FAQ -- Interview with David Paul Kirkpatrick
1. As a former Studio President who oversaw films such as Top Gun and Flashdance, describe the power of the screen to affect culture.
With Top Gun, the Navy stopped spending marketing dollars for recruiting for five years – men and women joined the Navy in droves. Top Gun unintentionally became their recruitment campaign. Flashdance made sweats and gym wear acceptable in the street. It created a revolution in fashion. That which is the screen changes everything – we mirror lines, ways of thinking, what we wear on our legs - as a result of screens.
Mickey Mouse in Fantasia. The sky is either aspirational
2. What is the inspiration behind The Address of Happiness?
Disney's Fantasia had a significant impact on the style of The Address of Happiness. I never realized it until I was interviewed the other day by Marlene Sharp, who covers animation for the Examiner. One of my teachers at California institute of the Arts was the famous Jules Engel. When Jules worked at Disney Studios, he oversaw the production of the groundbreaking animated feature, Fantasia.
As the head of animation at Cal Arts, Jules screened the picture many times, guiding its transformation into an iconic work of animated art. The film's narrative was bound up inside it's music and morphing musical instruments. Time and place were disposed of in Fantasia for the sake of the spirit of the music. The film consisted of eight animated segments, setting its stories against the classical music conducted by Leopold Stolowski; seven of which are performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Jules Engel at California Institute Of The Arts
Of course, in The Address of Happiness, Music is the metaphor for God. The two souls of whom this story is about meet in a dimension where “time is not known” prior to being born into earth. Here, “the music rises” and everything expands to the music.
I have to say that the little book I just wrote, The Address of Happiness, which deals with love, time, earth and heaven would not have been written had it not been my experience with Jules Engel, Walt Disney and CalArts. If you look at the book, you can see the antecedents of Fantasia throughout. Music is a main character in the story, just as it is in Fantasia. Everything influences everything else. Disney's influence on The Address of Happiness is significant.
As I grow older, and hopefully wiser, I am truly surprised how the dots of our youth are connected to the dots of our maturity — and for me, I see the great hand of Music in it all!
Luck is random. This existential experience, from my vantage point is not. Everything happens for a reason.
3. What drove you to write the book?
The letter De Profundis by Oscar Wilde. The celebrated writer wrote it in the Wandsworth jail in 1897. He was imprisoned by the British courts for “gross indecency” – for being “gay”. His letter was a cry for understanding. Wilde was both a Christian and a homosexual – the letter outlined his harrowing struggle. Wilde portrayed Jesus as the ultimate artist – Jesus used his body as the canvas – his blood as the paint, his resurrection of his own body as the sweetest third act ever written. When Wilde got out of jail, the church rejected him – he was considered unredeemable. Broken-hearted, Wilde died penniless and alone in France a few years later. I sensed Wilde’s heart, just as I sensed Vincent van Gogh, a Christian who was also rejected by the church. These two men, their writings and their works, changed my perception, made me understand the overwhelming power of God’s grace and his love. It was wounded artists and their work that drove me to write The Address of Happiness.
4. The audience in mind, what reaction are you looking for?
I am hopeful that the book will lead to thoughtful reflection. I would hope that people look at The Address of Happiness and consider a fresh way of looking at our God-given design. The book is very clear: it takes the position that love is a God-given gift. To many, that concept is profound, to others revolutionary. The book takes the view that fate is an expression of our unique, personal design. Our destiny is defined by how we show up, how we become what God has designed us to be. If we choose to wrapper our design with love than we are living up to the supreme message of faith: to love, to judge not, but to love.
I love the line from Mother Teresa, “If you love people, you have no time to judge them.”
5. What is your advice for aspiring storytellers?
You must practice, practice, and practice more. You can not become really good unless you practice the craft. I believe in the 10,000-hour theory that Malcolm Gladwell put forward in Outliers - you must study hard and consistently inside a discipline to conquer it. What does practice mean in storytelling? Reading the classics, watching the classics, immersing yourself in great storytelling so that you can cultivate your own original voice. A great storyteller has a unique voice and you can only become unique by understanding in your gut the work of those who have come before you.