"A good premise always generates the most astonishing results."
Chuck Jones and Creativity
It's easy to watch cartoons like this and take for granted the question, "What makes a good cartoon? How does the person come up with such ideas?" Indeed, is creativity like this innate, or accessible to all of us?
At Warner Brothers, after agreeing on a basic story line, Chuck Jones said a meeting - a story session - would be called, attended by three directors, three writers, the production chief, and the producer. This was "The Jam Session".
The "Yes" Session
The "Jam" session was, I believe, an event unique to Warner Bros. Unique at that time, perhaps anytime. Because this was not a brainstorming session in the usual sense, it was a "yes" session, not an "anything goes" session. Anything went, but only if it was positive, supportive, and affirmative to the premise. No negatives were allowed. If you could not contribute, you kept quiet. For want of a better term, I have always called it ... THE "YES" SESSION. Again, the "yes" session is not a brainstorming session; repeat, it is not a session in which anything goes. The purpose is to advance an idea or ideas, not an emotional outburst for the emotional benefit of the participants or as a story man's confession of a buried affair with a girl's track shoe. The "yes" session only has one objective: to write a story.
The "yes" session imposes only one discipline: the abolition of the word "no." Anyone can say "no." It is the first word a child learns and often the first word he speaks. It is a cheap word because it requires no explanation, and many men and women have acquired a reputation for intelligence who know only this word and have used it in place of thought on every person who can only say "no" finds it an eternity. Negative-minded people have been known to finally inflate and burst with accumulated negatives and say something positive, because it is also true that a person who heretofore can only say "no" is also a person who must say something.
A "no" is defined as any negative: "I don't like it." "There must be a better way." "I don't like to criticize, but ..." "I've heard that one before." "I don't know." Or: ""Oh, for Christ's sake, Chuck." All are roadblocks impeding the advancement and exploration of the value of an idea and are forbidden.
Of course, all story ideas are not good or useful, and if you find you cannot contribute, then silence is proper, but it is surprising how meaty and muscular a little old stringy "yes" (which is another name for a premise) can become in as little as fifteen or twenty minutes, when everyone present unreservedly commits his immediate impulsive and positive response to it. And, of course, the enlightened self-interest of pouring your contributions unreservedly out in another director's story session is sufficient motivation; your turn will inevitably come to present an idea to the group in another session, and at such a time you, too, will want, need, and expect full cooperation. A good premise always generates the most astonishing results.
by Chuck Jones
HELLO MY BABY
Hello, my baby,
Hello, my honey,
Hello, my ragtime gal!
Send me a kiss by wire;
Baby my heart's on fire!
If you refuse me,
Honey, you'll lose me,
Then you'll be left alone;
Oh, baby, telephone,
And tell me I'm your own.
Steven Spielberg called One Froggy Evening "the Citizen Kane of animated film." It was voted #5 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field. The United States Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. (wikipedia)