What It’s Like To Work For Disney Animation by Frank Dietz

Film Courage: How good of an artist do you have to be to work for Disney and how did you get that good?

Frank Dietz, Artist/Screenwriter: Okay, so you have to be a very, very good artist to work for Disney. And that means again that you need to have done your homework. You need to have taken classes. What they want to see from you is that you can draw. Not just draw cartoons, anybody can do that right? That you can draw the human figure correctly. That you can push that figure…like plus it. So if somebody is leaning over you can enhance it so they are learning over because that is part of what animation is all about.

When I was there even though we already had the job and everything is going great, everyday at lunch time, maybe it wasn’t everyday, but at least a few times a week at lunch time they had a drawing lab downstairs. And at lunchtime instead of going to the cafeteria and eating your lunch or eating your lunch in your cubicle you could go down to the drawing lab, take your lunch if you want and they would have a model there. Sometimes a nude model, sometimes a model in an elaborate costume and they had an instructor there who was one of the original story guys who worked on movies like PETER PAN and DUMBO who would walk around and see what you’re doing.

Walt Stanchfield was the instructor who was there when I was there. He has passed on now but he terrified us because he would walk around behind us. We’d have a model and we were working and you’d have a time limit. They might do Okay, these are 10-second sketches. Go! 30 second sketches, one-minute sketches and sometimes it would be 20-minutes. But you’re working with a charcoal pencil that you’re working very quickly and lightly and so forth. Gesture drawings…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).

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BIO: Inspired at age 6 by a viewing of ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN, Frank Dietz has found success in the film industry as a writer, producer, director, actor and animator. Frank grew up on Long Island, N.Y, and then attended the State University at Oswego, where he majored in theatre and art. He starred in a series of now-cult low-budget horror films like ZOMBIE NIGHTMARE, ROCK N’ ROLL NIGHTMARE, BLACK ROSES and THE JITTERS. Bitten by the film bug, Frank then moved to Los Angeles, where his screenwriting career began. He wrote the scripts for many independent features, including NAKED SOULS, COLD HARVEST and the MAGIC IN THE MIRROR series. In 1996, Frank returned to his artistic roots and joined Walt Disney Studios as an animation artist. His work can be seen in such films as HERCULES, MULAN, TARZAN, FANTASIA 2000, ATLANTIS – THE LOST EMPIRE, TREASURE PLANET and HOME ON THE RANGE. During this period Frank created the Sketchy Things series of classic monster sketchbooks, which became extremely popular with genre fans. In 2007 and 2008, Frank was awarded the very first Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards for “Artist Of The Year.” In 2009 he joined Larry Blamire’s Bantam Street troupe, and appeared in THE LOST SKELETON RETURNS AGAIN and DARK AND STORMY NIGHT, which was produced by Trish Geiger. In 2011…(Read more here).


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