I had the pleasure of being invited to the first in-person press junket at Disney Animation Studios. There, I was able to watch a couple of episodes of the new Documentary coming to Disney+, Sketchbook. As well as, chat with the animators who are featured in the series.
One of my favorite Disney Documentaries is Waking Sleeping Beauty which is all about the rise and fall of the animation department, as well as its renaissance during the ‘90s. So, a documentary about Disney Animators? Sign me up!
From the creators of Chef’s Table, SKETCHBOOK is the new how-to drawing instructional series, that throws in a documentary vibe. I had no idea how the team behind the series was going to pull this off, but they did! Not only did I find the series heartfelt, and inspirational, but I also feel like I could draw my favorite characters!
WHAT IS SKETCHBOOK?
Each episode of SKETCHBOOK focuses on a single artist from Samantha Vilfort, Hyun-Min Lee, Gabby Capili, Jin Kim, and two men who animated my childhood, Eric Goldberg and Mark Henn. Each artist teaches a how-to of a character they helped create or inspired them to want to become a Disney Animator. During this time, the series also dives into the personal lives of how each one of them came to join the Disney Animation Team. Personally, I love that not only did they choose icons, but a handful of the new generation who have picked up the mantle as well.
I had a chance to watch Hyun-Min Lee who I was unfamiliar. Hyun-Min shares her personal life story alone by drawing Olaf from Frozen, a character she helped to create. I also got to see Eric Goldberg draw The Genie; who is one of Disney’s most iconic characters he created for Aladdin. I truly enjoyed this series even more than I expected to. Seeing these animators draw characters that are so personal to them, along with being vulnerable adds a level I wasn’t expecting.
It’s been a long time since the animation department was given a face. Like with Eric Goldberg and Mark Henn, Disney Animation Fans use to know exactly who was drawing these films. In a way, SKETCHBOOK helps give a face back to those who create the films we love while also introducing animators we may not have known existed.
FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS AND NEVER GIVE UP
What I love most is how similar, yet unique each of their stories is. When sitting down with them during the Press Event each animator shared their stories of struggles and triumphs. On top of the inspiration and viewer enjoyment, their stories of perseverance are one of the main things Mark Henn hopes viewers take from the series.
“…In addition to the fun of seeing everybody draw and the whole how-to aspect of it, the thing I hope people come away with is just the uniqueness and similarity to each of our stories in terms of how we got to where we are. I was turned down three times by Disney. I sent portfolios in, and they finally said, ‘you know, you just don’t have what it takes.’ Henn shares. “And so, in a word, for me, persistence would be something. If you had to have somebody watch my segment and say, well, what did you walk away with? I would say the idea of being persistent.”Mark Henn – Disney Animator
So, if you’re looking for an earnest look inside some of the Disney magic, look no further than SKETCHBOOK. The series comes to Disney+ on April 27th, 2022.