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For the first time ever, the director of a Disney feature film is using crowdfunding to launch an animated feature project. Art Story, which debuted yesterday on Kickstarter, is a new project from Aaron Blaise and Chuck Williams.

Blaise, who is one of the only artists who can claim to have worked at Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida on the studio’s opening day in 1989 and its closing day in 2004, animated on many of the modern-day Disney classics including Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King, before he co-directed Brother Bear. Chuck Williams was the producer of the latter film, which went on to be nominated for a Best Animated Feature Oscar.

More recently, Blaise and Williams were set to be the directors of The Legend of Tembo, which was to have been the first feature from Digital Domain’s Tradition Studios. The very public meltdown of that studio last year left them out in the cold, but they’ve bounced back from that experience with this project of their own, an unconventional and creative CGI family film about a boy and his grandfather who become trapped in the world of fine art. Here is their pitch for the project:

The Art Story Kickstarter is asking for $350,000 over 47 days. The campaign has raised nearly $17,000 in less than 24 hours, which puts it on a solid pace to achieve its goal. Blaise and Williams point out that the production of the film will need additional funding—in the tens of millions—and that the money they are raising will allow them to create a children’s storybook, script, development art and storyreel. The majority of the Kickstarter rewards, such as the children’s book, film pitch book and physical rewards will be honored even if the film doesn’t make it to production.

The Kickstarter rewards include all the usuals—development blog access, digital download of children’s storybook, T-shirts, posters—but also some unique items, such as a PDF of their film pitch book, the chance to sit in on a story meeting, and even a three-month apprenticeship to participate in the development of the film. They’ve set up the Kickstarter in a unique way that allows every backer to experience and participate in the development of an animated feature; even the $1 donation level lets backers make their voice heard in the development process by suggesting paintings they want to see in the film.

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