Gerald McDermott
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                 Still from Arrow to the Sun                      
1974 Gerald McDermott

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View Gerald McDermott's Anansi the Spider, Arrow to the Sun Magic Tree, Stonecutter and  Sun Flight

Note: Gerald McDermott passed away on December 26, 2012. View Harrison Engle's 20 minute tribute to Gerald's life.

Born on January 31, 1941, Gerald McDermott began experimenting with film as an extracurricular activity while attending Detroit's Cass Technical High School. His first film, Hello My Baby, was made in high school with fellow student and eventual filmmaker Harrison Engle, with whom he remained lifelong friends. Along with Engle, he made his first commercial film, Stonecutter, at the age of 19, an extremely complex animation short featuring 6000 animation cels presented in six minutes. Influenced by Klee and Matisse, McDermott used silk-screen and traditional painting techniques in crafting ethnographic folk tale animation shorts. Traveling to Paris, he introduced himself to Henri Langlois at the Cinémathèque Française, who in turn sent him to Alexandre Alexeieff, master of the 'pinscreen' (a frame holding thousands of retractable pins which, when struck perpendicular light from each side, would produce a three dimensional image based on the manner in which the pins were pushed from the opposite side of the viewer). Returning to the US, the filmmaker attended Pratt Institute in New York, and began doing animation for several of Julien and Sam Bryan's International Film Foundation titles (e.g. Ancient Peruvian, 1968).  McDermott's films have an international flavor, several of which are enhanced by accented narrator Athmani Magoma, and ethnically-influenced composer Thomas Wagner.  Due primarily to the career change to writing full-time, his filmography  consists of only six films, all of which are under 12 minutes in length. After his last film, McDermott turned to illustrating children's books, for which he won the Caldecott Award as outstanding illustrator for both 'Anansi the Spider' and 'Arrow to the Sun'. McDermott makes a brief appearance in Morton Schindel's From Page to Screen (1981), reading in the studio for an animated version of Arrow to the Sun.

In addition to writing and illustrating children's books, McDermott served as Primary Education Program Director for the Joseph Campbell Foundation.  Gerald was a prolific author, and we invite you to visit his website at:  for a list of his books.

McDermott's films include:

Stonecutter (1960) 6m
Sun Flight: The Myth of Daedalus and His Son, Icarus (1966) 6m (non-narrated)
Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti (1969) 10m
Moments Spent
(1969) 4m. A promotional film made for the band "Wind in the Willows." The back up singer (who appears in the film) was Debbie Harry, who later fronted the band "Blondie."
Magic Tree, The: A Tale from the Congo (1970) 10m
Arrow to the Sun: A Pueblo Indian Tale (1973) 12m
Flight of Icarus: The Myth of Daedalus and His Son, Icarus (1974, narrated version of the film 'Sun Flight')

An informative book has been written on McDermott's filmmaking, writing, and illustrating work, Gerald McDermott and You (2004, ISBN 1-59158-175-3) by Jon C. Stott, ordering information at:


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