A Little History
The San Francisco chapter of ASIFA began after Prescott Wright traveled to the Annecy Festival in 1973. At first, there were hurdles to overcome, as the founding French chapter insisted that ASIFA chapters could only be organized on a national (not regional) basis, and ASIFA-Hollywood (formed in 1962) was the organization that the international body recognized. But with support from the local animation community the San Francisco Animation Association was begun.
Informal meetings were held at Imagination Inc. (virtually the only game in town for professional animation at that time), followed by open membership meetings at the Canadian Consulate’s screening room. As the word spread, many amateur animators and enthusiasts joined the organization.
Eventually, our formal ASIFA-SF Charter was drafted in 1983, with Prescott Wright as Founding President, and Jeff Hale, Margaret Hale, Geraldine (Frerks) Clarke and Rudy Zamora Jr. as the Board of Directors.
Over the years, ASIFA-SF has formed its own, unique personality (like that of the Bay Area) with a commitment to personal vision and artistic expression thru animation.
Our current president is Karl Cohen, who has served continuously since 1992. An instructor at S. F. State University (in Animation History), Karl writes and edits the ASIFA-SF newsletter which is beloved around the world as a comprehensive source for animation news and opinions.
ASIFA-SF gathers professionals, students and aficionados who share, create and promote the art of animation here and around the world. Members enjoy screenings, lectures and other events year ’round. If you’ve read this far, shouldn’t you be a member too?
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I just found this site because an old boyfriend who only knew me as Geraldine Frerks just found me on Facebook because he googled me and found me as “Frerks Clarke” here.
Anyway, I need to set the record straight. Prescott and I did not meet at Annecy. We knew each other long before and he was the one who got me to go to the festival in 1973 and introduced me to so many wonderful people and changed my life. Thank you, dear Pres! R.I.P.
We had been introduced by a mutual friend, Jim Goldner, a Professor in the Film Dept. at S.F. State where I was a grad student. I became Prescott’s teaching assistant for a documentary film history class at S.F. State. He was producing the Tournee of Animation at the time and I was working as a cel inker/painter/checker at Imagination, Inc. Finding a mutual interest in animation in common, Pres and I, along with Jeff and Margaret Hale and all the others of us employed at Imagination got together to start the San Francisco branch of ASIFA.
Someone really should do a dissertation about Imagination, Inc. and animation in S.F. in the 60’s and 70’s. Lots of amazing people worked there. Imagination, Inc. produced Sesame Street segments before the show ever aired and defined the animation that taught several generations to read. All those great actors from The Committee did voices for us and Grace Slick , the Pointer Sisters and others did the music.
One of the Imagination, Inc. owners, John Magnuson, who, incidentally, wrote the “Rice-a -Roni, the San Francisco Treat” jingle, was a great friend of Lenny Bruce which resulted in the “Thank You, Mask Man” cartoon and the basement at Imagination, Inc. was filled with films of Bruce’s performances. Besides Jeff and John, the third partner in Imagination was Walt Kraemer who did such great work with The Committee. Damn, there is so much history there that maybe I should write it up if no one else is interested. Isn’t there a current grad student out there who could get interested?
We all were also the S.F. part of the Selection Committee for the Tournee of Animation which often (usually) disagreed with the Hollywood Selection Committee. Lots of interesting stories there.
And Pres wasn’t the first ASIFA-SF President as was stated above. At that first meeting at the Canadian Consulate hosted by the genial and generous Tom Johnston, no one really wanted to be so pushy as to put him/herself forward except for an ad agency guy whose name escapes me right now. Since all us animation folk were so reticent, the ad guy became President for the first year and then, next year, I became President after we organized ourselves. (I didn’t know it at the time but being an ASIFA President came with many percs if you could get to an ASIFA festival. I was a grad student with no money but showing up at the festivals at Annecy and Zagreb as an ASIFA President got me lodging and food at the Festival’s expense and introduced me to people who said “When you get to London (Paris, Venice, etc,), stay at my place.” At the time, airlines offered a 6 week return ticket really, really cheap. I got to see a lot of the world. It was the best of times….
Prescott and Margaret Hale are gone now but Jeff Hale is still living (and living very happily in Oregon), but dammit, there are so many stories that haven’t been told….