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BROTHER BEAR

About The Production
"Brother Bear” is a project that Disney's Florida Animation Studio likes to refer to as "home grown.” The idea for this film was developed there and was to become the first project to go from conception to completion almost entirely through that facility.

Disney's Feature Animation team first began exploring a film about bears nearly a decade ago around the time that "The Lion King” was still in production. Early versions of the feature had a very dramatic storyline with elements of Shakespeare's "King Lear.” Under the working title of "Bears,” the project was revisited and actively developed by veteran animator Aaron Blaise and Chuck Williams in his role as development executive for the Florida Studio. Blaise began working on the project in 1997, and was soon joined by co-director Bob Walker.

Williams recalls, "It's basically an original story. Aaron and I started from scratch by reading a lot of Native American myths and transformation stories. We discovered that practically every culture around the world had some kind of story about people transforming into animals. Many of them were about boys changing into bears as a coming of age ritual. Some of the stories even had humans pretending to be bears for a period of time and then they'd come out and be considered men of the tribe. Our original idea was a father-son story about a rebellious son who was changed into a bear and had to make amends with his father in order to change back.”

Blaise adds, "The transformation myths were designed to teach life lessons and that's why they were passed down all these years by different cultures. They're structured in ways that are unlike Western storytelling, with the idea that you could go from one culture to another, meaning one animal world to the human world. They felt that the animals were just people in different clothing. We thought it was a cool idea that you could cross over from one culture to another.”

Screenwriter Tab Murphy ("Tarzan,” "The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” "Atlantis: The Lost Empire”) came on board to write an early draft of the script. Lorne Cameron & David Hoselton, and Steve Bencich & Ron J. Friedman added further to the story structure and dialogue through their subsequent screenplays. In Florida, Steve Anderson served as story supervisor and worked closely with the producer, directors and a team of story artists to storyboard the film.

For the animation team at Disney's Florida Studio, "Brother Bear” presented a wide range of new challenges and rewards. Having previously created the features "Mulan” and "Lilo & Stitch,” this latest project gave them their first real chance to animate a cast made up primarily of animals. With colorful characters ranging from big horn rams and chipmunks to bears, moose and mammoths, the animators had fun boning up on unusual anatomy and locomotion. An assortment of experts and guest lecturers visited the Studio to assist the team in their task, while bear cubs and other animals also dropped by. Bear researcher/preservationist/author Timothy Treadwell (Among Grizzlies: Living with Wild Bears in Alaska) also came to the Studio to offer his firsthand accounts and insights about these magnificent animals.

Supervising the animation for Kenai as a bear was Byron Howard, a ten-year veteran of Florida's animation team whose most recent assignment was the character of Nani and Cobra Bubbles in "Lilo & Stitch.”

"I've never animated an animal before,” confesses Howard. "And even though bears can have a remarkably human-like figure when they stand up on their hind legs, they have a very different build from humans. When Kenai is first transformed into a bear he tries to maintain a two-legged posture, but he just can't pull it off. He's too awkward; his body has changed too much. Eventually he figures that four-legged locomotion is the easier way. Bears are actually easier to animate than most quadrupeds becaus

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