About the film
The film uses interviews from Disney animation personnel including lead animator Andreas Deja, animator/director Barry Cook, and longtime ink-and-paint artist Carmen Sanderson, among others. Most of these interviews were done following the layoff of most of Disney's traditional animation artists in March 2002. The Disney corporate executives had decided to produce only computer-animated films following the underperformance of traditionally animated films such as The Emperor's New Groove and Atlantis: The Lost Empire in the face of the successful output of Pixar Animation Studios.
Dream On Silly Dreamer focuses on the effects of both the Disney studio's successes and failures on the Feature Animation employees, particularly their feelings on the competition from former Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg's establishment of an animation unit at DreamWorks Pictures and their feelings on the layoffs. The film uses animated bookends and interstituals, done in a format reminiscent of Disney's Winnie the Pooh short films, of a young "dreamer" who achieves his dream to be a Disney animator with the unexpected real-life results.
Release and reception
Produced and released independently by Lund and West's WestLund Productions, Dream On, Silly Dreamer debuted at the Animex International Festival of Animation in the United Kingdom in January 2005, and played at other film festivals throughout the year. WestLund released the film on DVD the following year, along with extended versions of several of the film's scenes and footage of its premieres at several film festivals. A review by Steve Daily of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a B+ grade, likening it to "a real-life version of The Office.
The film was produced and released in the midst of a public corporate battle between The Walt Disney Company's CEO Michael Eisner and Roy E. Disney, formerly a Disney board member and the chairman of Feature Animation. Roy Disney, who was calling for Eisner's resignation in the face of a number of issues with his management, including laying off the traditional animation unit, praised Dream on Silly Dreamer, saying in a statement that "I have to say how very human a face it puts on an institutional tragedy."
Following Eisner's resignation in 2005, Roy E. Disney returned to the Disney board, and the studio reinstated a traditional feature animation unit following the merger of Walt Disney Animation Studios with Pixar Animation Studios.
- Waking Sleeping Beauty, a 2010 documentary by Disney producer Don Hahn and former executive Peter Schneider on the history of Disney animation between 1980 and 1994.
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