Saturday, July 18, 2015

Animator’s Zen

There’s been a lot of talk this week about the closing of an attraction at Disney's Hollywood theme park called The Magic of Disney Animation. 
That got me to thinking.
May I share my thoughts in the form of a zen moment?

Animator’s Zen

Between 1976 and 2004 I made my living 
As a film animator.

1976 to 2004.
That’s (let me see) 28 years!
If my arithmetic is correct.
You'd better double-check those figures.
(I’m an artist, 
Not a mathematician.)

I animated by hand.
That is I drew each frame of film for a movie
(Up to twenty-four of them per second of screen time)
Using pencil and paper.
No computers.

Oh, the things my pencil brought to cartoon life!
Mice, ducks, elephants, rabbits, lions, aliens, humans,
Horses, bears, goats, gorillas, goannas, gargoyles. 
And other things that are harder to describe.

Of course,
Like us all I started at the bottom.
There’s a saying in the animation business,
“It ain’t easy!”
And boy, did I learn the truth of that statement.
But with perseverance and some good luck,
(And my zen don’t forget)
I eventually rose up a little within my profession.

After many years of hard work I became
An overnight success.
I was hired to draw
For Walt Disney Feature Animation.
The Big Time at last.
There I got to work 
(Or should I say play?) 
With some famous cartoon movie stars.
Stars I’d loved as a child, such as
Mickey Mouse.
Donald Duck.
Winnie the Pooh.
And new stars I helped bring to life like
Roger Rabbit.
And plenty more,
But they’re the ones that come easily to mind.

And let’s not forget 
All the wonderful people 
I met in the business,
Both artists and management,
Who showed me the possibilities of cinematic animation art,
While mentoring me to my own higher artistic attainment,
As well as showing me personal kindnesses uncountable.
I love you!
I’m so glad we shared some time
Creating those wonderful movies together,
On our journey through this life into infinity!

28 Years of animation.
Fifteen of them at Disney.
It didn’t seem that long.
It went by like a flash.

Like life.
It goes by a lot faster 
If we enjoy it.
And it’s over in a flash.

So smile and be happy!
That’s what life is for.
Don’t waste it being a sourpuss!

Remember there is an endless supply of zen in the universe!
Plenty for everybody!
With zen on your side,
You’ve got nothing to worry about.

And Mr Disney,
You who advised that 
Wishing upon a star 
Might make our dreams come true,
If you’re listening wherever you are,
Mr Disney,
Thank you for the opportunity 
For me 
To realize 

I dedicate this zen moment 
To those 
Who worked for 
Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida
Between 1989 and 2004.

Your kindness is not forgotten
By a brash and reckless artist.

The cinematic moments you made 
Have lasted a generation’s lifetime.


  1. Best thing I've read in a very long time. I miss working with you Sam. I'll always be proud of the work we did.

    1. Thanks Ron. I feel the same way (except the part about working with Sam). Course, we worked our asses off to make our dreams come true! Thanks for reading... And enjoy your Rusty!

  2. How blessed we are to have had the opportunity to do what we loved doing, at Disney, on films, with our very own wonderful, amazing animation family. Truly magic!

  3. Well said Pam. Thanks for sharing. Those were very good times. Not that these times suck... but you know what I mean. Hope you continue to enjoy a Rusty one now and then!