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Hamilton Billy Greene

Obituary Condolences

HAMILTON BILLY GREENE - an award winning filmmaker, animator and percussionist died early morning Monday, September 10, 2001 from a gunshot wound suffered as a result of a midnight assault at his apartment entrance in Emeryville. He was 33. Born March 19, 1968 in New York City and rised in Burlington, Vermont, Billy's artistic activity reflected his child-like innocence, subtle humor and off-handed modesty. He excelled at stop-motion animation, translating his acute observation of movement and character into the telling gestures of the beings he brought to life; he had a genius for getting miraculous effects from the simplest means. Humorous touches and subtle shadings of mood and atmosphere characterized his animating work, which was becoming increasingly influential among his peers. Billy's independently produced short animated film "Thought Bubble" features a harmonica-playing homeless man as its main character and premiered at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah this spring where attendees praised its poetic qualities. The film has since been showing regularly in film festivals world-wide, notably at France's Annency International Animation Festival and this year's New York Film Festival. His earlier movie "Malfunction" was selected to be among the openers at San Francisco's 1998 Film Arts Festival of Independent Cinema, and later in the Slamdance Festival, also in Park City. His production company, of which he was a founding member, bears the name Octopus Ink. Billy began his professional career with 181 Productions in New York City, which specialized in children's programming and he gained further expertise animating commercials for Clayart Trickfilm Studio in Frankfurt, Germany. For the past several years he worked in Portland, Oregon as a senior animator on The PJ's, Will Vinton Studio's nationally-syndicated animated television series which was the brainchild of Eddie Murphy. He had recently returned to the Bay Area to animate for "Phantom Investigators", a Wholesome Products production for Warner Brothers Television. Billy attended Putney School in Vermont and was a 1991 graduate of Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. In addition to his film-making skills, he was a passioante and dedicated percussionist; among his numerous musical projects was the San Francisco band "Poltroon". He recently became interested in Brazilian samba drumming participated in the 2000 Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro, and for the past few years performed with Portland's Brazilian samba marching band "Lions of Batucada." Billy had a remarkably sunny and generous personality. Throughout his life he was a loving soul and the light of his parents', and many other people's lives. His perceptiveness, gentleness and unique sense of humor will live forever in his art works and in the hearts of those who were privileged to know him. He is survived by his mother Robin Davey of Waterbury, Vermont and his father Tinker Greene of San Francisco; he was an only child. A private memorial service is planned, and friends have erected a memorial website for Billy at blackvan.net/billy where remembrances, articles, photos and/or artwork about his life are welcomed. Memorial contributions may be made to Greenpeace, 902 H Street, NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20001 or to The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence at 1225 Eye Street, Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20005.
Published in Inside Bay Area on Sept. 14, 2001
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