Be sure and check out this terrific article by animation veteran Floyd Norman about how Walt Disney offered creative latitude in his studio to artists with non-Disney styles like Ward Kimball, Tom Oreb and Walt Peregoy. Norman writes, “As much as he wanted things his way, Walt Disney recognized he needed people on his staff that would challenge, disagree and go against him in his own animation department. This is the stuff that breeds and nourishes creativity and keeps the medium alive and vital.” His closing thought is aimed at today’s Disney studio but is advice that all studios would do well to heed:
Today, I see the Disney Company making some of the same mistakes that were made in the 1970s. Back then, there were artists with strange drawing styles. Some had odd and quirky ideas. There were those who wanted to break new ground with technology. However, these guys just weren’t Disney. They simply didn’t fit. The talented individuals who failed to conform to the company line were allowed to walk out the door – – only to be brought back years later at considerable cost.
Walt Disney Feature Animation has had a name change, and along with that I think they could use a new attitude. This studio could use a roomful of mavericks and “crazy men” to challenge the status quo. All too often the people the studio gets rid of are the very people they should embrace. The artists who refuse to “play by the rules” and make the movies that are acceptable to the establishment.