I was sifting through my digital files recently. I was trying to locate a few sketches, but I came across an unexpected few. These were drawings I had completed as part of my development work at the Disney Studio. While pouring over the files I came across this long forgotten development piece. It was a color sketch I created nearly twenty years ago for an animated movie then in development. The sketch caught my attention because it was an interesting mix of old school sketching and the new emerging digital applications we would soon be using. The black&white line art was created using a Mont Blanc pen. It was then scanned into the computer and painted with Corel Painter. I chose these tools because I wanted every sketch to be energetic and vibrant. I found I was able to achieve this artistic sensibility by using these very different but very effective tools. It was an exciting way to work and I continued to use the same technique throughout the development process.
I often regret some of our best work is never seen by most people. What we do is simply part of the development process. It’s only one step in a process that moves us closer toward the finished motion picture. It’s a process that will require thousands of sketches and paintings done over time. Many of the sketches will end up on the floor or in the waste basket. However, tedious or mundane, this is how animated films are made. There will be many iterations by many talented artists. However, you, the audience will probably only see a fraction of the work created. A considerable amount of work is required to bring the animated feature film to the screen, and that path is littered with drawings and paintings. More than you could ever imagine.
I love the looseness of this particular sketch. I love how it captures a pivotal moment in the motion picture where the young calf has to conquer his fears. Up to now the young steer has been intimidated by horses. He is especially fearful of the bold stallions who rule the range. However, in this instance the feisty little steer musters the courage to block the path of western bad guys who have just knocked over the local bank. The little calf stands his ground as the angry stallions skid to a halt. It’s only one moment in an action film that will include many such moments and engage the audience as only a rootin’ tootin’ good old fashion western can. The Disney movie was a bonified hoot and I gotta confess one of the best animated projects I’ve seen in my many years in the business. You’ve never seen this film because we never made it. That’s correct. The Disney motion picture, “Sweatin’ Bullets” never made it to the big screen because of a number of reasons. However, I regret to say the number one reason we never made this animated movie is because it was good. No doubt about it, the movie would have been a smash hit. Something the Disney Company (in all its wisdom) did not want. So, the movie was scuttled. It was ambushed, and nobody will ever tell you the real reason why. Of course, no one is going to ask that question because nobody even remembers, “Sweatin’ Bullets” today. It’s simply another forgotten page in Disney history. A history that most have already forgotten. However, I’ve not forgotten and I doubt I ever will. Maybe one of these days I’ll tell you the whole sad and sorry story. Don’t be surprised. I have a habit of doing that.