Monday, December 5, 2011


I got word yesterday that my very first mentor in animation,
Vincent Cafarelli,
has passed away.

A true veteran of New York Animation,
he was the guy who gave me my first job.
(along with Buzzco Associates partners Candy Kugel and Marilyn Kraemer)
I've told you the story of how I got started at Buzzco before,
but I never told you that Buzzco always had champagne around.
This stuff, to be exact.

In the middle of the studio was a mini fridge,
the freezer of which was completely iced over
except for two holes we called the torpedo tubes.
Every day around 5:00pm, Vince would shout:


That was my call to put two bottles of champagne in the freezer.
Work would carry on for a while
until inevitably another shout would come from the back of the studio:


So I'd get some paper cups,
pop open a bottle,
and pour some for everyone in the studio.
It was a great way to end the work day.
But it wasn't over for Vinnie and I yet.

would occur after everyone else had gone home.
That's when I got to sit at the feet of the master.
We'd park ourselves at the conference table and Vince would say,
"Alright! Today we learn about exposure sheets!"
"Let me show ya how to animate a fun walk cycle!"

We often just sat around talking about animation.
He told stories about his days in the business.
About the studios he worked at and the animators he knew.
And we talked alot about my future.
Vinnie always told me I was going to be great.
He always had this crazy faith in me.
I loved him for that.

I was at Buzzco for less than a year.
There wasn't enough work to keep me around.
As I've mentioned before,
animation work is sporadic so you're always moving around.
But I still saw Vince often.
ASIFA-EAST meetings were held at Buzzco every month.
And he'd show up for the occasional party or screening.
Sometimes I'd just stop in to say hi.
(but never often enough, which I always kicked myself for)

Now Vinnie's gone.
He was 81 years old but wasn't sick or anything.
He was just doing what he always did.
After work last Thursday
Candy asked Vince if he wanted to hit Veselka for some soup.
He declined and said he was tired.
He went home.
He went to bed.
And never woke up.

I got the news from Candy this morning and have been heartbroken all day.
I've cried 17 times while writing this.
But I know something that'll make me feel a little better.

"Fire one, Vinnie."

I don't wanna put words in the guys mouth,
but I'd like to think that if Vince knew he was leaving us,
his face would have broken into that big Italian grin,
and he would have said the same thing
he said almost every time I saw him:


Much love, Vince.
I miss you already.

If you want to learn more about the man and his work,
Michael Sporn wrote up a wonderful post over at his blog.
Check it out HERE.


Anonymous said...

I am very sorry for your loss Mr. W. I know it's hard to loose a friend and mentor who meant so much to you. At least, you have all the happy memories and even more so, the LESSONS he taught you to keep him with you. Lessons you might even get to pass to the next generation of young animators one day. If you pass his torch for him, your friend will live on forever.

Candy Kugel said...

Tom-o-thee!! Vince was laid to rest this morning. He loved you too. We will be celebrating his life in an Open House, Ephiphany, here at Buzzco. The Freixenet will be chilling and we will hear him say "Whattah party!"

Mariana =] said...

I'm sorry Mr. W, It must be hard to loose a friend, a mentor and at the same time someone who believed in you since the start. But don't worry, he is resting in peace now and will always be around, at least, in your heart. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr. W, I'm sorry about your mentor. It's always hard to loose your pal but atleast you'll have him in your memories and in your heart.

David B. Levy said...

Very sorry, Tom. As soon as I heard of this news, right after I thought of Buzzco, I thought of you. I knew how much Vinnie and his lessons meant to you. Big hugs for you from me!