Paul Fierlinger

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Paul Fierlinger (born March 15, 1936 as Pavel Fierlinger) is a creator of animated films and shorts, especially animated documentaries.[1] He is also a part-time lecturer at University of Pennsylvania School of Design.

Early life[edit]

Paul Fierlinger was born on March 15, 1936 in Ashiya, Japan, the son of Czechoslovakian diplomats. His father, Jan Fierlinger, was a Czechoslovak diplomat, and his uncle Zdeněk Fierlinger was a prominent figure in the Czechoslovak communist regime from 1948 until 1968.[2] He spent the WWII years in the United States. At the age of twelve, while living in a boarding school in Podebrady, Czechoslovakia, Fierlinger created his first animated film by shooting drawings from his flipbook with a 16 mm Bolex camera. His experiences of youth and the difficulties of adapting to life in America and then returning to Czechoslovakia are documented in his biopic animated film Drawn From Memory.[3]

European career[edit]

In 1955 he graduated from the Bechyne School of Applied Arts. After two years of military service, he freelanced in Prague, as a book illustrator and gag cartoonist for cultural periodicals under the pen name Fala. Fierlinger established himself in 1958 as Czechoslovakia’s first independent producer of animated films, providing 16 mm films from his home studio for Prague TV and the 16 mm division of Kratky Film. Thus, he created approximately 200 films, ranging from 10-second station breaks to 10-minute theatrical releases and TV children’s shorts.[4]

In 1967, Fierlinger escaped from Czechoslovakia to the Netherlands, where he pitched for a number of station breaks for Dutch television in Hilversum. He then went to Paris to work for a short stint as a spot animator for Radio Television France and ended up in Munich for half a year, having been offered the job of key animator on a feature film at Linda Films, The Conference of the Animals.[5] In Munich, prior to his departure to the United States, he married a Czechoslovak compatriot and photographer, Helena Strakova.

AR&T[edit]

Fierlinger formed AR&T|AR&T Associates, Inc., his own animation house, in 1971. It produced animated segments for ABC’s Harry Reasoner specials and PBSSesame Street, including the popular Teeny Little Super Guy series, a network ID for TVPaintNickelodeon, and more. Since 1971, AR&T has produced over 700 films, of which several hundred are television commercials. Many of these films received considerable recognition, including an Academy Award nomination for It’s so Nice to Have a Wolf Around the House.[6] Other awards include some from the Ottawa International Animation Festival for And Then I’ll Stop, a 1989 film on drug and alcohol abuse. At that time, Paul and Helena were divorced.[7]

1990s and beyond[edit]

Fierlinger became a steady provider of many TV commercials [8] and sales films for US Healthcare (now Aetna), winning a variety of international awards. At this time he met and married Sandra Schuette, a fine arts painter and printmaker at the Boston Museum of Art School and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Together they developed a small series of interstitials for Nickelodeon called Amby & Dexter: The Way of Silent, a Sesame Street series called Alice Kadeezenberry, and a twenty-minute film of children’s songs for The Children’s Book of the Month Club, called Playtime.[9]

During this time, Fierlinger received a commission from PBSAmerican Playhouse to create a one-hour-long autobiography,[10] called Drawn From Memory.[11]

In 1997, Fierlinger received a PEW Fellowship in the Arts award for the body of his work.

In the late 1990s, ITVS, an agency of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, commissioned Fierlinger to create a half-hour PBS special called Still Life With Animated Dogs. This film, about dogs and other things of a divine nature, premiered on national feed March 29, 2001. The film went on to win "1st Prize" at the 2002 International Festival of Animation in Zagreb, and the Peabody Award in April, 2001.[12]

At the end of 1999, production on Still Life had to be interrupted for several months so that the Fierlingers could develop and begin the production of an animation series for Oxygen Network, Drawn from Life: two-minute films which feature the voices and simple stories of real life women. That series won the "Grand Prix of 2000" at the Ottawa International Animation Festival in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

The Fierlingers' own production of My Dog Tulip, based on the book of the same title by British author J. R. Ackerley, features the voice talents of Christopher Plummer, the late Lynn Redgrave and Isabella Rossellini.[13]

Paul and Sandra Fierlinger currently live and work out of their Wynnewood, Pennsylvania home and studio.

References[edit]

External links[edit]