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Joop Geesink the Power puppet of Dollywood (1961)

Joop Geesink knows how to play people and puppets.

This article from the REVUE gives a nice impression of the way the Dutch press looks up at the successful businessman/ film magnate.

Pag. 23 Joop Geesink, Still from Piccolo, Saxo & Co

Click on none of the images to enlarge in a new window. 

 Opperpop 1961  Opperpop 1961-4

(Subscript - street-scene)  For every second of film the puppets need to change position twenty four times. For the total image of a street this means, two men had an hour of work each take, to adjust people and cars.

Button-back02 Opperpop 1961-2+3

Pictures: Page 24/25 Collage from various commercials Ballantines Beer. (Editor's Note: this is not especially set up for the collage, as the editor of Revue writes. It's a collage from two different commercials for this beer brand).
Page 26 Behind the scenes at Story Of Light, An unknown employee to the left, to the right: Cor Icke     

Following the text in HTML.

Joop Geesink the Power puppet of Dollywood

JOOP GEESINK would successfully star himself in one of his colorful puppet animations. He is a round man; with a round character and also round in terms of figure. He is amicable, he laughs a lot and his face shows the same pleasant expression Oliver Hardy showed when in his best moods in his movies. One can easily make a playful looking puppet from Geesink’s image. All other puppets would show admiration and honor for this “star-puppet”, because the successes in his life followed each other in a fast pace as the images on a filmstrip. “Dollywood”is what Joop Geesink and his brother Wim call the film studio full of activity and where they are the proud chiefs of board. Joop only rarely sits behind the massive desk in the boardroom of Dollywood. He travels across the world with laughter, busy gestures, bravura, seriousness, sucking on big cigars and negotiating with captains of industry about the construction of his famous commercials. His sales qualities are not insignificant. He spoke enthusiastically to an Italian industrialist about his plan: manufacturing puppet animation, based on the exciting adventures of the count of Monte Christo. Joop chatted and chatted. The Italian was moderate, but his gestures revived medieval times, he fenced with clear words and gestures, The Italian looking puzzled. But finally the industrial understood Joops intentions. "Nice idea." the Italian said, "but, ehm... I have never heard of the count de Monte Christo.. ". 

Joop Geesink felt as disappointed as a football player, who wants to score the winning goal, but kicks against a flat football. The disappointment was unnecessary. Joops quick gestures, his enthusiasm and his many words made a big impression on the industrialist. Without hesitating he said yes to making this puppet animation Dollywoods "Head - puppeteer" had just made another success.

Above: Joop Geesink, the Head-puppeteer of Dollywood, clearly shows he knows the ropes. His field of activity: the world.
Below: A snippet from a commercial that lasted 30 minutes for Philips. These instruments from the symphonic orchestra are playing themselves.

Sets for Parisian palaces

Joop Geesink speaks Dutch with a sing-song accent, within which inhabitants from The Hague can reveal their descent to their Dutch fellow citizens. In the chic residence his stunning career started. Joop was a virtuoso designer and established, still before his twentieth birthday, a private company on the Spui, that extends itself right in the Centre of the Hague. He did this with his brother Wim. The brothers manufactured the colourful placards and posters that adorned cinema hall facades: wide-shouldered men who rescue narrow-shouldered ladies from the gaping mouths of crocodiles and other very eloquent scenes, which already revealed the tantalizing contents of the movies in advance.

But crafting these masterpieces could not satisfy Joop in the long run, he wanted to achieve more. Therefore Joop Geesink designed sets for large-scale shows. For his sets, the legs of revue girls stretched far up and there were sketches, in which the revue-comedians did their utmost to offend each other to everyone's entertainment. Joop designed the sets so talenten, he was invited to design the sets for the Folies Bergère, the famous casino in Paris. These were honourable assignments, because the managers of these entertainment palaces examined the legs of the charming dansers just as careful as they checked the decoration of the setting.
Joop passed every hard test splendidly. Het returned to the Netherlands to accomplish the evenly important national assignments. Joop designed the set for one of the rare pre-war movies “de Spooktrein”(Haunted train), in which Jan Mus starred. He also founded a advertising agency, where eight employees did their best to support “master Joop” in his ideas and business activities. The group of employees augmented to one hundred and fifty employees, who now take their place at the desks at Dollywood.

Future plans

The second World war reduced Joops advertising agency. He took residence in a dusty workshop in Amsterdam and filled his large amounts of free time by “playing” with the camera, a few lights and a handful of puppets. This way he made his first puppet animation during this tough period. This animation was the first in a series of cinematic puppet adventures, that many visitors of cinema’s throughout the world would could enjoy. In 1945, by the end of the war, Joop was freed from his dusty workplace and was ready to pick up his exciting life. He travelled to the headquarters of the American army in Brussels and soon was named lieutenant and organized shows and magnificent parties. He also designed sets for the travelling army-shows that paraded through the European cities. During the parties and the popping of corks of champagne bottles, Jop Geesink dreamed of a new audacious plan; setting up his own filmstudio. In 1946 on the muddy banks of the Duivendrechtsekade in Amsterdam a small building arose. “Dollywood” the dashing sign said on the facade. No, fourteen years later, Dollywood has become a small Hollywood. Around the “Dollywood avenue” one finds a colourful collection of studio’s, warehouses and offices. Every once in a while, you will see Joop Geesink, who thinks the future matters more than the past. With a spread of words like the firing of a machine gun and his busy gestures, ever changing expressions and the occasional slap with his chubby fist on the table, he can talk on and on about that future.

“The television”, het proclaims, “gave Dollywood the upward move it needed”, people beg for good commercials for television. I have to expand, I keep expanding. I will soon open offices and studios in other countries, in Rome and Vienna and later in other world cities. In three years we’ll experience a "big boom", a peak, television will demand an endless flow of television commercials. I’m already preparing for this. Whether or not the Netherlands will start with commercial television? I am sure about that. Good television is nothing without the support of commercials. I should know, because I study foreign programmes on television. Sometimes I spend eight hours a day in front of the screen, when I am in American hotels. It is exhausting, but instructive.

Film for Life

During is World travels, Joop Geesink can be seen as a broad focussed businessman. Ask any Dutch businessman how many prizes his products have received and many will look at you blank, flabbergasted and unwilling. But not Joop Geesink. “The price of my most expensive film, you want to know? Oké: a half a million guilders. I made the film for Life, the American magazine with a circulation of many millions. What a movie! The origin of life on earth was displayed. A mighty task. My cheapest film? Two and a half thousand guilders.” This al told by Joop Geesink without any restraint.

Because of the production of televisionmovies, the production of puppet animation has become less important for Dollywood. Television commercials are short, the movements of the puppets are too slow to explain the message of the commercial to the viewers. Therefore no more puppets. Joop Geesink and his assistants therefore play more with industrial machines than with dolls. An industry that wants to make their hand-manufactured product, placed in a manageable box, popular for the screens. The developers of Dollywood examine the box, pick it up, lay it down and put it in front of them, let it make walking movements; they talk about the box, nod approving and disapproving and the idea ripens during their long meetings. The box turns into a parading soldier and steps dapper along a line of waving banners, left-right, left-right, to the tones of marching music.
Suddenly the lid of the box opens (or the mouth of the parading soldier). Loudly the package calls out the slogan on his belly with het lid/mouth opening and closing widely as it does so. And thousands of housewifes decide – as experience has shown -, to order such a package the next day. The relevant product marches into living rooms "with flying colors".

Award sample chart

To see the recording of commercials with puppets or boxes (or whatever) as actors is for the layman a curious experience. The Dollywood filmcrew must possess endless patience!
The only hand large dolls let the spectators in the cinema believe, that they really walk, swing their arms, kneel. laugh, eat and talk. A film is built up image after image; for just one second of film, a puppet, box or whatever needs to change position twenty-four times. Three thousand images together form sixty meters of film. A puppet animation of three minutes means three month of hard work. The Dollywood employees represent a rich diversity of jobs: copywriters, illustrators, art directors (director), animators (they define the movements of the puppets) set designers, puppet carvers, hairdressers, costume designers, metalworkers, woodworkers, painters, blacksmiths, carpenters, welders, decorators, electricians, sound technicians and lab technicians.
Besides the permanent employment also composers, musicians and commentators from all countries play their part to make the Dollywood-movies a success. There are about forty films constantly in production for customers from Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Italy, England, America, Canada, Belgium, Austria and Latin America. The advertising agency has sixteen cameras. Per day a camera records one and a half metres with usable film. To each camera belongs a “unit” of workers, led by the art director. In a unit there are a cameraman and his assistant, an animator, a lighting technician, and a young man (the stage-boy), who must be on his toes to react on the wishes of the other unit-members; a jack-of –all-trades. Dollywood films obtained over sixty awards. Recently, Joop Geesink, received the Coup de Venice a wonderful trophy and for a producer of commercials the highest award imaginable. Of the fifteen by Joop Geesink submitted movies. There were no less than seven crowned.

All the walls of the Dollywood boardroom together form the " award sample chart", a long range of medals, plaques and written eulogies are the proof of Geesink’s many successes on the film festivals.
Joop Geesink has many awards, thanks to its wealth in ideas. Once he had to show an English sponsor a concept of a film. Considering the bad quality of the concept (red marker stripes, crossed out parts of tekst, etc.), Joop Geesink wanted to prepare his sponsor for this bad quality in a diplomatic way. But how? Suddenly he got an idea.
“Consider me as a tailor”, Joop said. “You must do a first fitting. The costume has no lapels, no buttons and it still has white stitching. Well, my concept is like a costume during the first fitting”. The Brit saw the copy and looked at it sceptically. When the film was finished, het send a telegram with the next joyful message: “Costume fits perfectly. Thank you! Think about a summer suit. "








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