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An Afternoon of Rememberance – Peter Keefe March 6, 2011

Posted by shannonmuir in animation, Memoir, Mentorship.

Every year, professionals and fans from across animation gather at the Hollywood Heritage Museum (also known as the DeMille-Lansky Barn, since the converted barn served as the first movie studio in Hollywood in 1913) to remember people from all professions across the industry that have passed.  Where possible, they try to find speakers for each individual on the list.  This event is cosponsored by the Animation Guild, ASIFA-Hollywood, and Women in Animation.

Before this year, I’d never attended the event, and I think just heard of it once.  An animation writer I’d met through a well respected mutual friend contacted me and asked if I would speak on behalf of Peter Keefe, whose impact on my life I’ve written in past blogs.  Ever since I came to Los Angeles, I’ve always been at war with the “fan” and “pro” sides of myself.  There were incidents that occurred that made me feel people took me less seriously as a pro because I’d become so well known in the fan community.

That said, I was very honored to be asked, but questioned if there might be someone more appropriate that really knew him.  Assured I’d be a fit, I agreed to go ahead with it, even though also admittedly I’m a nervous public speaker.  I will say from experience it’s easier to moderate panels where other people do the talking than do it myself!

So I went up and gave my well worked over speech, with rewrites up to the almost the last minute, made twenty-five years to the month (maybe even the week) since I received my response back from Head Writer Marc Handler.   I wanted to keep it very balanced between a bio of his work and what happened to me, and not make it look like I was hogging the podium just to talk about me.  I have a big hangup about being perceived liek that.  In addition, the speech was taped, and despite my radio-tv background cameras make me nervous too!  That said, I think it’s good it was captured on tape.  Since it was the ASIFA crew I presume it’s intended for the animation archive library but not completely sure.   Based on all the stories I heard that day I sincerely hope it is.

As I said, I’ve often felt split by my “fan” side and my “professional” side, but after yesterday this is something I no longer feel. Standing in a group of professionals, acknowledging my own transition thanks to Peter’s Keefe’s action from one to the other, brought about a healing and wholeness of its own.  To be asked by pros to speak about an event that happened when I was a fan, and how I am now a pro, thanks to one action of Peter Keefe, brought about a healing and catharsis of its own.

The speech ended with me quoting my favorite VOLTRON line, delivered by Lance: “Every night I used to count the stars… I never dreamed I’d be flying among them.”  Lance is played by Michael Bell, a versatile voice actor whose work I respect immensely.  So I sit down expecting the MC to introduce the next guest when someone else walks up the aisle, the first time two people have spoken on a person.  To my absolute surprise, it is Michael Bell (at which point, while totally caught up in his story of meeting Peter Keefe once at a recording session, am having the ultimate fangirl moment in  my head)!

Michael came back up a couple people later to speak about whom he came to speak about, and was gone by intermission… given we ran two hours over projection that’s to be expected.  He did reach out and give me a friendly high five as he came back down the aisle though, and I thank him for that.  If he hadn’t helped make Lance a character that resonated with me, along with the writers of the show, I wouldn’t have been inspired to write about and create Nina to be his female equal and love interest for my sister and I to then craft stories around.  Then there would never have been anything to try and send to World Events Productions and Peter Keefe, and I probably would not be writing to you right now.  Thank you for coming up, Michael Bell, even though you came to speak for another departed friend.  That meant a lot to me and I think the others there as well.

Again, I say, thank you Peter Keefe – for everything.






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