Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Leaving the Old Animation Building

Click on the image at left for a larger picture There's now talk of Disney Feature Animation bailing out of the "hat building" beside the 134 freeway and returning to Glendale. But twenty-one years ago, the feature animation department was forced from its home of 45 years and exiled to the Grand Central industrial sector of Glendale... I remember that Michael Eisner came down to the second floor offices in the Animation Building and told a group of us: "Guys, w're bursting at the seams around here. We need this whole building for executive office spaces. We're sending you off to Glendale. But don't worry. We'll construct a whole new building for you..." Michael was as good as his word. It just took him a decade to get around to doing it. In the meantime, the animation staff was hanging by a thread because new Disney management was highly ambivalent about continuing animation in town ("Why not just ship it all to Japan?" was a refrain that circulated to us from the executive ranks in the mid-eighties.) Anyway, we all knew that we were soon to move when this group photo was taken on the steps of the Disney animation building. The time is Spring, 1985. I won't detail everyone in the picture, but I'll point out a few prime specimens: Shawn Keller is holding the monkey in the lower right hand corner. Mike Peraza's in the upper left-hand corner -- advertising Don Bluth on a bright red t-shirt -- with Rob Minkoff (now a live-action film director) standing next to him with arms folded. Director John Musker stands in the middle of the top row. Ron Clements -- then working in story -- stands left-of-center in the third row next to Vance Gerry. Burnie Mattinson -- recently celebrating his 50th year in Disney Animation -- stands on the lower left in a bright red polo shirt. Don Hahn -- now acting commandante -- sits at the far lower left. Nobody then had any idea where the department was headed, what highs and lows lay ahead. It's funny staring at all the faces and knowing now where so many of them ended up. Time's an unending river...

2 comments:

Skribbl said...

Is that Don Hahn without a beard??? And look! Alex Topete with hair!! OMG!

Anonymous said...

Is that Sylvia Mattinson next to him? She's my step-sister.

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