Burny Mattinson Legendary Filmmaker Walt Disney
Burny Mattinson celebrated his 60-year anniversary with The Walt Disney Studios in 2013, and had previously been named a Disney Legend in 2008. He continues to be one of the key creative players and story experts at Walt Disney Animation Studios. He is also one of the few remaining Disney artists who worked with Walt Disney. Among the many highlights of Mattinson’s impressive career is a directing stint on the Academy Award®-nominated 1983 animated featurette, ‘Mickey’s Christmas Carol,” which returned Mickey Mouse to the big screen for the first time in 30 years. He also produced, co-directed, and helped to adapt the story for Disney’s 1986 animated feature, “The Great Mouse Detective.”
The veteran Disney filmmaker has worked on such classics as “Lady and the Tramp,” “101 Dalmatians,” “The Sword in the Stone,” “The Jungle Book” and “The Rescuers.” Additionally, he served as a key member of the story team on such contemporary Disney classics as “Aladdin,” “Beauty & the Beast,” “The Lion King, “Pocahontas,” “Mulan,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” and “Tarzan.” Most recently, he served as the story supervisor on the 2011 theatrical feature, “Winnie the Pooh,” and he also contributed to the delightful 2007 Goofy short “How to Hook Up Your Home Theater.” Mattinson is currently lending his story expertise to a variety of upcoming future projects for the Studio.
“Animation is 75% thinking and 25% drawing,” says Mattinson. “Everything must be carefully thought out first. Our animators not only have to think like actors but also figure out how to get that performance across on paper and on the screen. Our characters pause to think and connive. You can see it in their eyes.
“The important thing to remember about good animation is that less is more,” adds Mattinson. “Moving the characters too much is the sign of a real amateur. We put our efforts into more subtle, carefully thought out actions that communicate the point clearly and in an entertaining way.”
Mattinson was born in San Francisco and still recalls the profound impact that seeing “Pinocchio” had on him at the age of six. By the time he was twelve, he was drawing Disney-type characters and dreaming of being a cartoonist.
In 1953, he started his career at Disney working in the studio mailroom. He was eighteen and had no formal art training. Within six months, he was delivering more than mail as he ascended the rungs of the animation ladder beginning as an in-betweener on “Lady and the Tramp.”
He was promoted to assistant animator on “Sleeping Beauty” (working under Disney legend Marc Davis) and continued in that capacity on “101 Dalmatians.” He spent the next twelve years assisting Eric Larson (one of Walt’s “Nine Old Men”) on such films as “The Sword in the Stone,” “The Jungle Book” and “The Aristocats.”
In 1972, after completing an internal training program, he became an animator on “Robin Hood” and a key animator on “Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too.” Following this, he worked on storyboards and title designs for “The Rescuers” and “The Fox and the Hound” before directing “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” in 1983. In 1986, Burny wrote, produced and directed on “the Great Mouse Detective.”
Mattinson and his wife, Ellen, live in Santa Clarita, California.