5 Things You Didn't Know About Disney Shorts ⋆ My Sparkling Life

Storytelling has been around more ages.  Stories create feelings and emotions that connect with people in different ways.  Whether the story is in a book, or on the screen it’s always interesting to learn about the process from the storytellers themselves.  I had just that opportunity the other day when I was able to sit down with 4 amazing story tellers about their shorts in the new Disney Shorts Blu-ray/DVD coming out August 18.

We started our morning with a delicious breakfast out on the terris of Disneyland’s Grand Californian Hotel, then headed into the conference room for a Q&A session with Mike Gabriel who directed Lorenzo, Peter Del Vecho who produced Frozen Fever, Mark Henn who directed John Henry & Dorothy McKim who produced Get a Horse!, The Ballad of Nessie, Tick Tock Tale, Prep & Landing and Operation Secret Santa.

For more than nine decades, the name Walt Disney has been preeminent in the field of family entertainment. From humble beginnings as a cartoon studio in the 1920s to today’s global corporation, The Walt Disney Company continues to proudly provide quality entertainment for every member of the family, across America and around the world.

Walt Disney Animation Studios is releasing TODAY (8/18) on Blu-ray and Digital HD an extraordinary new collection of award-winning and beloved short films including the never-before-released Frozen Fever, starring Frozen’s Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Sven and Kristoff, and the Oscar-nominated Lorenzo. The Short Films Collection also includes the 2012 groundbreaking Mickey Mouse cartoon, Get A Horse! as well as hailed Oscar® winners Paperman and Feast. Enjoy them together for the first time in this must-own collection, featuring all-new extras including introductions and interviews with the Disney Animation filmmakers themselves. 

It’s such an honor to sit with these amazing film makers to ask questions, and get some insights as to what drives & inspires them to create these films. They were all excited to be there and to share a few things about Disney Shorts that you may not have known.

1) Not all shorts have Easter Eggs … As you probably know Disney artists love to add in Easter Eggs.  As Disney fans, we love finding Easter Eggs within the Disney films, and short films because they are often referenced to other films and pop culture. During the panel, we learned that each of the members of the panel has all appeared in full-length animated films as background characters. You can find Peter Del Vecho in The Princess and the Frog, Mark Henn in Finding Nemo, Dorothy McKim in Beauty and the Beast and Mike Gabriel in Oliver and Company.

When we asked about Easter Eggs hidden within the short films in the collection, we were told about a few you may have noticed, such as the appearance of Baymax as a reflection on one of the Snowgies in Frozen Fever & Oswald appearing in Get a Horse. But Mike Gabriel says that he does not like Easter Eggs and feel they take away from the film.  He said that when he directed Pocahontas, in the background of one of the scenes some of the Indians had cell phones…but he had them take them out.  So, needless to say, you will not find an Easter Egg in Lorenzo.

We were all dying when Peter Del Vecho told us that there is an Easter Egg hidden in Frozen that has yet to be found by anyone…and no he wouldn’t tell…I don’t know about you, but I think I might just watch it a few more times with a magnifying glass.

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2) There Has Only Been 1 Featured Movie To Be Made From A Short.  Mark Gabriel explained that many times shorts are “created from a technical side to test out a new process for a feature.” Dorothy McKim mentioned that with shorts, many times it’s also a great opportunity to “test out talent.” The shorts are not really ever done by a “big” director who’s already done a feature; but many times it’s someone who might be in animation who pitched an idea and waits to see if John Lasseter gives the thumbs up to move forward. I’m sure by now you’re dying to know what short was the only one to move on to a feature…”The Sorcerers Apprentice” went on to be made into Fantasia

3) More Research Than You Think Goes Into Making A Short.  Mike shared how he had a Tango short and the production team had to learn how to TANGO! The team wanted to find out how the real Tango looked and was done, so for the film they brought dancers in so they could study to movements and style. He said, “That was one of those fun Disney moments when you’re watching Tango dancers in your story room!”

Dorothy talked about her work on Get a Horse! and how the team wanted everything to be authentic to the original short. They headed over to Walt Disney Imagineering, which has the library that Jimmy McDonald created for all the sound effects back when Walt was alive.  The library curator demonstrated how to use the props and they used those actual ones in the short. 

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Peter said that for Frozen Fever they built on the research that was already done for Frozen.  “We went up to the Ice Hotel in Canada and spent a day doing interviews all day long. The way that research trip influenced the short was that we set the short in springtime.” 

Mark and his team did a research trip to Talcott, WV, the location of the Big Bend Tunnel that John Henry supposedly had dug. The team spent a couple of days there at the John Henry Festival. Along with that trip, they also went to Washington D.C., to the National Gallery, where they had access to artwork, that most people don’t have access to, related to John Henry.

4)  Animators Are Humble and Often Touched By How Much There Films Connect With Fans.  Dorothy’s discussed a story about Meet the Robinsons – a story about adoption. Steve Anderson, the director of Meet the Robinsons, was adopted. When he was adopted, his adoptive parents gave him a letter and told him when he was 18 he could open it and read it, which entailed details about his birth mother (Dorothy stated he was about 6 years old at the time he got the letter). Dorothy said that for years Steve wanted to open the letter, and yet, all of a sudden, Steve was 24 and had completely forgotten about it. He never opened it. “When we made that movie, so many people that were adopted connected with that movie. To have people come to us and say that really changed my life and connected with me… that’s my ultimate thing. To reach out and help people… ” The whole room was teary eyed at this point, then you have Mark share his story….

 “We make these films first for ourselves and what we believe is going to be really fun and entertaining and put them out there and hope that the audience is going to embrace it as much as we have. I had a case yesterday…coming to an event like this, people are so amazingly kind about how things have affected their lives. I had a young man come up to me yesterday and tell me that “Aladdin saved my life.” I got chills talking to the guy.” – Mark.  

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Then Peter chimed in with his story: “Just coming to D23 and seeing the people who took the time to actually make their own costumes! Even the new Anna dress… the fact that people create that and all the YouTube videos, all of that. But certainly for the movie, a lot of them centered around the song ‘Let It Go.’ The one that sticks out to me the most was a guy who had fought in the Gulf War and had lost both his legs. He said that the song Let It Go made him realize that he needed to accept who he was. Stories like that are extremely powerful.” I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room at this point.

As artists they hope to make that connection, but are still blown away and feel completely blessed when they do.

5)  Shorts Are Artist Driven.  A good idea can come from anywhere, and one of the things that make Disney short films unique is that anyone at the Walt Disney Animation Studios can pitch an idea for a short film. They are not top people in the company telling the artist what is going to be done next, rather short films can come from any one, like the artist themselves. 

Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection includes:

  • Frozen Fever (2015) 
  • Feast (2014)
  • Get A Horse! (2013) 
  • Paperman (2012)
  • Tangled Ever After (2012)
  • The Ballad of Nessie (2011) 
  • Tick Tock Tale (2010) 
  • Prep & Landing: Operation Secret Santa (2010) 
  • How to Hook Up Your Home Theater (2007) 
  • The Little Matchgirl (2006) 
  • Lorenzo (2004) 
  • John Henry (2000)

We loved all these films, although there were a few that seemed to connect with us more than the others.  Feast is my favorite, The little Matchgirl and Tick Tock Tale really touches my soul.  While Paperman & How To Hook Up Your Home Theater had us laughing.  We definitely adore this collection and love that each is a different tecnique in animation and each beautifully and artfully done.

Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection is available August 18 on Blu-Ray and DVD.

You might also like to learn about:

Animation Film Slate | Live Action Film Slate | Playmation | Parks & Resorts News

This event was part of a paid press trip to Anaheim for the #D23Expo, all experiences and opinions are 100% my own.

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