For the first time ever, Disney is releasing its short films in one collection. The release includes the popular shorts Feast, Get a Horse!, which puts Mickey Mouse and friends in black and white and color for the first time, combing classic Mickey and modern Mickey in one short. Also included are Tangled Ever After and Frozen Fever.
Disney producer and filmmaker Aimee Scribner took some time out to speak to me about the collection, how her career at Disney got started, and the process behind the short films and animated features. Joining Disney in 1995, Scribner has worked on several projects including serving as associate producer for Frozen and as digital production manager for Atlantis and production manager on Mickey’s PhilharMagic, which brought the famed Disney characters to life in 3D for the first time.
You can read the entire interview below!
The Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection is out on Blu-Ray today!
This is the first time Disney is putting out this shorts collection. When did this project begin to come into fruition?
As you can see we’ve been working on the collection, but the first short was done in 2000 and I think now we have this wonderful library of titles. And we’re so excited that we’re putting them out as a collection.
I’m a big Disney fan, so I’m very excited about this!
How did you get into the field of animation after having majored in English in college?
Wow! You’ve done your homework [laughs]. My husband is an Imagineer with Walt Disney Imagineering and he was asked to go to Florida’s Walt Disney World and we relocated for what was supposed to a short amount of time and I was going crazy because I was a creative executive and living in the middle of Central Florida. And the studio was doing Mulan and it was the first full feature for that studio. And so I started my Disney career there and I fell in love with the storytelling and the artists and the studio. And we came back home to California and never looked back.
So you’ve been with Disney for almost 20 years. What have been the biggest challenges and most rewarding experiences of your job?
Ohh… hmm, biggest challenges and most rewarding experiences. I think with every film it’s different and every film presents a different challenge. You gotta really love the process of filmmaking and finding these stories. I think what’s been really rewarding for me is having been here 20 years, I think I’m having more fun now than I ever have. And I really feel like our studio has really taken a turn when John Lasseter and Ed Catmull came to creatively lead. And putting the hands of filmmaking back to the filmmakers. We’re an artistically-driven studio and the goal is to tell great stories with a appealing characters and create these beautiful, believable worlds. It’s really a wonderful time to be at Disney animation.
What I really enjoy about movies like Frozen, Mulan, and Tangled, is that they’re really driven by their characters. They have these unique personalities and they’re very memorable. So what comes first for you? The characters or thinking about where it’s going to be set, etc?
I think we do an awful lot of research in terms of what is the world we want to create. At the same time that we’re writing the story and trying to find out who our characters are. I don’t think so it’s a magic combination of how these three things come together. So it’s a process. You may have a frame of your story and you can never discount the wonderful addition that the animators bring to the finding of our characters in their performance. There are actors, if you will, and they may find some little charming, some character quirk and all of a sudden you understand your character all that much more and that informs the story. And so it’s a very iterative and collaborative process.
Can you talk a bit about the initial creative process? And where in that process do you come in?
In the frame of the short, we always start with the story and coming up with an idea. And as I mentioned, we work in collaboration with all the different creatives department: editorial, animation, etc. We rely really heavily on getting feedback from our studio and we screen our reels and get their notes. We work very closely with John Lasseter to craft the story. On a short, it’s a smaller chapter of that larger story-telling and we come up with an idea. They get made in less time. Within a year, usually. So it’s a bit more of a fast track. With the Frozen and Tangled shorts we already knew the characters and we knew more about what story we wanted to tell.
For Tangled, we knew that people wanted to see Rapunzel and Eugene get married. What we really wanted was to tell the story of what was going to go wrong. And in real life, the royal wedding was happening with William and Kate, so we had the inspiration of what would happen to the kingdom when everyone is excited about the wedding. So that made it all the more fun for everything to go wrong. And for Frozen, now the girls are back together and united, and Elsa’s never been able to celebrate with Anna on her birthday. And how could she create the perfect day? We wanted to have another great song by Kristen [Anderson] and Robert Lopez. And [Frozen] director Chris Buck used to do a thing at the holidays with his boys, where he would tie their presents with string and hide them around the house and outside and they’d have to go on a hunt and follow the string. And that was the real-life inspiration for what Elsa did with the presents for Anna. And the fun of the snowmen with Elsa sneezing and these little snowmen coming out was a great gift in the story room with people talking about what would if Elsa got her first cold. And the animators made them so, so charming. So that was a lot of fun.
There are a lot of fantastic shorts on this Blu-Ray! What do fans have to look forward to besides the shorts? Any extras you’re looking forward to having everyone see?
Yeah, there’s definitely filmmaker intros. I think there’s a short story on shorts that was produced. When you look at the collection, I’m hoping that everyone’s going to be delighted by the variety and the amount of shorts there are on this disc. Someone had asked me in another interview about when the next collection is coming out [laughs]. We’ve got our work cut for us!