On March 25, 2002, more than 200 Disney artists working at the studio's legendary Feature Animation Department in Burbank, were told that their services were no longer needed by the company. It took only one uncomfortable gathering with the president of Feature Animation, now dubbed "The Tom Meeting", to kill 75 years of a beloved animated tradition. A similar series of events soon played out at Disney's other animation studios in Paris, Tokyo and Florida. Doors were closed for good and in total nearly 1300 skilled artists and craftsmen were fired. The company, best known for it's handcrafted animated features, no longer wanted artists to draw for them. DREAM ON SILLY DREAMER is the new animated documentary, from director Dan Lund and producer Tony West, that tells this tale. It features interviews recorded only seconds after the now infamous "Tom Meeting". You will hear what was said, the reasons offered by the company and feel the emotional responses from those being affected at ... Written by
I was hired at Disney as a lead (which I never asked for) and negotiating was like talking to children , like it was Disney and you should work for nothing. Finally they hire me, then one of the people who has been there for years starts whining he wants the lead, , "Do you have a problem with that " the producer says, I say "No, I think Im just as good a follow up , fine". Well it turns out that lead is emotionally insecure and not only doesn't want my help but are afraid that you might be good. He condemns me to 8 months doing nothing. Zero!
In an accidental self outing he says "There are these two great artists coming on from Pocahontas who are really good, we have to make sure they don't get any good scenes" Suddenly realizing I'm in the room he says "Oh but I doesn't mean you". What follows is a fun festival of stuff that doesn't work till they hire someone named Brian Stiff to clean up his work and make it stiff. It was like having your drawings RAPED! Gutting anything artistic! I quit the character and went on to do some of the best work I had ever done on another character in the film.
I am a very dynamic worker, I have run entire productions by myself and still do. Sitting for 8 solid months doing nothing was like sheer torture. I spent those month bored out of my head. Other Disney artists were horribly jealous because I got hired , straight as a lead and I was making decent money without doing the time. The system is made to be self hating as Walt planned to use one artists in competition but this was whining.
If I wandered the studio to see what they were doing they were angry I was not happy doing nothing and called me a "whiner " for not being happy that I was just hired by Disney. They would insult anyone who wasn't crazy about doing crowd scenes. Which is hilarious because by the time I was near he end of my 8 months in solitary at Disney I was stealing crowd scenes off other peoples desks and letting them claim the footage. Still, the group of them couldn't believe the audacity of this person entering Disney as lead.
I did this scene for this other lead on his character. he said "Wow, now I know why they hired you!". I said "Thanks , I liked doing them I'd love to do more ! " Suddenly this lead wheels around and says "SHUT UP! WE ARE TIRED OF HEARING YOU WHINE! ". The psychotic atmosphere at Disney was hard to believe but it was real. Underneath any pleasantry is this absurd fear that someone wants your job. People were angry and bitter That's why he flipped out, having done good job they thought I wanted this character now.
This kind of nonsense is endless there. Little cliques that kiss each others behinds until they back stab each other. A lead from Pocahontas wrote he most horrible work report for his best friend. His best friend cornered him in his office and made him change that report.
Ironically the directors offered me the lead on two other characters in the film and I said "No!". I had been bullied enough! I am good enough knew I could be a powerful secondary I told them a friend wanted those leads and they gave them to the very artist that had been betrayed by the Pocahontas lead, and he did terrific. For that I will always be grateful.
So how do I feel about Dreamer ? I feel no empathy whatsoever with a dream so small. I wanted to be an animator, not just a Disney animator. There are hordes of artists who want to be Milt Kahl or Ollie Johnson. Why ? Be yourself, do your own stuff. Disney was not magical, it was the collective that was magical. Without it it is just another dead place. Dumbo was not a greatly animated film but it was my favorite. The world will not miss another Disney princess. They long ago stopped leading. Move on like the tens of millions of Americans that got replaced by the slave countries.
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