Dear David, (*Forrest Gump wave*)
I have a confession.
I’ve loved you since November, 1986.
I was 7 years old, and the animated film An American Tail had just been released. For myself and an unspeakable amount of children from then until now, we were swept into a magical world where there were no cats in America and the streets were paved with cheese. Only it turned out there were cats in America, and any cheese on the street wasn’t that desirable after all.
The classic story of heartache and hope, adventure and treachery would keep us perched on the edge of our crumb-filled seats from the first glimpse of the Giant Mouse of Minsk until that moment when the distant echos of Papa Moskowitz’s violin reached Fievel’s giant ears, and he was reunited once again with his family. As any good creative-souled child is prone to do during a case of the Feels, I would cry along with everyone else on the screen.
I didn’t actually know you back then of course, but I knew your work. As did all the other kids that loved to watch An American Tail, or the animated version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, or The Land Before Time, and all the countless work you’ve animated over the years. We loved the art without knowing the artist.
Only as a serendipitous turn of events several years ago would have it, fate would place me squarely in your backyard, and suddenly I was face to face with one of the few artists that bear responsibility for the majority of my childhood movie memories. A wedding for one of your daughters resulted in a close friendship with your family, into which I’ve been not-so-quietly adopted, which somehow led to me startling your mother in the garage (sorry), which again somehow led to entirely too many margaritas by the pool (it may have been scotch, ask Robert), which understandably led to the dog trying to remove my thumb when I startled it in the dark on your front porch the last time I showed up. I feel like the dog should make a tick-tock-ticking noise every time I come around now, and my thumb would start twitching in rhythm with it. Captain Hook and the crocodile. I’m fairly certain he wants the rest of me.
Thanks for showing me that it’s actually really cool to be a creative kid. Thanks for teaching me that art and storytelling can have a ridiculously huge impact, especially in the hearts and minds of children. Thanks for the late night conversations about filmmaking, the early morning conversations about life, and for always, always, always encouraging music, art, and creativity in both the lives of your ridiculously talented kids, and this not-so-quietly adopted one.
My dad loved good people, and he taught me to always let someone know you appreciate them when they’ve been a positive influence or encouragement in your life, and you, sir, are one of the absolute best. Much love this Father’s Day.
My regards to the dog,
P.S. Should any of you wish to keep up with what David and his animation company are up to these days, check out Creative Capers Entertainment on the web, or @CreativeCapers on Instagram.