Who dosen’t like to go to the movies? I know prices for the snacks are outrageous when you can get them for at least three times less at the gas station. The lines are also a pain and so is all the crap you get for the first fifteen minutes of the show, (But I do enjoy the film trailers). Well I guess we all could wait for Redbox to release the film for a buck or get Netflix. However some movies are almost forgotten as soon as they are made. Of course we’ve got our cult classics, b-movies, midnight movies and art films, but we have also have films so bad they probably should stay forgotten but we can’t because they are so bad ( I’m talking to YOU, M. Night Shyamalan’s “Last Airbender”). We do have some gems so rare they are hardly known and only the super nerdiest of nerds, geeks and film buffs can find, providing that they know what they are looking for. Which leads us to the almost unknown genuineness of Mike Jittlov.
Mike was born in Los Angeles on June 8, 1948. He became a math-language major at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and took an animation class to satisfy the art requirement. He made a number of short films specializing in stop motion, rotoscoping and pixilation, works that still look impressive for its time. His work won a number of awards and Academy Award nominations and even caught the eyes of the Walt Disney Company. There he created the shorts “The Collector” and its sequel “Mouse Mania” for Mickey’s 50th, a two hour special in 1978, celebrating the world famous mouse’s’ golden anniversary. “Mouse Mania” featured the first stop motion of Mickey Mouse and over one thousand Disney toys dancing in a psychiatrist’s office, with Mike Jittlov as the patient, to the tune “Baroque Hoedown,” the theme to the Disney’s Electrical Parade. The following year Jittlov worked on another project, a three minute short for another Disney special Major Effect entitled “The Wizard of Speed and Time.” In the short it…well…you know what, maybe it’s better if I just show you…
Just blows you away the first time you see it. Right? I mean, I can not describe how I felt when I first saw this. I learned about it in a documentary and looked forever to find it. Then, after many years, almost giving up on looking for the Wizard until, “BAM!” I discovered Youtube and experienced the magic for myself. But if you think that was amazing you should see what Mike had up his green robed sleeve. This…
Yep, in 1989 Mike Jittlov created a full fledged 95 minute movie based on the three minute short he created ten years ago. In this film Mike Jittlov played himself, a brilliant, eccentric but unknown jack of all movie trades trying to get his big break in showbiz, despite his talent he is non union and is constantly under attack from by the book, arrogant, money-grubbing bureaucrats out to steal or destroy his work. Mike also directed, wrote, and produced special and visual effects for the movie, among other things. A number of big named (well sort of) stars appeared in the film like Steve Brodie, Philip Michael Thomas of “Miami Vice” and “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” fame, voice actor Will Ryan and Stephen Stucker. Music was done by John Massari, who also created the soundtrack for “Killer Klowns from Outer Space,” and Russell Carpenter worked on cinematography. He later worked on big name films including “Titanic,” “Charlie’s Angels” and “Shallow Hal.” There was even a cameo of Ward Kimball, award winning animator and on of Walt Disney’s core animators the “Nine Old Men.” I just love this film, five out of five star entertainment at its best.
Sadly “The Wizard” was not released in theaters for very long and only appeared in a selected areas. It has been released on VHS and LaserDisc, but not on an official DVD, and has mostly great reviews at about every website I found about it. There is a created DVD image file made by fans that Mike is aware of and supports that is available on peer to peer networks until an official is released and the complete movie and others of his works are available on Youtube for your entertaining pleasure.
The question that Jittlov fans all over the world (all ten dozen of them) ask is what happens next? Where is our Wizard in the robe of Green? To tell you the truth he pretty much remained a mystery. He was a fairly common visitor at conventions during the nineties. He worked as a special effects technician on the blockbuster film “Ghost” and played was the voice of Han Solo in the fan film “Darth Vader’s Psychic Hotline,” and was was an early internet user creating his own website:http://www.wizworld.com/ but it REALLY needs an update. From what I’ve heard Mike gave up making movies due to the bad luck he had with the limited release “The Wizard,” and not getting much money from the video release. Lately has moved back in with his mother to look after her in her old age. Hardly anyone know of him. Where are the Wizard of Speed and Time fanarts or cosplayers at Comic Con? Still even if he never creates another film again and despite being barely known, I still see him as a renaissance man and genius who helped bring stop motion to new levels and hop with this article more people will start appreciating that wonderful green Wizard of Hollywood, and as Mike sometimes says, “May all your fine wishes and good dreams come true”.