Disney Animation Studios is releasing a special short film to mark its centennial. “Once Upon A Studio” debuts October 15 on ABC and is filled with an all-star cast of characters from past and present Disney animated films.
During the lengthy presentation the night before at the El Capitan Theater, Moviefone had the pleasure of screening the short film in its entirety. Once Upon A Studio features 543 characters from over 85 feature and short films in brand new hand-drawn and CG animation. Written and directed by Dan Abraham (“Encanto”) and Trent Correy (“Frozen II”), produced by Yvett Merino and Bradford Simonsen.
What is the plot of Once Upon A Studio?
Directors Dan Abraham and Trent Correy describe the short film as a “love letter to Disney animation.” At the Disney Animation Building, famous Disney characters like Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse jump out of their respective paintings as soon as all the animators have left their work, calling on others to do the same as they prepare for a group photo in celebration of the 100th anniversary. yearly Disney anniversary. Heroes, villains, princesses, princes and sidekicks gather to celebrate the 100th anniversary.
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The voices of “Once Upon A Studio”
Abraham and Correy wanted to include as many original voice actors as possible for Once Upon A Studio. Over 40 original voice actors returned for the short film, including Jodi Benson (“The Little Mermaid”), Paige O’Hara (“Beauty and the Beast”) and Josh Gad (“Frozen”).
For any original voice actors who are no longer with us, the filmmakers copied sound clips from the original films or used sound-alikes to cast the role. When asked if AI was used to recreate the voices of any of the characters, Trent Correy replies, “There was no AI used in the making of this short.”
The filmmaker then explains the process of how each character sounded exactly like the original.
Trent Correy: We were very lucky that everyone we reached and who is still with us came back. And then we wanted to add some nostalgic voices to the short film.
Dan Abraham: And you know, some of the people died, right? So we got the best soundalikes we could.
Correy and Abraham realized that they would only have seconds with each character when they appeared on screen, and it was important that they looked and sounded exactly how everyone remembered them. Producer Yvett Merino chimes in: “And there are some lines in there that actually come from the original film. So if the line was exactly the same as the original film it came from, we picked that line.” This was the case with Genie’s line in the short film, portrayed by the late Robin Williams.
Dan Abraham: There were a few moments. In the end, I really wanted Cliff Edwards for Jiminy Cricket. I didn’t want to get a soundalike. So they had to digitally remove the music from his original recording. Some scientific thought leaders were able to figure this out. And yes, we have Cliff Edwards there, which was important to us.
Trent Correy: And the idea was that sometimes you only have three seconds with these characters, so they have to look, feel and sound exactly the way you remember them to bring you back to that moment.
The Disney Legends
“Once Upon A Studio” is more than just an homage to the characters from classic Disney films. It’s also about the people who worked on it and were involved in creating the Disney magic. Abraham and Correy made sure to include Disney legends like Burny Mattinson, who appears at the beginning of the short.
Burny Mattinson was an animator, director, producer and story artist for Disney. Mattinson has been employed since 1953 and has been with the company for over 70 years, making him Disney’s longest-serving employee. His work can be seen in films such as The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, The Jungle Book and many others. It was important to the filmmakers to include a legend like Mattinson in the short film. Seeing him walking side by side with a Disney intern at the beginning of the film symbolizes Disney’s tradition of passing the torch from generation to generation.
Another Disney legend featured in the short is composer and songwriter Richard Sherman. Sherman is known for his work in films such as “Mary Poppins,” where he won an Oscar for the song “Chim Chim Cher-ee.” Sherman doesn’t make a cameo in the short; However, viewers can look forward to hearing him perform “Feed The Birds.” This was re-shot for the short and shot in Walt’s office, just as Sherman used to play for Walt.
What else is there to know about Once Upon A Studio?
- The first version of the short film was around 12 to 13 minutes long.
- The original animator for Aladdin’s Genie, Eric Goldberg, worked on this project as hand-drawn animation supervisor.
- All animations shown in the short film are brand new. The hand-drawn characters remained hand-drawn and the CG characters were created through CG animation.
- When Jennifer Lee heard Abraham and Correy’s pitch for “Once Upon A Studio,” she burst into tears: “I don’t know how, but we have to do this.”
- The score for the short film is completely new and was recorded by Dave Metzger.
- The short film is approximately eight and a half minutes long.
Where can I watch Once Upon A Studio?
“Once Upon A Studio” will debut October 15 as part of “The Wonderful World of Disney: Disney’s 100th Anniversary Celebration” on ABC. The short film will be released on Disney+ on October 16th. It will also screen before Disney’s “Wish” on November 22nd.