10 Fun Facts About Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Once Upon A Studio that the shorts’ filmmakers revealed during the press conference.
10 Fun Facts About Walt Disney Animation’s Once Upon A Studio
Walt Disney Animation Studios is celebrating 100 years of animation with something very special. Featuring 543 Disney characters from more than 85 feature-length and short films, Once Upon a Studio welcomes heroes and villains, princes and princesses, sidekicks and sorcerers—in all-new hand-drawn and CG animation—to celebrate 10 decades of storytelling, artistry and technological achievements.
During the press conference in support of the October 15th broadcast debut on ABC, Dan Abraham (Writer / Director), Trent Correy (Writer / Director), Yvett Merino (Producer), and Brad Simonsen (Producer) revealed details about all of the work that went into making this short what it is.
Here are ten fun facts about Once Upon A Studio that we learned that day.
Richard Sherman Recorded Feed The Birds For The Short
On a Friday afternoon, in Walt Disney’s office, Richard Sherman came in to sit down at a piano he has spent many Friday afternoons at. He played Walt’s favorite song, Feed The Birds, which is not about feeding birds but rather about how even the smallest little thing can help brighten someone’s day.
Richard did this so that it could be used in Once Upon A Studio, at a very key emotional moment in the short. This is something he used to do all the time for Walt when he was alive.
40+ Original Voice Talents Returned
Over forty original voice talents returned to record new lines for their characters to be used in the short. This included the likes of Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, and Josh Gad. The filmmakers admit to geeking out over getting to meet the little mermaid, Jodi Benson, as well Belle herself, Paige O’Hara.
Some of the folks have passed on, so they got the best sound alikes that they possibly could, and were very persnickety about making them sound right. You only get seconds with each character, so they needed to look and sound exactly how you remember them.
The Animation Is 100% New
The animation used in Once Upon A Studio is one hundred percent new. When you see the Dalmatians sitting in front of the television, it is new animation that is made to look like it is from the 101 Dalmatians. The filmmakers explain that they went to a lot of effort with their a cleanup team and animation team to make sure everything looked as it should. It’s all new, but it’s made to look like it’s of that era.
The Score Is 100% New
The score is also completely new. It is a whole new recorded score by David Metzger that is meant to call back to the original films and characters.
The Characters Live In The World Of The Animation Studio
The filmmakers explain that it was really, really important to make sure that the characters live in this world. Brad Simonsen tells a cute story about one of their artists that was working from home when their little one looked over their shoulder and saw a lot of characters in the building. They had been in the building before, so they turn to their mom and said, “Mommy to the characters live in your building?”
Voices Were Pulled From Original Content
Let it be known that there was no AI used in the making of Once Upon A Studio, and that it was never even considered. There were some characters where the voices were pulled for the original content. For example, they wanted Bobby Driscoll as Peter Pan so they pulled the line they wanted from Peter Pan and isolated it.
The same was done for Jiminy Cricket because the filmmakers did not want to settle for anyone other than Cliff Edwards for Jiminy Cricket. So they had to strip away the music from his original recording digitally.
Jennifer Lee Cried Hearing The Pitch
Dan Abraham and Trent Correy say they will never forget about pitching Once Upon A Studio to Jennifer Lee, the Chief creative officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios. This pitch was done on Zoom and after they explained it, she left the frame because she was so emotional that she couldn’t even talk.
The Studio Employees Love Alan Tudyk
Early on, the filmmakers sent out a request form to studio employees asking them who they would like to see in the short. They admit there were multiple requests to have all of Alan Tudyk’s characters that he voices in a room together. This ultimately did not happen, as he only voices one character in the short — the Mad Hatter.
There Are More Characters On The Cutting Room Floor
They knew they were going to have to cut some stuff out, as happens with all films, and while they will not reveal which characters were removed in hopes that they do something else with them in the future, they admit there are some moments and some characters on the cutting room floor. That said, they did manage to represent all the characters in the short at some point, whether in the background or not.
This Short Represents Passing The Torch
At the beginning of Once Upon A Studio, we see Burny Mattinson walking out of the building with a young intern. The filmmakers reveal that the purpose of that shot is to show that there is a tradition at Disney to pass the torch from generation to generation. They’re standing on the shoulders of greatness for the last 100 years. So that shot was meant to be Burny passing the torch to the next generation, celebrating the past legacy, and looking towards the future.
No matter the level of your love for Disney, you don’t want to miss when Once Upon a Studio makes it broadcast debut on ABC on Oct. 15, 2023.
About Once Upon A Studio
An all-star ensemble of beloved characters from Walt Disney Animation Studios come together in “Once Upon a Studio” for a joyful, entertaining and emotional reunion as they assemble for a spectacular group photo to mark Disney’s 100th anniversary.
Featuring 543 Disney characters from more than 85 feature-length and short films, “Once Upon a Studio” welcomes heroes and villains, princes and princesses, sidekicks and sorcerers—in all-new hand-drawn and CG animation—to celebrate 10 decades of storytelling, artistry and technological achievements.
Directed by Dan Abraham and Trent Correy and produced by Yvett Merino and Bradford Simonsen,
Once Upon a Studio makes it broadcast debut on ABC on Oct. 15, 2023.
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Tessa Smith is a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved Film and TV Critic. She is also a Freelance Writer. Tessa has been in the Entertainment writing business for almost ten years and is a member of several Critics Associations including the Critics Choice Association, Hollywood Critics Association, and the Greater Western New York Film Critics Association.