Previous Panels, Special Events

Late Night with Lion King

Description: Come celebrate some of the amazing key talent responsible for the legendary film “Lion King”.  A property with their contributions that was created in 1994 for $79,300,000 and went on to earn world wide gross of $928,475,367 with a profit of $384,937,684 and has gone from 2D to Broadway to an Ice Show and now stereoscopic 3D. These are the people who designed, molded, created and pulled out of their imaginations the look and feel of that film.

rallers_thumbModerator Roger Allers

The award winning Director of The Lion King, Roger Allers has been instrumental in shaping the structure and dialogue of many Disney animated features since 1988, including Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Oliver and Company, Rescuers Down Under, Prince and the Pauper and the pioneer CGI effects movie Tron.

For Sony Pictures, Allers directed the feature Open Season. For Disney, he directed the Academy Award nominated short, The Little Matchgirl.

Allers adapted the screenplay for the The Lion King Broadway musical, earning him and his co-writer Irene Mecchi a Tony nomination for Best Book of a Musical.

Prior to working with Disney, he created animation on children’s programs and features for studios in Boston, Toronto and Tokyo. He is currently writing an original musical for Broadway and developing film and stage projects with Irene Mecchi, including a short performance piece with Bobby McFerrin for Heifer International, a charity devoted to ending world hunger and poverty.

Rob Minkoff Animation director Rob Minkoff was born and raised in Palo Alto, California. In his youth his interest in drawing and animation was magnified while watching his 8mm film collection, which included Disney’s Sleeping Beauty (1959). Slowing the films down, he studied the action one frame at a time. He furthered his personal education on the subject after discovering the book The Art of Walt Disney at a friend’s house.

While his head wasn’t swimming in animation, Minkoff worked in theater, performing for numerous groups including the Palo Alto Children’s Theater, Theater Works and his high school dramatic group. Following graduation, the decision to attend CalArts in Valencia and pursue his dream of becoming an animator was coming into fruition.

In 1982, he served an internship at Disney and had a chance to train with one of the studio’s legendary “nine old men,” Eric Larson. A year later, Minkoff was hired by Disney and began to work on his first assignment, The Black Cauldron (1985), followed by The Great Mouse Detective (1986). The next few years he worked on various aspect of Disney’s feature films such as developing and writing for a variety of animated features, including a song for Oliver & Company (1988), character designs for The Little Mermaid (1989), and an early treatment for Beauty And The Beast (1991).

He made his directing debut on a couple of animated shorts starring Roger Rabbit, such as Tummy Trouble (1989) followed by Roller Coaster Rabbit (1990). He landed the chance to direct a feature film in the early 90’s with Disney’s The Lion King (1994).

Following the success of The Lion King (1994), Minkoff left Disney to work with Columbia where he released the popular Stuart Little (1999) films (1999 and 2002), based on a mouse who lives as an equal family member with a group of kindly humans. The films mix live action and computer animation.

Panelist Brenda Chapman Animation Director

A native of the state of Illinois, Chapman studied animation at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). During her summer breaks, she began her professional career working in syndicated television animation. After graduating with a BFA in character animation, she was a story trainee on Disney’s animated film The Little Mermaid. She was one of several key story artists on Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, where she worked closely with future Disney director Roger Allers to define many of the key sequences and motifs used in the film. She later served as head of story for the Disney animated feature film, The Lion King, overseeing both the writers and the artists on the project. The Lion King is unique in Disney Animation history in that it is the only major animated feature produced by the studio that was not based on a previously extant story (i.e., it was conceived and developed entirely by the Disney Feature Animation team).

Chapman also worked in story and development for other Disney animated films such as The Rescuers Down Under and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. She joined DreamWorks Animation at its inception in the fall of 1994, and is now working at Pixar.

She also worked on Dennis the Menace, The Real Ghostbusters, Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘N’ Wrestling, the second season of Heathcliff, Chicken Run, Cars and Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Chapman was one of a team of three directors who worked on 1998’s The Prince of Egypt, along with Steve Hickner and Simon Wells. She became the first woman to land a directing role in an animated feature by a major studio;[1] three others had helmed independent efforts before her (Lotte Reiniger of The Adventures of Prince Achmed, Joy Batchelor of Animal Farm, and Arna Selznick of The Care Bears Movie).[1][2]

She is currently directing Brave for Pixar Animation Studios, which is due for release in 2012
Andy Gaskill Story board creator for “The Circle of Life” was drafted out of art school to work at the Disney studio when he was twenty-one. He flew out to Los Angeles from Philadelphia and he has lived in the movie capital ever since.

He participated in the first animation training program at Disney, supervised by veteran animator Eric Larson. Other veteran animators still working there at the time included Milt Kahl, Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, John Lounsberry and Les Clark. Andy recalls, at the time he didn’t appreciate the amazing artistic resource these men offered, and only in maturity did he realize these men actually shaped his childhood. At age five, Andy saw Lady and the Tramp and was so moved by the spaghetti scene that he acted it out over and over with his friends! Later in life, he discovered Frank Thomas had animated that scene, thereby conferring a sort of honorary parenthood on Frank, (or was it perpetual childhood for Andy?)

Disney became a baseline for Andy for many years, culminating in art direction credits for Lion King, Hercules and Treasure Planet. The crash of hand-drawn animation in the early 2000’s sent many artists scurrying to learn 3d skills, and Andy was one of them. Today he works at Sony Pictures Animation, performing visual development and art direction functions.

There is a message Andy wants to communicate to anyone who is new to the business: no matter what technique animation might employ; hand-drawn or CG, the most important attributes of a movie have nothing to do with technique. The two most important attributes are: Story and design. Get good at those.

Andreas Deja Supervising AnimatorAndreas Deja was born 1957 in Gdańsk, Poland. Deja moved with his family to Dinslaken, Germany in 1958. After graduating from Theodor-Heuss Gymnasium (secondary school), he studied graphic design at the Folkwang-Schule in Essen, Germany. A lifelong fan of Disney animated films, Deja was hired by the studio in 1980 after he had corresponded with Eric Larson.[1] The first film on which he worked was The Black Cauldron, during which time he shared a cubicle with the film director Tim Burton.

During his rookie days at Disney, Deja sought mentorship and practical advice from seven of the then-living Nine Old Men (who were already retired before his tenure). On an interview with Clay Katis on the Animation Podcast, Deja stated that if the podcast needed anything on the Nine Old Men, to refer to him because of the vast amount of information he has collected over the years. He later revealed that one of his ambitions is to publish one book for each of the Nine Old Men.

Deja is best known as the supervising animator of some of the most memorable Disney villains: Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, Jafar in Aladdin and Scar from The Lion King. He also animated Roger Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit, King Triton from The Little Mermaid, the title character from Hercules, Lilo from Lilo & Stitch, and Queen Narissa from Enchanted. In addition, he is the current resident specialist for the animation of Mickey Mouse.

In 2006, at the 35th Annie Awards, Deja was awarded the Winsor McCay Award for outstanding contribution to the art of animation.

Charles Solomon: An internationally respected critic and historian of animation, Charles Solomon has written on the subject for “The New York Times,” “TV Guide,” “Newsweek” (Japan), “Rolling Stone,” “Los Angeles Times,” “Modern Maturity,” “Film Comment,” “The Hollywood Reporter,” “Manchester Guardian,” Amazon.com and National Public Radio’s “Day To Day.” His work has also appeared in publications in Canada, France, Russia, Britain, Israel, the Netherlands and Japan. His recent books include “The Prince of Egypt: A New Vision in Animation” (Abrams, 1999), “The Disney That Never Was” (Hyperion, 1995), “Les Pionniers du Dessin Animé Américain” (Dreamland, Paris, 1996) and “Enchanted Drawings: The History of Animation” (Knopf, 1989; reprinted, Wings, 1994), which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and the first film book to be nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award.

Ruben Aquino (coming soon)


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