Toon-In Talk Episode 29: Interview with Brenda Chapman

Hello and welcome to twenty-ninth episode of Fanboy Nation’s Toon-In-Talk, your rendezvous for animation interviews.  Concluding Whitney’s longer than expected series the Ladies of Animation is an interview with Academy Award winner director Brenda Chapman.  Brenda is best recognized for her work as the writer and director of Pixar‘s Brave and the director of DreamWorks’s The Prince of Egypt.  She also had an extraordinary career at Disney working on Beauty and the BeastThe Little Mermaid, and The Lion King.  Brenda Chapman has since embarked on an independent creative career with her husband, director Kevin Lima.

Episode 29

  • Brenda Chapman is the director of Brave and Prince of Egypt. She has worked in the animation industry since the early days of the Disney Renaissance and first worked on The Little Mermaid.
  • As many an animator, Brenda grew up watching Looney Toons and through close, personal connections contacted Disney Feature Animation, who sent her a brochure about CalArts.
  • The main influence on Brenda’s work was her mother.
  • Brenda had the privilege to know legendary animator Joe Ranft and he encouraged her to concentrate more on storytelling.
  • Brenda has experience storytelling for the screen and page. The biggest difference for her is that regular prose writing demands more detail that is usually visually communicated.
  • When Brenda was applying for jobs after CalArts, she put together a portfolio consisting of her clean-up work and tossed in a storyboard in the back. Disney loved her storyboard over her clean-up animation.
  • She shared that the only reason why Disney hired her was due to her gender, but once she was in the department Brenda never felt any discrimination.
  • Whitney is curious about the chaotic neutral will o’wisps in Brave and Brenda clears up her confusion.
  • Brenda shares the lowdown on George Lucas’s Strange Magic that delivered an odd story. In short, there wasn’t much of a story to begin with.
  • Brenda shared that getting a greenlight and keeping her job on an animated film are some of the biggest challenges she faced.
  • Brenda is keeping busy with many writing projects and is starting a company with her husband.
  • Brenda’s husband, Kevin Lima, isn’t a stranger to animation. He directed Disney’s Tarzan, Enchanted, and A Goofy Movie.
  • Brenda declares that girls need to get out there and animate.

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