Chances are if you saw an animated film in the last 30 years, Aaron Blaise has had something to do with it.
Blaise, a 1989 graduate of Ringling College of Art and Design, worked on the Lion King, Mulan, Beauty and the Beast, and co-directed the 2003 hit Brother Bear.
Blaise and longtime collaborator Chuck Williams launched a campaign on Amazon’s Kickstarter July 7, to raise $350,000 to start production of “Art Story,” a tale exploring a boy’s relationship with his grandfather, as the two become “stuck” within famous works of art. Some of the inspiration for the film comes from the countless hours Blaise spent at Ringling Museum of Art.
After leaving Disney to join Digital Domain and produce original content, Blaise and Williams came up with four feature film pitches of their own.
"Our favorite stage in the film process is coming up with ideas — and getting them off the ground," Blaise said.
But, leaving the safety of Disney was a gamble because the big production companies usually grow their creative teams from within. And after Digital Domain went bankrupt, the "Legend of Tembo," the pair's film project, was scrapped.
"So that all fell apart and we had these three other projects that were still hanging around," Blaise said.
"Art Story" is one of those ideas.
Blaise’s advice for new Ringling graduates is just to keep animating — sticking with your art will lead to experiences similar to what Blaise has gone through.