Author: Mario Furmanczyk, animator at Walt Disney Animation Studios
Feature Film Credits: Zootopia, Frozen, Wreck it Ralph, Winnie the Pooh, and The Princess and the Frog
So this is my contribution to your letters project. I’m trying hard to make my handwriting as legible as possible. Ironic considering I draw for a living!!
I’ve wanted to be a hand-drawn animator for Disney since about the 2nd grade. I remember the moment I realized it as if it were yesterday. I was watching “The Jungle Book”. During Baloo’s “Bear Necessities”, I looked over at my mom, wandering how they created such an amazing, alive character like Baloo. I told her at that moment that I wanted to be a “cartoonist”!! I eventually realized that the job title was “animator”.
I read up on everything I could about animation including “The Illusion of Life” by Frank & Ollie. So I grew up with a great appreciation for the “Nine Old Men”, which made it all the more remarkable when I was blessed with working alongside the direct descendants of the “Nine Old Men” once I finished at CALARTS in 2007.
Dale Baer was my mentor at Disney during my apprenticeship for 2D animation! Dale worked with the “9 Old Men” back on “Robin Hood” so I made sure to bug him often about his experiences working in that era. He was always willing to share awesome stories which made the challenge of showing him my animation something to look forward to!
After my Disney apprenticeship, I was brought onto “Princess and the Frog” as an Apprentice Animator. Finally, my dream was realized!! On top of it all, I had the great fortune of having Mark Henn as my supervising animator/ Mentor. I’ll never forget those long days, drawing non-stop, living the dream, and learning from artists that I looked up to the most!! I continued to work with Mark through the production of “Winnie-the-Pooh”, which was another dream job for me. When I sit back and reflect on my experiences so far, I’m sure glad I didn’t let anything stop me from pursuing my dream. The best advice I can give anyone is to follow what’s true to you, that truth will guide you through the most amazing life journey.