The Cal Arts Brigade … and Tilting at Windmills
“Chief has to DIE. The picture doesn’t work if he just breaks his LEG. Copper doesn’t have enough motivation.”
Ron Clements looked at me intently, shaking his head. Ron was a supervising animator on “The Fox and the Hound” who was in the process of making a jump into the story department. He was also something of a perfectionist and (for some reason) wanted the story to be better.
Ron had worked for a season at Hanna-Barbera and then entered the Disney training program, apprenticing with Frank Thomas. Within a decade he would be co-directing Disney’s breakout blockbuster “The Little Mermaid,” but just now he was unhappy with the story arc of “The Fox and the Hound.”
I agree with you, Ron,” I said. ” Agree completely. But do you think Art Stevens will buy a change like that?”
“I don’t know. But we have to try. The picture needs to be stronger.” ...
The rest of the tale here. ...
I've learned over the course of time that studio politics is much the same no matter what era you're talking about: Back-stabbing and defending territory are the order of the day, whether it's the 1930s, 1990s, or the 21st century.
The end of the seventies and beginning of the eighties was an interesting time at Disney Feature Animation. Much of the old guard had exited, and a lot of young, eager employees from the California Institute of the Arts had entered. The above is the story of when the Cal Arts brigade tried to flex its muscle ... and met stout resistance.
It's also the story of how pictures end up with less than great stuff in them.