animator and worked on commercials and the Animaland series. After two and a half years however he felt exploited and left.

British Animated Pictures

Mack teamed up with former Max Fleischer animator George Moreno to work on his short-lived Bubble and Squeek series. Mack directed cartoon shorts, such as Big city (1947) and Old manor house (1948). He met with animator Pamela French, who was a much talented color specialist and the two got married.    

Harold Mack working at the Bubble and Squeek series. 

Julius Pinschewer

After two years Mack again decided it was time for a change. He had always felt somewhat detained on the British island and realized that his career had been influenced by foreign animators like John Halas (Hungary) and David Hand (U.S.A.). He now went to Bern, Switzerland to add another foreign mentor to his list: Julius Pinschewer. Harold and Pamela Mack worked for Pinschewer on the short Willie does his stuff (1949).

Harold Mack at work for Julius Pinschewer.

Toonder Studio’s

Then Mack learned about the plans of Dutch cartoonist Marten Toonder to create a full-length animated feature in Amsterdam. Harold and Pamela Mack visited Toonder, who at that time had just lost almost his complete animation staff to another studio. Mack was hired on the spot and together with Toonder he slowly started to rebuild a new animation department.

The first Toonder-productions that Mack worked on were Plucky Panda’s penny (1949) and Tom Puss and the Loch Ness Monster (1950), two short subjects that made use of cutout techniques.
Their following collaboration however, took the animated film to a next level. In The Golden Fish (1951) Toonder and Mack wanted to create a cartoon feature that was not based on a range of gags as many American cartoons were. The Golden Fish became a rather poetic and even philosophical short. It was based on a poem, written by Jan Gerhard Toonder, who found inspiration in eastern philosophy. The film was shown at festivals in Edinburgh and Venice, where it was well received. Since the film differed from standard American cartoons, critics hailed it as fresh and innovating.
Then the animation department at the Toonder Studio’s was joined by animators Børge Ring and Bjørn Frank Jensen from Denmark. With Mack as director they collaborated on Hugo, a series of six shorts, created to re-educate Germany after the war. A circus figure, named Hugo learned the importance of co-operating with others. Hugo represented Germany, while the other circus characters represented other European countries. The series were created for the Marshall Plan and designed by American animator Philipp Stapp. 

Most of the time Mack and his colleagues worked on commercials for the British and German television, but Marten Toonder also assigned them to create another independent short subject, titled Moonglow (1954).
Through his contacts with an agent in England, Harold Mack was responsible for a great deal of commercial assignments at the Toonder Studio’s and in 1958 he and Pamela decided to leave and begin their own studio.

The Anglo Dutch Group

With assignements coming in from England Mack started the Anglo Dutch Group, his own animation studio in Aalsmeer in The Netherlands.
His work consisted most of commercials, but on occasion he also created political cartoons for the Ed Murrow Show. Mack won Clio Awards for his television commercials The professionals (1969) for Firestone tyres and Hippies (1974) for 7-Up. His commercial Hippies also won Awards at the International Broadcasting Awards Festival in Hollywood and the Irish Advertising Awards Festival in Kinsale. He also won awards for Wijs de weg (1974), Eunuch (1974) and Kameleons (1974), also for 7-Up.  
Harold Mack tought animation to his young employees Bill Karstens and Rupert van der Linden and to a new generation of Dutch animators, including Ronald Raaymakers.     
On one night Harold and Pamela Mack were driving home, when they were hit by a milktruck. Mack ended up in the hospital and needed a hip replacement. During the hospital stay his studio got robbed.
In 1975 Mack had ideas for an independent short, but near the end of that year he got ill and was diagnosed with cancer. Harold Mack died on December 24, 1975. One of the last films, that he contributed to was High as a kite (1976), a 30 minute film that consisted of live action combined with animated sequences. Pamela Mack returned to Engeland shortly after his death. 

Harold Mack in his own studio The Anglo Dutch Group in Aalsmeer (photo taken by Cornelis Kapsenberg in 1974).

4 opmerkingen:

  1. Hoi Jan-Willem,

    Wanneer is Harold Mack nu overleden? In je boek (een fantastisch standaardwerk over De Toonder Animatiefilms) schrijf je op blz. 109: 24 december 1974 en in dit blog: 24 december 1975.

  2. De datumvermelding op pagina 109 is niet juist. Bij de carrière beschrijving van Harold Mack, achterin het boek, staat wel de juiste datum vermeld.

  3. Harold en Pamela begonnen in Amstelveen en niet in Aaslmeer, na het overlijden van Harold in Haarlem, verhuisde Pamela naar Leusden Centrum bij Amersfoort
    na Leusden vertrok zij naar Zwitserland naar haar Zus.
    De productie High as a Kite is vervaardigd door vrienden,collega's voor Mack (zo werd hij genoemd) na zijn overlijden!