Jimmi Murakami (from a speech in Coláiste Dhúlaigh in 2018)

It’s very fitting that Coláiste Dhúlaigh should include as part of their end of year show, story boards and other film pre-production material from the hand of Jimmy Murakami. Jimmy Murakami always reached out to young film makers and in particular young animators. He was delighted too that Coláiste Dhúlaigh took him up on his offer to look after this important archival material and keep it safe in the college

On display are projects which achieved ‘take off’ and others which didn’t. It’s a useful lesson to people beginning their careers at an end of year show like this one to be aware that even successful film makers like Jimmy didn’t have it easy.

Indeed when I meet Jimmy Murakami in 1985 at the Annecy international animation festival, I was myself starting out in the business. Jimmy treated me like a professional which meant a lot to some one like me with just one year’s experience. He began to tell me that how hard it was to get films funded, “we are always struggling” he said. By saying “we” he meant me too. Jimmy treated every one equal - It was part of his charm. The project he was struggling with at the time was “When the Wind Blows” (1986) which of course he did direct in the end and is the feature film he is probably most most associated with. I hadn’t made my first short film yet.

Jimmy always believed that “storyboards are the most important part of making a film successful”. He said that to me that same evening in Annecy. And I heard him say it again and again over the years. The storyboards on view here include ‘Sandpiper’ 2008 - a Frameworks award short film - ‘Christmas Carol: the Movie’ from 2001 and ‘Oi! Get Off Our Train’. Also there are boards from ‘The Egg’ one of those projects that didn’t make it to the screen.

Jimmy was a true internationalist. He grew up in California, spent time in Japan and Italy, did a spell in London before making Ireland his home and raising a family here with his partner in life - his wife Eithna. London was a fruitful place for Jimmy where he was part of the T.V Cartoon studio established by George Dunning. There Jimmy worked as supervising animation director on the ‘The Snowman’, perhaps the most famous T.V. short animation of all time.

In Dublin he set up his own studio in in Irishtown making ad’s, his own shorts as well as working on ad’s and T.V. series for British companies. In this studio Irish animators like Alastair McIlwain and Tim Booth honed their craft. Of course the studio in Dublin he’s best known for is Murakami Wolf Films, which he set up with his old friend and colleague Fred Wolf from Los Angeles. This was the studio which in 1987 gave the world ‘Teenage Mutant Turtles’.

No one can complete an intro about Jimmy Murakami without mentioning the war. In 1942 Jimmy along his mother, brother and sister - all American citizens - and his father were interned in an army prison camp because they were Japanese Americans. Something that didn’t happen to German Americans or Italian Americans. We saw in the documentary by Sé Merry Doyle ‘Jimmy Murakami: Non Alien’ (2010) the hurt of his country caused, denying him his rights never left Jimmy. Which is the reason why I believe - to bring me back to my earlier point - he treated everyone as an equal.

Especially young people starting off in film.