Of course you recognize the towering edifice in this photograph. It's the Team Building (or the Michael Eisner Building) on the Disney Studio lot. I'm on my way inside for another interview with the foreign media as they prep for the upcoming release of the Walt Disney classic, “The Jungle Book.”
Whether I'm speaking with a journalist from New Zealand or Spain, the questions are pretty much the same. Most ask what it was like to work with Walt Disney or how has the studio changed since the days of The Nine Old Men. Naturally, most seem fascinated with the Disney of the past rather than present day. That's only natural, I suppose. When I was a kid I couldn't seem to get enough of Disney history and I begged the old timers to tell me stories about the thirties and forties. Now, even the Disney of the fifties and sixties seem like ancient history. Yet, to me it still seems like yesterday.
Another question that I get again and again is the impact digital animation has made on the business. I usually reply that CGI has had a profound influence on the animated movies being made today. Along with that it has open up many jobs that never existed in animation's past. Most seem to agree as they mention the long list of credits at a movies' end. These credit crawls can often run eight minutes or more. Of course, there is more animation being done today than anytime I can remember. We've gone from three major animation houses producing feature films to nearly a dozen if you count our foreign colleagues. Clearly, there's more job opportunities in this expanded market and that's a good thing.
Finally, not an interview ends without the mention of traditional hand drawn animation. “Do you think it will ever return,” they ask? “And, when will that be?” I always answer, hand drawn animation will return to the big screen one day, however, it won't be anytime soon. My guess is the public will begin to yearn for this marvelous art form once they realize what they've lost. When this happens, I guarantee that this marvelous art form will make a comeback. However, don't hold your breathe because we're at least a decade away from that ever happening.