|Another Happy Place
WEISS: You submitted Finding Kraftland to the 2007 Santa Barbara
Film Festival, where it had its public premier on January 27, 2007.
KRAFT: It was really strange to walk into a real movie theatre and see
our poster in the lobby and the name of our film above the theatre door. I had
no idea if anyone would show up to see what is basically a very grand home
movie. It was sold out—filled with people I didn't know. They laughed at the
right places and seemed to really connect to it. Afterwards there was a Q&A with
Adam, Nicky, Stacey and myself. The moderator said that over 2,500 films had
been submitted to the festival, and after watching a thousand films on suffering
and misery, they were tickled to see something so goofy.
WEISS: What's next for Finding Kraftland? More film festivals? A
theatrical release? A DVD release? Showings on premium movie channels on cable?
KRAFT: As far as future plans, we have submitted to a number of other
festivals and have been accepted to almost two dozen so far. It is unbelievable.
We have been to screenings across the county and recently in Europe. In a way,
going to film festivals with Nicky is some cosmic extension of what the film is
really all about in the first place. What is so wonderful is having worked so
hard in making the film purely out of joy and passion and having zero
expectations of it beyond entertaining some friends at a birthday party.
Anything that follows that is pure gravy. Having no expectations makes this
whole journey a magical joy ride.
If Richard ever decides to sell tickets, he's
got the booth.
Everywhere the film plays we get to meet amazing people and have
extraordinary experiences. We treated the entire audience at the Sonoma Film
Festival in raiding a local candy shop. In Mt. Rainer, Washington, our film
screened in a yurt... and won the Audience Award, which was the first of a half
a dozen awards it has won so far. In Spain, we had the film subtitled, and even
with the language barrier it was greeted with lots of laughter and tears. It
truly is a small world, after all.
On a pragmatic level, I don't envision a theatrical or commercial release. It
might just be ideal for film festivals.
WEISS: What do you hope to achieve by exposing Finding Kraftland
to a larger
KRAFT: The best thing about more people seeing the film is the
opportunity to share our home and our family with others. I love having visitors
come to our house, and the film lets us give a cinematic tour to share in the
fun stuff we are so lucky to have. And it lets me share my relationship with
Nicky, which is the most important thing in my life.
WEISS: I doubt I'm the only person who will think of the term "self-indulgent"
while watching Finding Kraftland. You call it an
"incredibly shameless home movie." The movie is primarily about you and your
teenage son Nicky (but there's also a loving tribute to your late brother
Son, Father and Doombuggy
KRAFT: I love all forms of indulgence, self or otherwise. As long as
nothing is at the expense of someone else, I think everyone should luxuriate in
self-indulgence. The TIME Person of the Year was "YOU." Billions of us made it
on the mirrored cover because things like My Space and YouTube have shifted the
storytelling away from a handful of creators into the hands of everyone.
truth is, everyone's story is more interesting than 99% of the films that get
made in Hollywood. We all have quirks and eccentricities and histories that are
rich and ripe and juicy. We live in a blog world where we realize our lives are
important and worth sharing.
My life has also had its share of tragedy, having lost my brother, mother and
father all in a short period of time. I would much rather "indulge" in
celebrating the joys and memories of them than quietly sleepwalking through
life. And I have promised anyone who watches Finding Kraftland that I
will gladly sit through any slide shows anyone wants to give me on their family
trip to the Grand Canyon.
WEISS: Would you have made the movie differently if you had intended it
to be for a wider audience?
KRAFT: I don't think I would have ever made the film if it were
originally intended for a wider audience. I would have been too self-conscious
about what would "they" think. It was quite liberating to make something to just
amuse my son and myself.
WEISS: You run a successful agency representing some of the biggest film
theatre composers, several of whom appear in the film. How do they feel about
exposing the film to a wider audience?
Dumbo on final landing approach.
KRAFT: My clients are tickled. Most have been with me for almost two
decades. They know their agent is a big kid with a Dumbo in his living room.
They are getting a kick out of being the Greek choir in the film commenting on
my madness. And Marc Shaiman's music video from the film has gotten thousands of
views on YouTube. He has been nominated for five Oscars and won both a Tony and
an Emmy, and this silly little ditty has gotten him more public exposure than
almost anything else.
WEISS: How did you get involved in representing composers in the first
KRAFT: Everything good in my life has started with passion. As kids my
brother and I were obsessed with film music. By the time I was out of high
school I had thousands of soundtracks that we had purchased at thrift stores. My
brother and I were interviewing our favorite composers for Xeroxed fan magazines
when we were 9 or 10 years old.
I never went to college and instead followed my passion for film and music to
Los Angeles, were several of the composers I had met as a kid helped me get into
the business. My first client was Danny Elfman, followed by Jerry Goldsmith.
Over the years I have been blessed to work with many of my heroes like Henry
Mancini, John Barry, Elmer Bernstein and more recently Alan Menken. I cried like
a baby after the opening number "Belle" in Beauty and the Beast, I was
that overwhelmed by the genius of that score. I still can't believe that I get
to give something back to Alan after all the happiness his music has brought me.
As a Disney fanatic, you can only imagine the thrill of being involved in the
music of their animated films and theme park attractions. One of my sweetest
memories was riding Soarin' Over California with Jerry Goldsmith who was
composing the score. We rode it while it was still under construction and were
like two giddy kids getting to sneak behind the scenes. While the ride was
interesting and novel, I had no idea how extraordinary it would be until Jerry's
majestic music was put into it.
WEISS: There are many people who collect popular culture artifacts and
memorabilia, but I think it's safe to say that few collections are as extensive
as yours or contain actual Disneyland ride vehicles. What are your favorite
popular culture artifacts in your collection? What are your favorite Disney
items in your collection?
Fries are extra.
KRAFT: I really love my Bob's Big Boy in my foyer. I was really lucky to
have recently become friends with Richard Sherman and his wife. When they first
came over to my house he was totally taken by Bob. He saw it as a real piece of
art... a genuine comment on America and Commerce and joy.
After dinner he went
over to the piano and started playing requests. There were songs from Poppins
and Pooh and Charlotte's Web. After he sang Feed the Birds. I
asked him to indulge us with one more song. As he started to sing There's a
Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow, I looked up. There soaring over this
magnificent songwriter was my Dumbo ride vehicle. Every hair stood up on my arm.
All of my hopes and dreams as a little kid had magnificently come true in that
WEISS: Any other favorites?
KRAFT: In addition to Dumbo, I love the Mr. Toad car in my library and
the Submarine Voyage Sea Serpent by the pool; he always cracks me up. Also love
my Sky Bucket, my Space Mountain car and my Davy Crockett Explorer Canoe. Heck,
I even like my Rocket Rod, which makes a far better decoration than it did an
The item I most covet is a Caterpillar Car from Alice in Wonderland. I love
his smug, self-satisfied look, like, "I may be your slave schlepping you back
and forth over these giant leaves, but I am still superior to you, you tacky
WEISS: The Bertha Mae, one of the actual keelboats form Disneyland's Mike
Fink Keel Boats ride, appeared on eBay's Disney Auctions site in December 2001.
The description said that the boat "is not actually a seaworthy craft. It is
suitable for display and/or storage on solid ground only..." Someone paid $15
thousand. Now that I've seen Finding Kraftland, I finally know who bought
the Bertha Mae!
Love, exciting and new, come aboard, we're
KRAFT: I never went on the Keel Boats when they were in Disneyland. They
looked like such a snooze. I was certainly not going to waste a ticket going on
one. Then the Bertha May came up for auction. I felt possessed. I had always
loved your website, Yesterland. I loved the idea of a cyber-space where all of
the attractions of the past lived on. Owning a keel boat would be like really
visiting Yesterland. So for quite a bit more than the cost of a "C" ticket, I
can now visit Disneyland of the Past whenever I want.
WEISS: Currently, you have the Bertha Mae in storage, but your plans are
to build a lagoon for the Bertha Mae on your property. How is that project
proceeding? How will you make sure the Bertha Mae is seaworthy? How do you plan
to use the Bertha Mae? As a floating work of art? Or perhaps as a floating
outdoor dining room?
KRAFT: The original plan was to crane it over our house and build a
lagoon in our backyard. I envisioned a picnic area with the keelboat as the
centerpiece, sort of like the Chicken of the Sea Ship in Fantasyland. After a
few meeting with various engineers and my business manager, reality kicked in.
So it has lived in storage ever since.
My son keeps reminding me that when Walt
ran out of space in Anaheim he went to Florida. So maybe one day the Bertha Mae
might be re-christened in Kraft World! I am also interested in exploring the
idea of donating some pieces of my collection to the Walt Disney Family Museum.