Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The History of Lucky — Part 3

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them
—Walt Disney

Thursday, January 8, 2004. Within days, David Stainton, the president of Walt Disney Feature Animation, would walk in to the animation building on the Disney/MGM studios lot and shut down the Florida animation division (for more on this: http://www.wesh.com/news/2757480/detail.html). Some still had hope that Disney’s decision would be different but we felt it was inevitable. Our window of opportunity was now.

We knew that all eyes were focused on the Florida meeting and the timing was crucial. From my past experience with the news media I knew that Friday was an important news day; weekend news was usually fluff and anything important had already been written by Friday. If we were going to announce it had to be on Thursday…but were we ready?

We still had not moved into our new studio location and the final details had not been worked out with our investor. If we announced too early no one would care, if too late, we would be overshadowed by the news of Disney’s decision. So, we we sent out a press release on Thursday afternoon hoping it wasn't too late.

Jim Hill of jimhillmedia.com sent me an email with in hours of our press release. “…I just wanted to say that I'm thrilled to hear that you & the crew from WDFAF are setting up Legacy Animation Studios," he wrote. "So much so that I just rewrote the end of tomorrow's "WDFAF Countdown" story to prominently feature your press release as well as pointing out the parallels between what you're doing & what Don Bluth did back in 1979.”

I was very excited about such a fast response from a website that had become the watch station for the recent Disney animation drama. That evening I wrote the following email to the Legacy members:

Hi Everyone,

Well, a lot has happened this week and I feel better than ever about Legacy's progress. Tomorrow we begin our move into our new offices and it feels pretty good! I can't wait for you guys to see the new digs. The Historic Edgewater Hotel in Winter Garden (circa 1927) will be our new home. We have three rooms with beautiful hard wood floors, high ceilings and a small door that allows people to enter the mind and life of John Lasseter for 15 minutes at a time (but that's another story for another time). There's still a little construction to be completed, but David and I plan on moving in a few things over tomorrow.

We are still negotiating with our investor, but after talking to her this afternoon, I'm confident that we will be able to come to an agreement next week. Come Monday, my plan is to start moving forward on our short film (what ever it may be). If you are registered on the forum, don't forget that the straw poll opens at Midnight tonight and an will stay open until midnight Friday.

In other news, Legacy made it's first press release to many publications around the country, both print and internet. Jim Hill of Jim Hill Media will be featuring Legacy Animation Studios in tomorrow's article, 3 days and counting: The Walt Disney Feature Animation-Florida countdown clock ticks on. It's a very nice mention that ends the article with:

"Here’s hoping that Eddie Pittman’s “leap of faith” pays off in a really big way. Both for him & his very brave crew of former WDFAF artists and technicians. As well as all us animation fans.

I sincerely hope that Legacy Animation Studios is a huge, huge success. Showing the Walt Disney Company – once & for all – what a huge mistake it made when it decided to walk away from Feature Animation Florida & cut all of those talented artists & technicians loose."

It's exactly what we hoped for, a little boost right before we are overshadowed by the big event at the studio Monday. I hope we can all find hope in Legacy.

More to come...


"It's kind of fun to do the impossible."
-- Walt Disney


By the next day the responses started to roll in. In no time we were swamped with emails and phone calls. It quickly became overwhelming. The media wanted interviews and I found myself in a spotlight I had not anticipated. It made me more that a bit uncomfortable and I knew it opened me up to ridicule. But I was representing a group of artists I believed in and that certainly gave me strength.

The emails were a definite source of inspiration. We couldn't help but be encouraged to find that people from all over the world were supporting our effort.

Most sent congratulations:

“Just saw the press release on Animation Nation, and wanted to wish you guys all the best. What everyone always says SHOULD be done, you are actually DOING, and I think that's awesome. “

“Give 'em hell. Do something monumental! Make a film that will make the whole of the industry take heed, and make Micheal Eisner wish he had never been born... Perhaps you guys will be the first breath of life the artform so badly needs. Cheers!”

“Just a friendly greeting from an animation student and fan in New York. I was overjoyed to see your press release about the new studio, and await the team's work with great anticipation. Best of luck.”

“Good luck, there are a lot of people pulling for your company.

“ I'm an annual passholder of WDW and Disney fan, and I heard about the new animation company you are forming after the way Disney treated you. I just wanted to voice my support and hope that your company will succeed. I will remember your company name, and will certainly go and see any production, or purchase any product, that I hear you have produced, instead of a Disney direct-to-video sequel. I appreciate the extra work that goes into making a feature animation project, and I can tell the difference in the quality between what you do and what television animation studios do. I wish you the best, and hope you continue the tradition of quality animation. “

“I was happy to hear about the formation of your company. 2-D animation is so far from over!! The Disney suits have their heads up their arses. Anyways, good luck! I'm looking forward to your future productions.”

Some thanked us for carrying on something they had loved all their lives and still believed in.

“My family and I are big Disney fans! We believe the company has lost it's way, that Walt and Roy worked so hard to create so many years ago. Cheaper is not always better especially in the art of animation. We look forward to seeing your team's work soon. From what we have read about your new company you seem to have what was the heart of Disney working for you. If that is the case your company will be a huge success. Thank you very much for trying to save the spirit of Walt Disney. May God bless you and your team!”

“I am 32 years old. I have a wife a son. I have been watching disney animated movies since I can remember. I cannot tell you how happy I am that you people are getting together to create a TRADITIONAL ANIMATION STUDIO. I believe WITH ALL MY HEART that it is CONTENT and STORY which drives the animated film. I don't know exactly what films like Aladdin, Lion King, and Beauty and the Beast had but it was something that you have to find. Once you get it...make it your company's mantra...your mission statement because it's something that Disney has forgotten and something you must rediscover.”

Others wanted a piece of the action:

“ I was reading about your new organization and have a musical project which might be of interest to you. Give me a call if you would like to discuss.”

“Hi! My name is Jan. Will you be listing job offerings sometime?”

We even had a group of men all dressed in black meet with us about the possibilities of joining forces. All in black.

By Sunday night (the eve of Disney's announcement) we had nearly 3000 hits on our site and between 200 and 300 emails. I tried for the first few days to answer all of them but it quickly became impossible.

On Thursday we were slashdotted (that is this article was posted on Slashdot.org). By the end of the day our sever crashed with over 40, 000 hits on the site.

And the roller coaster had reached the top of the first hill.



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