Friday, February 10, 2006

Thoughts On Disney

This morning, I woke up and decided to re-write the "about me" section of this blog. It really made me reflect on my professional life, where things were and where they are now. It made me nostalgic and hopeful and just a feel good situation.

While I was working at Disney in the 80's, it was a truly a magical time. Every day it was a blessing to go into work and team up with such a creative group. That lasted for many years, I never thought anything would or could change. Then came the 90's and things started to shift. What happened has been well documented and there is no need to go over it again. It just was not a pleasant place to be creative.

With all of the torture that the job seemed to morph into, it was a blessing in disguise. It helped me to refocus and change direction in my career. All for the best. And now that the Disney started making some progress with Chicken Little, Wilbur, and American Dog, things really started to look good again for my friends that rode it out.

Then, the whole Disney/Pixar thing happened. I am going to be totally out of character and say that I'm even more happy for Disney now, or actually, I'm more happy for those that stuck it out. Those with more patience and hope than I did. That company is at a crossroads, where it has the ability to make a swift change and go back to where it was in the past. This is a great opportunity and I am really happy for the company and the people.


Here's to Iger, someone I had some hesitation in supporting. I hope that whatever changes are about to happen will be for the best and that Disney can return to its glory.

I will counter this post with something extremely bitter and jaded in the next couple of days. Equal time - you know!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Where's Waldo?

Life has been a little busier than usual. Despite all the news going on in the animation world, I just have not been able to find the time to write about it.

It is late at night on a Tuesday, and I am exhausted. So let’s run through the world of animation before I fall asleep.

Pixar and Disney, a match made in heaven -- or hell -- depending on your angle. I don’t even know where to begin with this whole thing. Disney shelled out a lot of cash, probably more than they needed to, but they walked away with a goldmine in John Lasseter and the rest of the Pixar muckety mucks.

Not long after the news broke several other developments took place that has been well documented elsewhere. Including Disney’s version of Toy Story 3 getting canned. Iger has since told anyone who would listen that it has moved up to Pixar and will be put on Emeryville's plate. Of course the downer is, 200+ employees over at Circle 7 are not exactly sure where their future paychecks will come from. Some will move over to Disney Feature, a couple may even go up to Pixar, but the majority that aren’t found to be worthy by the new Pixney management will have to find work elsewhere. Good thing DreamWorks is hiring.

Not long after dumping Toy Story 3, Pete Docter and Andrew Stanton toured the Circle 7 studios and were floored by what they saw. If you haven't been to this facility, it is pretty impressive. So impressive that Pete and Andrew said that they wouldn't mind setting up shop there. Whatever that means.

What shoe is going to drop next? My money is on Disney Toon Studios. I also think a production or two that have been in development and pre-production over at WDFA are going to get shit canned. Now that Lasseter has morphed into ruler of the magic kingdom, I have a feeling he will go on a Pixar power play and suck the life out of a few promising Disney features so that he can slowly transition the facility into Pixar south.

Here is where I have issues. Don’t get me wrong. John Lasseter is talented and can get things moving in the right direction at Disney. However, I sure hope he doesn’t get on such a trip that he pushes aside some of those interesting Disney Animated Features that have been in development. There are some top notch creative guys at Disney. Now that they are out of the clutches of bad Disney management, they could go wild with great stories. Unfortunately it looks like Lasseter and company will put the kabosh on that in order to realize their ideas. I liked the diversity of the new Disney. If it becomes one big Pixar, I think we are going to lose a lot. Let’s hope that does not happen.

DreamWorks Animation released a sneak peak of Flushed Away a few days ago. This project looks nice. The character design, the lighting, the textures, the animation, all of it scores high on my card. It is interesting that DreamWorks finally came up with something beautiful by trying to imitate the Aardman stop motion look. Why couldn’t they come up with this on their own? I’m not too interested in seeing Over The Hedge, but Flushed Away, that is something I’m excited about.

Speaking of beautifully animated films with gorgeous textures, Hoodwinked continues to do well in the box office. This film has been ripped left and right and there is no reason to do it here too. I hate the fact that they outsourced the production, I hate the fact that the director cried about it on an animation forum, but I admire that it was actually produced for such a wee budget. This could benefit more small time producers and give studios a way into the game if they play their cards right. I’m a little fearful that it could dilute the market. However, I’ll keep an open mind that something better can be done for a similar budget.