Long-Grin Debut - 1

1984

In 1984, Travis was the Director of Production for Bond Johnson's Cine-Media International. Although they had several productions in development, none were moving. With a completed screenplay, Travis as director and his newly completed Long-Grin mockup ready for show-and-tell, Bond agreed to go for it. As he said at the time, “It takes the same effort to raise $7 million as it does to raise $70 million, so, the question becomes, which properties move your heart? Which ones do you want to see? Which ones answer the question of why you got into the movie business in the first place?”

Bond's meetings with studio executives and independent financiers went well. They discussed the possibilities of joint ventures between two studios (Disney and Paramount had done that for DRAGONSLAYER), or possibly a split-rights deal co-funded by outside independent sources of financing (which meant a major studio would put up half the money for exclusive distribution rights to the U.S. and English-speaking Canada, and Cine-Media could raise the rest of the production budget through foreign presales or independent financial partners who would have the distribution rights for the rest of the world.

But talk is just talk, and rather than have LONG-GRIN bog down in development, Travis proposed throwing a party, like the one George Lucas threw when he was trying to get backing for STAR WARS. The story was that when the studio reps saw the illustrations on his walls, they became excited enough to back the production. Travis offered to host the party, if Bond would invite the interested players. Once there, they would be able to see, touch and even have their photos taken with the "star of the show," Long-Grin, the dragon. It seemed like a good idea at the time and so, it came to pass.

The gentleman Travis is introducing to Long-Grin is a multi-millionaire who had invested in the 1981 production of MGM's TAKE THIS JOB AND SHOVE IT.
Travis hands his guest off to Billy, who is there to provide detail about the dragon's operating systems and the puppeteers required to operate it.
Billy in not only the sculptpr of the model, but knows what it takes to operate the dragon's systems and his simplified explanations inspire confidence in the awestruck investor.
Cinematographer Harry Mathias is fascinated, too. Harry worked with Travis on the Betsy Baytos BETSY AND THUMPER TV promo for a recent Disney re-release of BAMBI.