Back in 1976, my pal, Jeanette Steiner received a submission by a young storyteller hoping to sell his book idea to Walt Disney Studios. As a rule, outside submissions are never even opened much less read. However, Jeanette took the time to read the story and offer a helpful critique. Having worked with Jeanette I knew she was a real stickler for grammar and spelling. She considered the work submitted much better than the usual stuff being done by the high school students of the day. Though the story was somewhat derivative and might have smacked a bit too much of Dr. Seuss, she nonetheless found the story delightful and enjoyed reading it.
However, the young man had additional talents as well. He even did the illustrations for the story. Even though he lacked the proper tools and materials, Jeanette thought the art was very good. She found the characters charming, imaginative and had sufficient variety to sustain interest. Jeanette thanked the young man for the opportunity to read his book and she praise his good work and encouraged him to continue.
Some years later, the young man was able to secure employment at the Walt Disney Studio, only this time it was in the animation department. In spite of his remarkable talents he was not a good fit for stodgy seventies Disney. His ideas and approach were not exactly welcomed by the rather conservative Disney artists. He was too odd, quirky and dark. It was clear this stint at the Walt Disney Studios was not working out, so the young man was soon sent on his way. Perhaps - just perhaps he might find a creative career outside of the Walt Disney Studios.
I’m glad my good friend, Jeanette Steiner was so encouraging back in 1976 because the young man went on to establish himself in the entertainment industry where he became a major talent. Today, his films are already legendary and the young story teller continues to attract audiences around the world with his moviemaking efforts. The Walt Disney Company failed to see what Jeanette Steiner saw back in the seventies. They allowed a major storyteller to walk away - only to be wooed back later for a good deal more money. Oh, I guess I forgot to mention the young man’s name.
His name is Tim Burton.