Danforth’s first job in the professional film industry was as a sculptor and artist for clay-animation pioneer Art Clokey, who had previously produced the beloved children’s series Gumby during the 1950s.
Danforth was then hired by a company known as Project Unlimited and assisted a team of effects technicians on George Pal’s celebrated 1960 feature-length science-fiction film, The Time Machine (1960) Working with two other animators and a team of artists and technicians at Project Unlimited, Danforth did the model-animation effects for the fantasy film Jack the Giant Killer (1962) and to animate the dragon in The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962).
In 1963, Danforth was hired by special visual effects pioneer Linwood G. Dunn to animate miniature versions of the comedians in Stanley Kramer’s all-star comedy, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
While still at Projects Unlimited, Danforth was again hired by George Pal to do model animation for 7 Seven Faces of Dr. Lao(1964). Danforth garnered his first Oscar nomination for his work animating the shape-shifting Loch Ness Monster near the end of the film. (The film lost to Disney’sMary Poppins.)
In the late 1960s, Danforth aided fledgling film maker Dennis Muren with the making of Equinox in 1970. Danforth appeared as several ‘extras’ in the film and lent a hand animating cells, painting mattes, and constructing sets and equipment, but did none of the film’s stop-motion animation (handled by Dave Allen and Dennis Muren).
England’s Hammer Films hired Danforth to animate the dinosaurs inWhen Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970). Danforth refined the ability of his dinosaur models to realistically convey emotions. The film merited Danforth a second Oscar effects nomination, but lost to Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1970).
Next, Danforth was hired to create the visual effects for the spoof comedy starring ex-Beatle Ringo Starr, Caveman (1981). Danforth designed the dinosaurs and directed the live-action scenes in which the dinosaurs would appear, but the hands-on animation was done by David Allen, Randy Cook and Pete Kleinow. Danforth left the project “about two-thirds of the way.”
Then Danforth returned to England to assist on Ray Harryhausen’s last film, Clash of the Titans (1981). Danforth animated portions of the Kraken and two-headed wolf sequences and most of the Pegasus scenes.
During the late 1980s and early 1990, Danforth was involved with the John Carpenter films Body Bags, They Live,[Prince of Darkness, and Memoirs of an Invisible Man, supplying, depending on the productions’s needs, matte paintings, optical effects, stop motion animation, and second-unit direction.
Throughout the 1990s, Danforth has kept a somewhat lower profile, mainly providing matte paintings and supervising composite matte work on scores of films, a continuation of his matte work on films going back into the 1960s. Danforth continues to live and work in the general Los Angeles area and is currently doing fine-art and fantasy-genre paintings.
Stop motion and miniature Filmography:
1994 Dragonworld (animator)
1993 Robot Wars (additional stop-motion)
1993 Bogy Bags (TV Movie) (animator – uncredited)
1973 Jonathan Livingston Seagull (animator – matte supervisor)
1971 Diamonds are forever (model animator: submarine – uncredited)
1971 Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (model animator: Wonkavator – uncredited)
1970 When dinosaurs ruled the earth (special visual effects- Animation supervisor)
1970 ITV Saturday Night Theatre (TV Series) (animation producer – 1 episode)
1968 The Gumby Show (TV Series) (animator – 2 episodes)
1968 Here’s Lucy (TV Series) (animator: “Lucy” puppet, main title)
1966 Around the World Under the Sea (miniature crew -scenic artist – uncredited)
1965 The War Lord (model maker – uncredited)
1965 That Funny Feeling (animator – uncredited) / (matte artist – uncredited)
1965 Strange Bedfellows (model maker – uncredited)
1964 Father Goose (miniature maker – uncredited)
1964 I’d Rather Be Rich (animator – uncredited)
1964 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (special visual effects) / (stop-motion animator – uncredited)
1963 It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (miniature maker – stop-motion animator)
1963–1965 The Outer Limits ((special photographic effects)
1962The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm” (stop-motion animator)
1962 Jack the Giant Killer (stop-motion animator – uncredited)
1962 Journey to the Seventh Planet (stop-motion animator: cyclops – uncredited)
1961 Flight of the Lost Balloon (stop-motion animator – uncredited)
1961 Atlantis, the Lost Continen (stop-motion animator – uncredited)
1961 Master of the World(miniature maker – uncredited)
1960 The Time Machine (assistant animator – uncredited)
1960 Davey and Goliath (TV Series) (animator – 5 episodes)
1960 Goliath and the dragon- La vendetta di Ercole (stop-motion animator)
1959 The Dinah Shore Chevy Show (TV Series) (animator – 2 episodes)
For matte painting works of Jim Danforth see: http://bigerboat.com/indexfx/?p=507