Fine Arts Films
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(not to be confused with a production company founded by film pioneer D. W. Griffith)
The company's first production was Tara, the Stonecutter, which won high praise and many awards including the New York Golden Eagle, the London Film Festival Award and the Edinburgh Film Festival Award. The next production was the groundbreaking animated music special Petroushka (based on Stravinsky's ballet) for NBC's Sol Hurok Music Hour. It was noted for being one of the first animated shows on television and for being what could be called the first music video. Stravinsky himself conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Fine Arts Films sought to raise the bar on children's entertainment by creating educational and illuminating shorts, many of which were shown in schools during class. These shorts were also broadcast as part of NBC's show Exploring and won the Peabody Award. Wilson additionally has seven Golden Eagle Awards for this work.
Wilson was given the chance by Australian television to set up shop in Melbourne. He later returned to the United States to work on his only feature film, Shinbone Alley, based on the hit Broadway musical of the 1950s. Shinbone incorporated the talents of some of the original cast, including Eddie Bracken as Archie the Cockroach, Carol Channing as Mehitabel, and John Carradine as Tyrone T. Tattersol. The film was honored with the Grand Prize Golden Phoenix Award at the 1970 Atlanta Film Festival, beating 900 films, including live action features, for the top prize.
One of the studio's more notable achievements was for the 1960 Seattle World's Fair. The film, Journey to the Stars, used cutting-edge technology and was seen by over seven million people. It was the first 70mm Fulldome presentation, a precursor to IMAX.
Other noteworthy credits include opening titles and many music videos for The Sonny and Cher Show, the animated opening sequence for Grease, an animated trailer for Billy Wilder's Irma La Douce and the ABC-TV half hour animated special, Stanley, the Ugly Duckling. He directed The Seventh Brother for Family Films, Fox Network-TV's Peter Pan and the Pirates, Fraggle Rock, Muppet Babies, Jem and The Specialists for MTV.
- Journey to the Stars (film) (1952) (shown at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair)
- Shinbone Alley (film) (1970)
- Grease (film) (1977)
- Petrushka (ballet) (segment on Sol Hurok Music Hour) (1956)
- The Sonny and Cher Show (TV series) (1970–73)
- The Carol Burnett Show (TV series) (1972–76)
- COS w/Bill Cosby (TV series) (1974)
- Stanley, the Ugly Duckling (TV show) (1982)
- The Specialists / MTV (TV show) (1992)
- Madeline (TV show) (1994)
- Shinbone Alley (Golden Phoenix)
- Tara, the Stonecutter' (New York Golden Eagle, London Film Festival Award, Edinburgh Film Festival Award)
- Madeline (ACE Award)
Home video and commercial video release
Video Gems, a home video company, released at least two anthologies of short-form animation films by John Wilson, John Wilson's Animation Wonderland and John Wilson's Mini Musicals (also known as The Fantastic All-Electric Music Movie).
- Animation Wonderland was released on VHS in the early 1980s. It includes over 15 animation shorts by Wilson that were produced for NBC TV in the US. The video is over 100 minutes in length. The animation works, based on famous children stories and folklore, included were Casey at the Bat, Gulliver's Travels, The Salty Sea, The Early Birds, The Tinder Box and Voyage to the Moon.
- John Wilson's Mini Musicals or The Fantastic All-Electric Music Movie included 16 short-form animation music videos that were originally produced for The Sonny and Cher Show and broadcast on CBS TV from the early-to-mid-1970s. Some of the music videos were animated to the popular songs of the day. many featuring renditions by Sonny Bono and Cher. Included on this video release are two music videos for the Joni Mitchell songs "Big Yellow Taxi" and "Both Sides Now". Another short form animated music video Sonny and Cher performing "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" and "Higher Ground". All 16 animated music videos were produced and created by Wilson's Fine Arts Films.