"Get a good idea, and stay with it. Dog it, and work at it until it's done, and done right." - Walt Disney
Friday, May 12, 2017
David High Ain't Afraid of No Ghost!
Much like Bill Murray stumbling upon Slimer in an upper hallway of the Sedgewick Hotel in Ghostbusters (1984), I, too, recently stumbled upon some things (but far more pleasant and not at all slimy).
The art you see above was created by artist, David High, during the storyboard stages of Ghostbusters production. High shared with me, "I did a fairly large painting of Slimer down this hall...with a cart full of trays of food...a setup to show...a director a visual of what it would kind of look like." High emphasized that he did not design Slimer himself, as that was the work of Thom Enriquez.
When you look at High's Ghostbusters storyboard painting above, isn't it amazing how closely it resembles the final scene in the film? Although Harold Ramis and Dan Ackroyd's story treatment contained such a scene, it was David High, among other artists, who conceived it visually before it was committed to film.
In the midst of interviewing Mr. High, I had no idea that Ghostbusters would become a topic of discussion. Dave - as he prefers to be called - began by sharing his artistic relationship with the late background painter, Ron Dias (which was my original reason for reaching out to him). But, as with any friendly conversation, memories and recollections pop up, and the best of surprises spring forth.
David High began his film career in animation at Hanna Barbera in the late 60's "in the Xerox department, in the basement, on the graveyard shift." It was soon after that Dave got underfoot, and ended up meeting background painter, Ron Dias, in the morning after one of his nightshifts. One thing led to another, and before he knew it, Dave was working in the background department at Hanna Barbera.
From the late 60's on, Dave worked as a background or layout artist on such animated projects as: Uncle Sam Magoo (1970), Charlotte's Web (1973), Heathcliff (1980-1981), Alvin and the Chipmunks (1983-1984), The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin (1987), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1988), and An Extremely Goofy Movie (2000). Little did kids know that a guy named David High was partly responsible for bringing so much joy to their childhoods. The scene with Slimer gorging himself on food (as seen above in Dave's storyboard art) certainly brought me a lot of joy as a youngster.
When asking Dave about his early art endeavors, he shared, "I started painting sweatshirts at car shows...when I got out of the Navy I went down and started trying making some money painting sweatshirts at the beach." Dave's art skills were especially refined while working as a draftsman in the Navy in the mid-60s. Airbrush was a medium he particularly enjoyed, which lent itself well to shirt design. In fact, shirt design stuck with Dave throughout the decades, and even today, at 75 years old, he operates his very own inking business out of Simi Valley, CA. On one particular film, his expertise at shirt design came especially in handy.
"If you remember the movie, at the very end, when they were hocking T-shirts?" Dave asked me. "Well, I did all the T-shirts."
Guess the movie...