Friday, July 17, 2015

George Scribner: A Conversation

Animator.  Director.  Painter.  Imagineer.  George Scribner has served in all these roles in an illustrious career working for and with the Disney Company.  In 1988, he directed Oliver and Company, a film which I discussed in my previous post, and later he directed Mickey's Philharmagic, an outstanding 4D movie which can be seen in Disney World, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Tokyo Disneyland.  He continues to paint, and you can see some of his artwork on his website.  It was very kind of him to take some time to talk to me about Oliver and Company and about his career at Disney.

NS: What are you most proud of when you look back at Oliver and Company?

GS: Probably the effort to make our stories more current and timely. I grew up with Ruben Blades in Panama and he agreed to let us use “Buscando Guayaba”, the salsa song Tito dances to, for example. We felt we were trying a lot of things that Disney had not done before, and frankly we weren't sure how it would be received. 

NS: Is there anything you'd change if you could go back and do something differently in the film?

GS: There are some scenes of animation I would love to redo. Some other time I guess.

NS: People often talk of the "Disney Renaissance" as beginning with The Little Mermaid, but perhaps The Little Mermaid doesn't get made without the success of Oliver and Company.  What are your thoughts on that?

GS: It's a good point. Mermaid is certainly a more polished film and I get why it's sited as the beginning of this renaissance. Someone once described Oliver as a dress rehearsal for Mermaid.

NS: Do you have any fun memories or interesting facts about "Why Should I Worry"?

GS: It was probably the most fun sequence to direct of all the sequences. Mike Gabriel, the supervising animator, did an amazing job on that song from his boards to leading it.

NS: I read that you were involved with the Mexico Epcot pavilion.  What was your role there? That pavilion is one of my favorites in World Showcase -- I love the nighttime market on the inside.

GS: I directed the redo of the ride from start to finish. I'm really proud of this attraction. I boarded it and built all the simple animation tests for it. I also directed all the talent in Mexico since I speak fluent Spanish.

NS: You also directed Mickey's PhilharMagic.  What's one thing about the making of it that would surprise people?

GS: It took us three years to produce and we built a mock up of the theater in a hangar in LA to test all the Animation. A lot of work went into this.

NS: Are there any projects (Disney or otherwise) that you are currently working on?

GS: Yes, animation projects for Shanghai DISNEYLAND. I go roughly every six months.

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