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The magic of Disney has been captivating audiences for a century, and the recent press conference for “Once Upon a Studio” revealed just how deep and emotional that connection runs. A recent Q&A session with the creators of this remarkable animated short film–writer and director Dan Abraham; writer and director Trent Correy; producer Yvett Merino; and Producer Brad Simonsen–shed light on the behind-the-scenes process of bringing so many beloved Disney characters together and showcased the passion and dedication that fuels Disney’s storytelling.
A Journey Through Disney’s Rich History
“Once Upon a Studio” is an eight-and-a-half-minute tribute to Disney’s storied past, featuring a dazzling array of characters from the classic to the contemporary. The film takes viewers on a delightful romp through Disney’s iconic animation history, blending the old with the new seamlessly. It is a celebration of nostalgia and a testament to the enduring appeal of Disney’s timeless characters.
Nostalgia and Emotional Moments
One of the standout moments of the Q&A was when the creators discussed their emotional journey in making the short film. Throughout the development process, they found themselves moved to tears numerous times, whether at recording Richard Sherman playing “Feed the Birds” in Walt Disney’s office on the same piano he used to play for him back in the day, or rediscovering their favorite characters in the rough animation sequences.
When Disney’s Chief Creative Officer, Jennifer Lee, initially heard the pitch for “Once Upon a Studio,” she couldn’t contain her emotions and left the frame during the Zoom call. Her reaction resonated with many Disney fans, showcasing the profound connection people share with these characters and their stories.
The Power of Characters and Sincerity
The heart of Disney’s enduring magic, as highlighted in the Q&A, lies in its characters and their ability to connect with audiences on a deep emotional level. The creators emphasized the importance of sincerity and truth in character development. Disney’s characters, whether old or new, are relatable, and they often represent universal themes and values that resonate with people of all ages.
As the short film showcases, the magic of Disney is timeless because it continually evolves while staying true to its roots. Disney’s ability to pass the torch from one generation to the next is a testament to the enduring power of storytelling, as represented in the brief dialogue between Disney Legend Burny Mattinson and a young intern. Filmed less than a year before his passing, Mattinson had spent an unprecedented 70 years at Walt Disney Animation Studios starting as an assistant to some of the original Nine Old Men, and continuing to work full-time on projects as recent as Strange World.
A Blend of Old and New Animation
“Once Upon a Studio” masterfully combines classic 2D hand-drawn animation with modern CGI, bridging the gap between the Disney of yesteryear and the Disney of today. The creators emphasized the importance of making the characters look as they did in their original films while seamlessly integrating them into a contemporary setting. This meticulous attention to detail ensures that the characters feel both nostalgic and fresh to audiences.
The Emotional Impact of the Film
As Disney fans, we all have cherished memories and connections to these characters. “Once Upon a Studio” captures those memories and feelings, creating an emotional rollercoaster for viewers. The film’s ability to evoke joy, nostalgia, and even tears is a testament to Disney’s incredible storytelling prowess.
“Once Upon a Studio” is not just a celebration of Disney’s past; it’s a testament to the enduring power of storytelling and the emotional connections we share with these beloved characters. The Q&A session provided a glimpse into the heartfelt dedication and passion that went into creating this extraordinary short film, leaving audiences excited about what Disney has in store for the next hundred years. Disney’s magic continues to shine, and it will undoubtedly captivate audiences for generations to come.
The highly anticipated short film will make its broadcast debut on Sunday, October 15, 2023, at 8:00 p.m. PT, as part of ABC’s The Wonderful World of Disney: Disney’s 100th Anniversary Celebration!, hosted by Kelly Ripa.