Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Story development in Walt's Kansas City days.

Michael Barrier's WHEN RUDY MET WALT series has got me thinking again about a paragraph on page 67 of Neal Gabler's book on Walt:

"There was one area, however, in which Walt Disney did not improvise. . . . he wrote out his scenarios in scrupulous detail as if they were live action scripts. His story for Cinderella began: 'FLASH CLOSEUP OF ONE FAT LADY IN HAMMOCK reading Eat and Grow Thin - another girl very skinny sitting in chair - they are eating out of it - slim girl puts down book - she is cross-eyed - she begins talking to fat girl - fat girl answers back.' In the margins, in blue pencil, were the initials of the animators for each scene: D for Walt himself, H for Harman, R for Ising, and U for Iwwerks."

I am fascinated with these early stages of Disney's career, as an artist myself I am interested in beginings, how did others evolve? I e-mailed Michael Barrier about this script and he mentioned he doesn't know of any scripts existing for the LAUGH-O-GRAMS, Alice yes. As with many points in his book Gabler makes no mention of a source for his quote in his end notes. Is there really a copy of the CINDERELLA script out there in private hands or in the Disney Archives?

We know that some form of script was used on the OSWALD and ALICE shorts. ALICE'S WONDERLAND titles credit Walt for Scenario and Direction, as we know, that film was a LAUGH-O-GRAM production. My guess is that Walt did use scripts on the LAUGH-O-GRAM fairy tales as they are too tightly structured in a story sense even for that early period.

This begs the next consideration, were there some kind of storyboards? Maybe quick stick figure sketches, I'm sure that the six panel story pages did not suddenly appear during Oswald. Animating from a few typed or hand written paragraphs seems illogical. One thing is for certain, by the time ALICE was in full swing in Hollywood, Ub was preparing the work for the animators.

We have Rudy Ising's experiences at LAUGH-O-GRAM studios in WALT'S PEOPLE volume 1, but I think Michael Barrier is right in saying that there is still more to unearth about this stage in Walt's career. Any theories?

No comments: