Yesterday was an exciting day. The short animated film Dear Basketball won an Oscar. That means the short’s two creators got to go home with the very limited edition gold statue that the Motion Picture Academy bestows upon those deemed the best in their category. That means Kobe Bryant and Glen Keane have something new and shiny.
This was very exciting because animators don’t often get this kind of an achievement. Animation directors get them, and while Glen directed this film, he also animated it. Those are his hand-drawn pencil drawings on the screen. They weren’t animated in the computer. Pencil. Paper. That means all those camera moves whirling around a set had to be figured out with a pencil. There were no models with a computer camera spinning around. There weren’t computer models making sure the renderings of Kobe Bryant were “on model”. A man with a pencil was doing that, and filling every frame with powerful emotion through moving illustrations.
Kobe’s poem, so eloquently narrated by the author himself, was also part of that powerful emotion. It is one man’s feelings being expressed about a lifelong pursuit – a real passion. Rounding out the power was the music by none other than the great John Williams, who himself was at the ceremony last night with his 51st Oscar nomination for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Maestro Williams’ poignant music was the cherry on the top of what was a beautiful five minute experience for the audience.
Grateful to have worked with Glen in the past during my days at Disney, I’m particularly pleased to see him receive this. Hopefully you are, too. This man was behind characters you love such as Ariel in The Little Mermaid, Beast in Beauty & the Beast, Aladdin in Aladdin, Tarzan in Tarzan, Pocahontas in Pocahontas, John Silver in Treasure Planet, and he conceived, developed, and produced Tangled. Now he has made a film through his own studio, and was rewarded in this way for his efforts. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.