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Today I have the pleasure of interviewing someone I’ve wanted to talk to for a long time, and hopefully this is just the first of many conversations.
Don Hahn is best known for having produced the classic Beauty and the Beast, the first animated film nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. He also produced a few other little movies you may have heard of, like The Lion King, and The Emperor’s New Groove. He’s rather less well known as an (uncredited) animation assistant on Pete’s Dragon, Disney’s big release of the 1977 holiday season, and as an assistant director on 1981’s The Fox and the Hound, both of which are profoundly loved in my house.
Don is the author of a number of books, including Before Ever After, Animation Magic, The Alchemy of Animation, and Brain Storm: Unleashing Your Creative Self. His most recent book is Yesterday’s Tomorrow: Disney’s Magical Mid-Century, a valentine to an era of optimism, relaxed lifestyle, and innovative design; a large-format, general audience book, illustrated with rarely seen art and photography of the mid-20th century reflecting the unique style that Walt Disney and his artists contributed to the era.
In this episode, Don talks about…
- How he got started working for Disney and what he did a first
- How his musical background helped him in his role as a director
- What it was like seeing his work on the big screen for the first time
- The first time he remembers thinking, “I’m doing something really special here”
- What his new book, Yesterday’s Tomorrow, is about
- Why the mid-century approach and outlook spread so widely and was so broadly embraced
- What the most fascinating things were he discovered while writing the book
- Whether he has any plans to revisit any of the topics in this book in some form at another time
- The documentary he’s working on about playwright and renowned lyricist Howard Ashman
- His advice to you for following your dream—spoiler alert: it involves horses … kind of
- Shameless Plug Time!
I want to hear from you, so please email me, leave a comment below, or call the Listener Feedback line at (734) 23-STORY.
If you call in, don’t worry about having to sound perfect. If you ask me to, I’ll edit out any mistakes so you sound as good as you possibly can. You’re even welcome to start your entire story over again and I’ll use the “take” you want! If you want to submit a story anonymously, for whatever reason you may have, email it to me and tell you me you wanted it shared that way. I’ll read it on the podcast, but keep your name private.
Thanks for listening!
Music and voiceovers provided by Rick Moyer.
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