Animator who worked on "The Lion King," "Aladdin" and "Mulan" teams up with former producer for unconventional animated movie
Disney Animation veterans Aaron Blaise and Chuck Williams have been working outside the studio system for three years, but are turning to Kickstarter to get back in with "Art Story," an animated feature that sends a young boy and his grandfather on the adventure of lifetime when they get stuck in famous paintings.
"The thing about studios like DreamWorks and Disney/Pixar, especially, is they tend to grow their directors from within — and once you leave the big studio world and you step out of that circle, to get back in is pretty difficult," Blaise told TheWrap. "So we decided, 'Why don't we step back out and look at it from a different way."
After noticing Zach Braff and Rob Thomas' much-publicized success on Kickstarter, Blaise and Williams decided to be the first to take the same approach for producing an animated film.
Like classic family films "The NeverEnding Story" and "The Pagemaster," the characters in "Art Story" are magically transported into worlds that only exist on paper — or canvas, rather. A meticulous 11-year-old and his eccentric grandfather (left) have to set aside their differences and work together to navigate some of the most famous paintings in the world.
Blaise and Williams have been kicking around the idea for "Art Story" since they worked together on Disney's 2003 animated feature, "Brother Bear." Blaise co-directed the Oscar-nominated film, while Williams produced.
Almost a decade later, the duo believes that technology has finally caught up to their unique vision.
"Through a combination of hand-drawn, CG animation, and different rendering techniques, you can make stuff look like a Van Gogh or a Lichtenstein. You can really make those worlds come alive. The technology's there."
While Hollywood has mostly abandoned hand-drawn animation in favor of CG, Blaise and Williams plan on merging both styles as their characters hop from recognizable paintings that may include Grant Wood's "American Gothic," Vincent van Gogh's "Starry Night" or M.C. Escher's "Relativity" (right).
The "Art Story" Kickstarter is asking the public for $350,000 — a relatively small figure compared to the $2 million Braff and Thomas' crowd funding campaigns asked for earlier this year. While the money won't be enough to produce the film alone, it will allow the filmmakers to create an extensive pitch, including a polished script, artwork taking investors through the entire story, a video reel previewing the animation, and even a children's book.
"Those assets, along with a lot of public support that we hope to get out to demonstrate from the Kickstarter campaign, we think will make it a slam-dunk for the studios," Williams added.
Want to learn more about "Art Story"? Watch the short video below: