Disney Winnie the Pooh Movie in Theaters July 15, 2011On Wednesday I leave for LA and the Disney/DreamWorks Event (follow the hashtag #DisneyDreamWorksEvent on Twitter for updates).  To say I’m getting nervous would be an understatement. I’m mostly worried about the interview opportunities because, well, they expect us to come up with intelligent and thought provoking questions.  They do realize they invited me, right?

To keep me organized and to put together some background information on the people we’ll be meeting and interviewing, I’m going to put up a few posts with my “notes”. Sort of a pre-trip study session (use the left and right arrows on the text box to see all the events).  So first, the new Winnie the Pooh movie.  By the way, the schedule is so tightly packed there are scheduled bathroom breaks….

We’re scheduled to do a brief tour and story walk through of Walt Disney Animation Studios with Winnie the Pooh Directors Don Hall & Stephen Anderson.

Winnie the Pooh Movie Directors Stephen Anderson and Don HallSTEPHEN ANDERSON (Director) became a member of Walt Disney Feature Animation in 1995 as a story artist on “Tarzan.” Prior to undertaking directing responsibilities for “Winnie the Pooh,” he served as director of 2007’s “Meet the Robinsons.”  Anderson’s credits in the WDAS story department include “The Emperor’s New Groove” and “Brother Bear.” He served as story supervisor for the two movies.  Before joining Disney, Anderson worked as an animator at Hyperion Animation on “Rover Dangerfield” and “Bebe’s Kids.” He made his directorial debut with the TV series “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.”  Anderson spent his youth in Plano, Texas, before attending the prestigious California Institute of the Arts, where he also served as a story instructor for five years. Steve presently resides in Canyon Country, Calif., along with his wife Heather and their son Jacob. -Source Disney.Go.Com

Prior to his role as director of “Winnie the Pooh,” DON HALL (Director) served as head of story for 2009’s “The Princess and the Frog.” As head of story, he worked closely with the directors in editorial and recording sessions; his responsibilities included story crew supervision, storyboarding sequences and writing.  Hall began his career at Walt Disney Animation Studios in June of 1995, coming onboard as a story trainee on “Tarzan.” He served as a storyboard artist on “The Emperor’s New Groove,” “Chicken Little” and various development projects. For “Meet the Robinsons,” Hall was elevated to head of story. He was nominated for an Annie Award for storyboarding on “The Emperor”s New Groove”-his work on “Meet the Robinsons” netted him a second nomination. Hall graduated with a BFA in drawing and painting from the University of Iowa and a BFA in character animation from California Institute of the Arts. After graduating from Cal Arts, he returned to the campus as an instructor in advanced story development. Hall is a native of Glenwood, Iowa, and currently resides in Pasadena with his wife and two children. – Source Disney.Go.Com

I’ve not seen all of the movies they’ve worked on and I won’t have time before I go. I do now have a better understanding of what a head of story does as well as a story supervisor, but I hope there’s not a test at the end of the tour 🙂

Then we’re scheduled to do a Drawing Demo with Bruce Smith (Supervising Animator for “Piglet,” “Kanga” and “Roo”)

Bruce Smith Supervising Animator for Piglet, Kanga, Roo Winnie the Pooh MoviePrior to “Winnie the Pooh,’ BRUCE SMITH (Supervising Animator for Piglet, Kanga, Roo) served as supervising animator for the villain of “The Princess and the Frog,’ Dr. Facilier. Supervising animators set the drawing style of their characters and guide the performance. In this role, Smith oversees a staff of animators to ensure the high level of quality that has come to be expected from the Walt Disney Animation Studios. Smith joined Walt Disney Animation Studios in 1988. He created original animation for the theme parks, while animating on such features as “Tarzan,’ “The Emperor’s New Groove’ and “Home on the Range.’  Smith was always interested in the art of animation. After studying character animation at Cal Arts, Smith tested the waters at various animation studios before landing at Disney. It was there that he worked on his first feature film, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?’ Throughout his career, Smith has worked on multiple groundbreaking projects. He was the director on “Bebe’s Kids’ and the director of animation on “Space Jam.’ Smith went on to create and executive produce “The Proud Family,’ the Disney Channel’s popular animated television series. – Source Disney.go.com

I’ve know about Bruce Smith for years.   He’s well regarded in the Disney Animation Fan circles and much loved for his talents.  He’s one I’m really looking forward to meeting because I’ve heard about him for so long.  I’m also looking forward to the drawing demo.  I can’t wait to see how it’s changed over the years and hopeful he’ll talk a little bit about where it’s headed.

Next a Watercolor Computer Demo with Animator Lisa Keene

For over 25 years, Lisa Keene’s work has appeared on the big screen around the world. Contributing as a visual development artist and background supervisor for such films as “Beauty and the Beast”, “The Lion King”, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, “Enchanted” and recently “Princess and the Frog” and “Tangled.” Educated at USC and The Art Center College of Design, she is also a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. – Source: Lisa Keene Online Portfolio

Her online portfolio is amazing.  I loved the concept art and the whole fantasy look and feel to her site.  I can’t wait to see her in action and learn more about the creative process. She worked on two of my favorite movies, “Enchanted” and “Tangled”.


  • From pots of paint to Photoshop: How a Disney computer artist mimicked Winnie the Pooh’s original watercolours – A great article about Lisa and the change in the animation process in the three decades she’s been with Disney
  • Walt Disney Animation Studios The Archive Series: Layout & BackgroundThis fourth installment in The Archive Series showcases the scenic background and layout art that gives every piece of Disney animation a time and place. The Animation Research Library and curator John Lasseter, the Walt Disney Animation Studios Chief Creative Officer, have assembled over 300 pieces of artwork from the company’s shorts and masterpieces from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to Tangled, and even the upcoming Winnie the Pooh. With many two-page spreads and several 30-inch gate-folds, Backgrounds & Layouts includes famous as well as unpublished work of the great layout artists and background painters such as Eyvind Earle, Claude Coats, Walter Peregoy, Maurice Noble, James Coleman, Serge Michaels, Al Dempster, Bill Layne, Art Riley, Brice Mack, and Lisa Keene. Collectors and animation enthusiasts couldn’t be more thrilled with the first three books in the series, and they are eager to add Backgrounds & Layouts to their libraries.

And here’s where I’m a bit terrified.  After all this fun, it’s time for a group Interview with Burny Mattinson (Senior Story Artist).  The “group” is likely just the 22 of us (2 more bloggers have been added).  So, if I say something stupid, it’ll be hard to cover.

Burny Mattinson Disney Animation Legend and Senior Story Artist for the Winnie the Pooh MovieBURNY MATTINSON (Senior Story Artist) is one of the few remaining Disney artists who worked with Walt Disney and is still on staff at Walt Disney Animation Studios. Mattinson’s lengthy career in animation is highlighted by helming the Academy Award®-nominated 1983 animated featurette “Mickey’s Christmas Carol,” which returned Mickey Mouse to the big screen for the first time in 30 years. The veteran Disney filmmaker had previously worked on such classics as “Lady and the Tramp,” “101 Dalmatians,” “the Sword in the Stone,” “The Jungle Book” and “The Rescuers.” He served as a key member of the story team on Disney’s contemporary classics including “Aladdin,” “Beauty & the Beast,” “The Lion King, “Pocahontas,” “Mulan,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Tarzan,” and most recently, the highly successful Goofy short “How to Hook Up Your Home Theater.”  Mattinson was born in San Francisco and still recalls the profound impact that seeing “Pinocchio” had on him at the age 6. By the time he was 12, he was drawing Disney-type characters and dreaming of being a cartoonist.  In 1953, Mattinson started his career at Disney working in the studio mailroom. He was 18 and had no formal art training. Within six months, he was delivering more than mail as he ascended the rungs of the animation ladder, beginning as an in-betweener on “Lady and the Tramp.” He was promoted to assistant animator on “Sleeping Beauty” (working under Disney legend, Marc Davis) and continued in that capacity on “101 Dalmatians.” He spent the next 12 years assisting Eric Larson on such films as “The Sword in the Stone,” “The Jungle Book” and “The Aristocats.”  In 1972, after completing an internal training program, he became an animator on “Robin Hood” and a key animator on “Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too.” Following this, he worked on storyboards and title designs for “The Rescuers” and “The Fox and the Hound” before directing “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” in 1983. In 1984, Mattinson wrote, produced and directed “The Great Mouse Detective.” – Source Disney.go.com

Wow.  I’m impressed by this man!  To start in the mailroom at 18 and work his way up is phenomenal and such a testament to his talent!  He’s worked on just about every one of my fav Disney movies – what a living legend!  So, what does one ask a living legend?  I’d love some ideas.

And, just when you’d think I’d be able to catch my breath – mind you, all this is taking place between breakfast and lunch, we do another group interview.  This time with Jim Cummings (voice of “Winnie the Pooh” and “Tigger”) and Tom Kenny (voice of “Rabbit”).

Jim Cumming the voice of Pooh and Tigger in the Winnie the Pooh Movie - PHOTO CREDIT JimCummings.comJIM CUMMINGS (voice of Winnie the Pooh and Tigger) has given life and voice to some of America’s most beloved animated characters, even a few of the late Mel Blanc’s. He was recently nominated for an Emmy® Award for his work as the lovable Tigger on Disney Channel’s “My Friends Tigger & Pooh,” in which he also voices everyone’s favorite bear, Winnie the Pooh.  Born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio, Cummings spent Saturday mornings riveted to the television screen as he mimicked the characters in his favorite cartoons, all the while dreaming that one day he would voice them himself. At age 19, he moved to New Orleans where he performed as a drummer, a singer and a deck hand on river boats, and he even designed and created Mardi Gras floats, all the while absorbing the rich characters and accents that would someday find expression in animation.  Years later, Cummings relocated to Southern California and managed a video store as he pursued his childhood dream. He gave his first demo tape to a customer who was also a movie producer, and the rest, as they say, is history. In 1984.  No matter how busy Cummings’ schedule may be, it all stops when Famous Fone Friends or the Make a Wish Foundation calls on behalf of a very ill child and distraught family in need of a phone call from their favorite cartoon character. Cummings is a proud father of four and resides in Southern California with his wife Stephanie, their beautiful daughters Grace and Lulu Rose, and their critters.

I spent two minutes on Jim Cummings’ website and I love him.  The cheeky intro sets the tone for the whole site.  I dare you to go and not smile!  He makes use of music on every page….you may want to turn down your speakers.  I also found this fun tidbit on his site, “Cummings also narrates the current Epcot fireworks show, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.”  I had no idea but I LOVE the narration on that show!  I also appreciate how he puts the needs of others first with his work for Famous Fone Friends and Make A Wish.  Now THAT’S impressive.

And just before we break for lunch, we’ll do a group interview with Tom Kenny (voice of “Rabbit”).  Sadly, it appears Tom & Rabbit were not included on the Disney.go.com cast page, so I checked over at Wikepedia and found the following…

Tom Kenny from Sponge Bob Square Pants to Rabbit in Winnie the Pooh the MovieThomas James “Tom” Kenny (born July 13, 1962) is an American actor, voice actor and comedian, noted for his long-running-role as SpongeBob SquarePants in the television series of the same name, as well as the live-action character Patchy the Pirate, Gary the Snail and the French narrator based on Jacques Cousteau. He is also the narrator of Cartoon Network’s The Powerpuff Girls. Aside from voice acting, Kenny starred in the short-lived Fox sketch show The Edge, and was a cast member of the HBO sketch comedy program Mr. Show, where he worked with Jill Talley, whom he subsequently married. He currently voices the Ice King in the Cartoon Network animated series Adventure Time with Finn and Jake, and voices additional characters on Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, another Cartoon Network show. Also in Cosmic Quantum Ray as Quantum Ray. As of 2007, he has also hosted the show Funday Night at the Movies on TCM, which encourages children to watch old movies.

“If I had to pick one word to describe Rabbit,” say Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongBob SquarePants who provides Rabbit’s voice, “I’d say he’s a ‘fussbudget’ – he’s very fussy, organized, he likes his garden a certain way, he likes his house a certain way, he doesn’t like unexpected visitors — people just showing up at his door throws off his routine and he’s all about routine.” – Source Disney.go.com

So I’m wondering how Tom is or isn’t like Rabbit.  Since I’ve never been a SpongeBob fan, I’m not sure what to ask this  obviously talented fellow.  I may have to give my “kids” a call.  They know all of his work, well.

And finally, lunch!  So, if you were taking the trip with me, which you are, what would you ask these amazing fellows?  I could really use your help.  Oh, and if I use your question?  A GIFT from me!  I’m thinking an $25 Amazon Gift Certificate, but I could be persuaded to do a Disney one, too 🙂

Winnie the Pooh the movie releases in the US in theaters only on July 15, 2011


PHOTO CREDITS:  Unless otherwise noted, Photos by Eric Charbonneau. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved, Edited by MiscFinds4u


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