031: Don Hahn, Waking Sleeping Beauty


The new film Waking Sleeping Beauty is an incredible look at the animation department at Disney from 1984 to 1994. It easily became one of the best films I saw all year, and I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in animation. My guest directed the film, and shared so much in coming on the podcast. Enjoy! 

(L-R) Don Hahn and Peter Schneider during the "Walking Sleeping Beauty" Avid session on May 8, 2009 in London, England. (Picture by Jorge Herrera/WireImage). © Disney Enterprises.

(L-R) Don Hahn and Peter Schneider during the "Walking Sleeping Beauty" Avid session on May 8, 2009 in London, England. (Picture by Jorge Herrera/WireImage). © Disney Enterprises.

The 1975 graduating class of Cal Arts included the future stars of theanimation business like John Lasseter, Brad Bird and John Musker. From WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY directed by Don Hahn, produced by Peter Schneider and Don Hahn. © Disney Enterprises.

The 1975 graduating class of Cal Arts included the future stars of theanimation business like John Lasseter, Brad Bird and John Musker. From WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY directed by Don Hahn, produced by Peter Schneider and Don Hahn. © Disney Enterprises.

The Walt Disney animation department pose for one final picture before theyvacate the Disney main lot circa 1984 from WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY directed by Don Hahn, produced by Peter Schneider and Don Hahn. © Disney Enterprises.

The Walt Disney animation department pose for one final picture before theyvacate the Disney main lot circa 1984 from WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY directed by Don Hahn, produced by Peter Schneider and Don Hahn. © Disney Enterprises.

The Little Mermaid directors Ron Clements, John Musker with lyricist HowardAshman (as drawn by Musker) in WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY directed by Don Hahn, produced by Peter Schneider and Don Hahn. © Disney Enterprises.

The Little Mermaid directors Ron Clements, John Musker with lyricist HowardAshman (as drawn by Musker) in WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY directed by Don Hahn, produced by Peter Schneider and Don Hahn. © Disney Enterprises.

From the early 1990s, Peter Schneider, Roy Disney and Jeffrey Katzenbergtake a break from a story retreat in WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY directed by DonHahn, produced by Peter Schneider and Don Hahn. © Disney Enterprises.

From the early 1990s, Peter Schneider, Roy Disney and Jeffrey Katzenbergtake a break from a story retreat in WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY directed by DonHahn, produced by Peter Schneider and Don Hahn. © Disney Enterprises.

Director Don Hahn looks behind the screens of the thrilling, contentious,successful, and heartbreaking animation renaissance that bred films like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King in his new documentaryWAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY. © Disney Enterprises.

Director Don Hahn looks behind the screens of the thrilling, contentious,successful, and heartbreaking animation renaissance that bred films like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King in his new documentaryWAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY. © Disney Enterprises.

Jeffrey Katzenberg prepares to wake the sleeping princess (as drawn by KirkWise) in the documentary WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY directed by Don Hahn, produced by Peter Schneider and Don Hahn. © Disney Enterprises

Jeffrey Katzenberg prepares to wake the sleeping princess (as drawn by KirkWise) in the documentary WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY directed by Don Hahn, produced by Peter Schneider and Don Hahn. © Disney Enterprises


Index of significant people whose names Don and I mention in the interview:

"Nine Old Men" The original key Walt Disney animators, many of whom became mentors for the next generation of animators like Brad Bird, Tim Burton, John Lasseter, and the entire class at CalArts. Les Clark, Marc Davis, Ollie Johnston, Milt Kahl, Ward Kimball, Eric Larson, John Lounsbery, Wolfgang "Woolie" Reitherman, Frank Thomas. Source: HallowHill.com 

Allers, Roger Director, The Lion King. Source: IMDb

Howard Ashman shares his philosophy of musical theater and how it applies toanimation in the documentary WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY directed by Don Hahn,produced by Peter Schneider and Don Hahn. © Disney Enterprises.

Howard Ashman shares his philosophy of musical theater and how it applies toanimation in the documentary WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY directed by Don Hahn,produced by Peter Schneider and Don Hahn. © Disney Enterprises.

Ashman, Howard Lyricist/Producer, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast. Howard worked with composer Alan Menken to create many memorable and Academy-award-winning songs. Before working at Disney, Howard and Alan wrote a New York stage musical adaptation of a 1960s cult film Little Shop of Horrors. Howard died in 1991 of AIDS. Source: Disney Legends; Waking Sleeping Beauty

Benson, Jodi Voice of Ariel. Also voiced Barbie in Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3. Source: IMDb

Katzenberg, Jeffrey Studio chairman at Disney (and later founder of Dreamworks Animation). Drove the animators at Disney to their limits and polarized many. After Frank Wells' death, Jeffrey left Disney when Michael Eisner would not immediately appoint him to fill the now vacant position. Upon leaving Disney, he was approached by Microsoft to create a studio for them (can you imagine that? Apple vs Microsoft, Pixar vs Microsoft Animation), but instead, he founded DreamWorks animation with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen. Source: fastcompany.com; Waking Sleeping Beauty

Animator Glen Keane at work late at night on a scene of Ariel from The LittleMermaid in a scene from Don Hahn’s documentary WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTYdirected by Don Hahn, produced by Peter Schneider and Don Hahn. © Disney Enterprises.

Animator Glen Keane at work late at night on a scene of Ariel from The LittleMermaid in a scene from Don Hahn’s documentary WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTYdirected by Don Hahn, produced by Peter Schneider and Don Hahn. © Disney Enterprises.

Keane, Glen Animator at Disney, responsible for animating such characters as Ariel, the Beast, and Pocahontas. Also a very significant creative force behind Tangled. Glen was the original director of that film, before he stepped down after a heart attack in 2008, but he continued to guide the production. Fun fact: Glen is the son of Bill Keane, creator of the Family Circus cartoon strips. Source: Den of Geek

Kimball, Ward see "Nine Old Men."

Kroyer, Bill Disney animator, one of the first to make the leap to computer animation in Trop (1982). Now Bill is the Senior Animation Director at Rhythm and Hues Studios. Source: Rhythm and Hues Commercials

Larson, Eric see "Nine Old Men."

Lasseter, John Animator at Disney, later became a founder of Pixar Animation Studios, director of Toy Story and most of the original Pixar shorts.

Lounsbery, John see "Nine Old Men."

Lund, Dan Visual effects animator at Disney who worked on almost every major hand-drawn feature from Disney Animation from Beauty and the Beast to 2011's Winnie the Pooh. Also directed the documentary Dream On Silly Dreamer Source: IMDb 

Mcarther, Sarah Producer, The Lion King. Source: IMDb 

Songwriters Alan Menken and Howard Ashman discuss the music for “Be OurGuest” from Beauty & the Beast during a New York recording session. From thedocumentary WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY directed by Don Hahn, produced by Peter Schneider and Don Hahn. © Disney Enterprises.

Songwriters Alan Menken and Howard Ashman discuss the music for “Be OurGuest” from Beauty & the Beast during a New York recording session. From thedocumentary WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY directed by Don Hahn, produced by Peter Schneider and Don Hahn. © Disney Enterprises.

Menken, Alan Composer on almost every Disney musical of the 1990s, including Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, and Hunchback of Notre Dame. Has won more Academy awards than any other living composer in Oscar history. Most recently wrote the songs and the score for Tangled. Source: IMDb

Miller, Rob Disney CEO predating Michael Eisner. Rob married Walt's daughter Diane and worked closely with Walt in many film and other projects. Even though his accomplishments include starting Touchstone, greenlighting Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, creating The Disney Channel, and initiating the first attempts at Disney in computer animation, Miller was seen as the cause of the destruction of the company, and when Michael Eisner and Frank Wells came to replace him, they were seen as saviors (ironically, this attitude was repeated when Bob Iger was seen in a similar light as he replaced Michael 21 years later). Source: Mouse Planet

Musker, John Director at Disney, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Princess and the Frog Source: IMDb 

Ranft, Joe Influential story artist whose vision can be found throughout all the early Pixar feature films. Joe also voiced Heimlich the caterpillar, and Wheezy the penguin. Cars is dedicated to him, as it was the last film he worked on before his tragic automobile accident. Source: IMDb 

Rees, Jerry Animator at Disney starting in the 1970s. Jerry directed The Brave Little Toaster. Source: Cartoon Brew 

Reitherman, Wolfgang "Woolie" see "Nine Old Men."

Rydstrom, Gary Sound designer at Pixar, also directed the short film Lifted. Gary's first feature film (as a director) was going to be Newt, before Pixar canceled it. Gary has been a sound designer for many non-Pixar films as well, including Minority Report, Saving Private Ryan, and Terminator 2. Source: IMDb 

Peter Schneider produced the new documentary WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY, directed by Don Hahn. © Disney Enterprises.

Peter Schneider produced the new documentary WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY, directed by Don Hahn. © Disney Enterprises.

Schneider, Peter Started at Disney in 1985 as studio president and head of the feature-film animation unit. In 2001, he left Disney animation to form his own Broadway production company, after working significantly on the theatrical productions Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. Source: The New York Times

Scribner, George Animator, The Black Cauldron. Also worked on Smurfs and directed Oliver & Company. Source: IMDb

Selick, Henry Director of The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach for Disney. After Disney decided not to make stop-motion films, Selick directed Coraline with Focus Features. In 2010, Selick was invited by John Lasseter to sign a contract with Disney/Pixar, to make stop-motion features. Selick agreed and now lives in the Bay Area Source: Variety

Sherman, Robert and Richard Brothers who wrote the songs for many Disney films, such as The Jungle Book and Mary Poppins. Source: IMDb 

Sting Musician brought on to write the songs for The Emperor's New Groove before it was changed to be a comedy and was still a darker dramatic film. Source: The Emperor's New Groove Special Edition DVD

Styler, Trudie Wife of Sting. Directed the unreleased documentary about Disney, The Sweatbox. Source: IMDb

Thomas, Frank see "Nine Old Men."

Trousdale, Gary Director, Beauty and the Beast. Source: IMDb 

Wells, Frank President and Chief Operating Officer of Disney (1984-1994). He was recruited from Warner Bros. by Roy E. Disney along with Michael Eisner as Chairman and CEO. In Waking Sleeping Beauty, Don says that Frank was an important character in keeping the egos of Roy Disney, Michael Eisner, and Jeffrey Katzenberg in balance. When he died in a helicopter crash in 1994, his absence caused the tension among those men to boil to its breaking point. Source: The New York Times; Waking Sleeping Beauty

Howard Ashman excoriates directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale during atough story meeting on Beauty and the Beast (as drawn by Kirk Wise) from the newdocumentary WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY directed by Don Hahn, produced by Peter Schneider and Don Hahn. © Disney Enterprises.

Howard Ashman excoriates directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale during atough story meeting on Beauty and the Beast (as drawn by Kirk Wise) from the newdocumentary WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY directed by Don Hahn, produced by Peter Schneider and Don Hahn. © Disney Enterprises.

Wise, Kirk Director, Beauty and the Beast. Source: IMDb


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