Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Lost Style?

Maybe the style has been missing for years.

[Disney], the most distinctive studio in Hollywood, which stood for a certain type of family entertainment, may no longer have a style of its own.

This decline happened only a few years after Disney was announcing a return to the style of its glory days, so suddenly that some staff members went almost instantly from euphoria to unemployment. Frans Vischer, who worked on such Disney hits as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, was one of several animators who rejoined Disney after it merged with Pixar in 2006, believing the company’s proclamations that it was about to bring back its classic brand of hand-drawn animated family movies. “I thought, ‘Okay, now they’re going to become a real animation studio again,’ ” he says. He was one of the animators laid off a few months ago, as the company shut down most of its traditional hand-drawn animated production. ...

The thing about movie studios is, we get attached to the romantic fantasy of them that we have in our heads. But the fantasy isn't tethered to reality.

Like in the seventies, young Cal Arts grads really wanted to work at Walt Disney Productions, because that's where the cool animated features were made. Only when they got hired there, the kids quickly got disillusioned. The place wasn't what they envisioned, wasn't turning out the kind of work they hoped for. (The youngsters should have known, because Disney legend Ward Kimball was running around to art schools and taunting twenty-somethings with "Walt's dead and you missed it!")

The moral of the story is: NOTHING retains the glory of its magic moment in time for very long. Snow White and its world premiere can only happen once. Toy Story and Star Wars dazzle audiences in the years they're made, then the parade moves on. Movie companies create art, morph into powerhouses, then get swallowed up by international conglomerates and make ... commerce.

The only constant in the universe is change. "Walt's dead and you missed it." Go make your own dream, because the one in Burbank, California is now a multinational clearinghouse for franchises.


Anonymous said...

Paperman wasnt commerce.

This post/article disappoints me Steve, and just further fuels the ignorant notion that Walt Disney Animation only exists to churn out meaningless product. Sure, we're a business, but we're also a team of passionate artists who try to make films that matter to people. Films that move them and stick with them for years, and have that Disney magic that made the name. I think Tangled did that, as well as Wreck-It Ralph and others.

And what does "Its next animated project is Frozen, a movie with the same fairy-tale style as Tangled and a 3D animation style that apes Pixar and Dreamworks; even Disney movies don’t want to seem too much like Disney" even mean? Tangled and Frozen are DISTINCTLY Disney. Pixar and Dreamworks only dream of making films that look that good.

I think this article is written by someone who got a "scoop" from Frans and others who have a vendetta about getting laid off. It isnt being written from the other side.

Walt may be dead, but Disney Animation has been experiencing a rebirth for several years now, creatively. Walt may be dead, but if you aren't working at Disney right now, you're missing out.

Steve Hulett said...

You're right. I was too snide in my commentary. (Late nights will do that to you.)

I thought "Tangled" was excellent, and "Frozen" looks good as well. (What I've seen of it.)

But I stick to my larger point: Diz Co. ain't a tiny little company anymore, run by an artist. It's a big fat conglomerate, making lots of tentpoles and creating franchises, some good, many indifferent. Running amusement parks and overseeing merchandise.

But I mention elsewhere what studio personnel used to say of Walt, they now say of J. Lasseter.

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