Saturday, May 30, 2015

My Disney Letter And The Road It Set Me On

I had finished my summer school animation night class at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and decided to apply to Disney. For my portfolio, I sent in my one-minute-long silent pencil test I'd completed as my class assignment...which was the very first (and only) animation I'd ever done. This is the response I received.

Below is the one surviving animation drawing from my very first piece of animation (a rabbit character boxing with his own shadow), which is the film the above letter refers to.

Six months after I received the Disney letter of rejection, I was hired in 1975 at New York Institute of Technology as an inbetweener to work on "Tubby the Tuba"...where I met and worked under the master Popeye and TerryToon animators Johnny Gentilella and Marty Taras. During the 14 months I worked on that feature, I developed into a Cleanup Assistant Animator...which led me to getting hired in 1976 for "Raggedy Ann & Andy", directed by Richard Williams...which led me to getting hired by Friz Freleng as an animator in 1977.

But when I tried to reapply to Disney in that summer of 1977 (less than three years from my initial submission), I was told that I'd had TOO much experience and they preferred to start with younger art school students...they were clean slates that could be "molded to the house style."

The influences of working daily on those rare non-Disney features for almost two years led me on a path that enabled me to develop my own style of animation. I have NO regrets!