Disney EchoEar Mouseter
Joined: Aug. 2005
||Posted: June 04, 2006, 5:51 pm
What a great night! He said so many great things, and I could have sat there and listened forever! I hope I remember all he said!
By the way, if I get some fact wrong, please be understanding and let me know. We discussed so much, I might have misheard or misunderstood.
He went to school for engineering and trained to be a draftsman. This was the time before Disney was on TV every week, but of course Walt was still interviewed and he was always struck by how well Walt represented himself and the company. Even in that more "limited" exposure, he told his family after seeing some interview, Someday, I want to work for that man.
The funny thing is how he actually did end up working for Disney.
Some of these things you may already know, but I'm putting them down in case you (like me) don't.
During WWII, the UK was angry over America not jumping into the war when Hitler attacked them and other places in Europe. They seized funds belonging to American corporations. And then when America was involved, it took quite a long time for these assets to be freed up due to the scope of the way. That included Disney. A great deal of funds was frozen in the UK, money that Walt and Roy needed. That's when they started doing (amidst other things) films like Treasure Island, Rob Roy etc. but for a reason I didn't know. Roy Disney had met this man who owned a Christian film making co. This man contacted Roy and suggested Disney making films from books (like Treasure Island) and sending them out to schools. It was a source they hadn't tapped like that, plus going into 16mm instead of Cinescope.
The former Imagineer I spoke with last night had gotten a job out of school for this Christian film co, organizing distribution of the films. He ended up meeting the young man who was handling the Disney film end out of the same warehouse, and they became friends.
That man was Dick Cook, now Chairman of Disney Films!
So Mr. Anderson ended up coming into Disney through a side door, so to speak: through learning 16mm films and working with Dick Cook. With the Disneyland ever expanding, within his 4th week of being at Disney, they saw his draftsman experience and moved him to the project.
This was when Imagineering didn't exist. They were part of WED Enterprises. They (all the engineers who were the only part of the project at this point) were put into a warehouse that was a couple blocks from the backlot of the Studios.
Walt was in a bit "of trouble" with Roy. When 20K leagues came along, Walt wanted to go 3 million on the movie instead of the 2 million, he convinced Roy it was necessary to build their own tank for the squid scene. Only 2 such tanks existed and they were being used. Roy approved it, but Walt went even more overbudget on the film. Roy told him that his brother could no longer afford 20K AND "that carnival you want to build".
So Walt went behind his brother's back, betting that he could make Roy see how good Disneyland could be if it was drafted down. (And of course, 20K Leagues made more than its budget back.) He rented that warehouse and picked his team. Instead of the studio environment they were used to, Walt had a vision of an environment necessary to build something like a theme park. He wanted to take a movie, which is height and width, and give it depth. People would walk into the movie by walking into the places in Disneyland. So he created the ideas of a large space with wheeled tables for sketches and more importantly, the models that could be moved, walked through like people would eventually do etc. It's the working atmosphere you see in the Disneyland 10th anniversary show.
But 6 weeks into it, it wasn't working. The men were frustrated doing something they had no experience with. They were packed together in a warehouse and getting on each other's nerves. Walt heard the frustrations pouring out of there and showed up in the middle of the work day. He had them all gather around and told this story.
(The Imagineer who told me this got it from one of the 9 old men. He said 2 of the others tell a similar story but some changes. Like Walt Disney himself, they were storytellers and details got changed for a better story. however, this seemed to be the the underlying truth in all of them:)
In his hometown, a 10 year old boy wanted more than anything to join the circus. He vowed the next time a circus came to town, he'd was leaving with it. 2 years later, one came to town and he was at the manager's trailer as soon as the steps were down. The manager said he couldn't take a 12 year old boy w/o his parents permission. But the boy had thought of that and gotten his mother to write a letter, giving permission. Only a few jobs were available at the circus, most of them the boy couldn't do like handle the wild animals. The manager said he had an opening for a trombone player and the boy excitedly said that he'd take that job.
The next day was the parade for the town, truly announcing the circus was open. The manager stood at the other end of Main St. to watch his people. From around the corner, amidst the other music, came the flat and off tune notes from a trombone. The boy marched down Main St., beaming and proud, and HORRIBLE! The manager yelled at him later, "Why didn't you tell me you couldn't play the trombone?" The boy replied, "I didn't know I couldn't play trombone. I never tried it before so I couldn't know. Just because I didn't never tried something doesn't mean I can't do it."
Walt Disney started walking amongst his initial team to build Disneyland, and he started flicking the end of his tie. For the first time they noticed: it had trombones on it. When he was done, he told them, "Just because you've never built a theme park doesn't mean you can't do it." Already charged to give Walt his theme park after his talk, he smiled at them and told them that he was going on national TV the next week and announced what a great job they were already doing.
Mr. Anderson told me that he always kept that quote in his head through his life: just because I've never done something, doesn't mean I can't. Instead of staying in retirement, he teaches film classes now and is a consultant for set designs in theater etc. On the first day of every class, he tells them that circus story.