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Toon Tuesday: Klay Hall tinkers with Tinker Bell

Toon Tuesday: Klay Hall tinkers with Tinker Bell

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This wasn’t what Klay Hall signed on for when he initially signed up with DisneyToon Studios.

By that I mean: This CalArts graduate is probably best known for directing smart-ass animated sitcoms like “The Simpsons” and “King of the Hill.” In fact, it was Hall’s work on DreamWorks Animation’s “Father of the Pride” that initially put him on Mickey’s radar. That made Klay seem like the very best possible candidate to direct DisneyToon’s next home premiere, “Chicken Little 2: The Ugly Duckling Story.”

But then The Walt Disney Company acquired Pixar Animation Studios. And with John Lasseter and Ed Catmull now calling the shots, DisneyToon Studios suddenly got out of the unnecessary sequel business. Which is how Hall found himself knee-deep in the Disney Fairies franchise.

Disney's Tinker bell and the Lost Treasure
Copyright 2009 Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. All Rights Reserved

Now you’d think that a sitcom smart-ass would have some trouble transitioning to this sort of directorial assignment. But as it turns out, Klay was a huge fan of classic Disney animation. So much so that – while he was attending CalArts – Hall actually befriended and/or corresponded with three of The Nine Old Men: Marc Davis, Ward Kimball and Milt Kahl.

So to now be asked to be part of the team that would be charged with turning Davis’ 2D pixie into a 3D Disney Fairy … Well, that was obviously a pretty daunting task. But it was also one that Klay was willing – even eager – to tackle.

“You have to understand that Tinker Bell – almost as much as Mickey – is the character that people most closely associate with The Walt Disney Company,” Hall explained in a March 2009 interview with JHM (Klay and “Lost Treasure” producer Sean Lurie were in Orlando at that time, helping to open the then-brand-new Pixie Hollow exhibit at Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival). “She flew over the Castle at the start of the old Disney television show. And she still flies over the Castle during the fireworks shows at all the Parks. So this was a character that we just had to get right.”

Walt Disney Studios Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure
Copyright 2009 Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. All Rights Reserved

John Lasseter particularly insisted on Klay and his “Lost Treasure” team get all of the details right in regards to Tinker Bell. At one point he even suggesting that Hall consult Marc Davis’ old model sheets for this character so that they’d then get the shape of this Pixie’s eyes just right.

“John’s been very hands-on when it comes to the ‘Disney Fairies’ films,” Klay continued. “He’s always pushing us to make sure that Tink’s character is genuine. That there’s always some connective tissue between these new movies and Disney’s original ‘Peter Pan’ film.”

Toward that end … Hall was happy that – in “Lost Treasure” – he got to make Tinker Bell a lot more like the version of this sprite that Marc Davis originally drew. Which means that this pixie has a temper.

Walt Disney Studios Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure
Copyright 2009 Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. All Rights Reserved

“Because last year’s ‘Tinker Bell ’ was more of an origins story, we didn’t get to explore Tink’s personality. We had to introduce the world of Pixie Hollow and all of the other Disney Fairies. So there just wasn’t enough time,” Klay said. “But with ‘Lost Treasure,’ now that the world’s been established, we now get to play around a bit with these characters. Show people what Tink is really capable of.”

Which – in this case – means losing her temper. Which results in the rare moonstone scepter accidently getting destroyed. Which then puts all of Pixie Hollow in peril.

In order to set things right, Tinker Bell must journey across the sea north of Neverland. Where she encounters trolls, explores a long-marooned pirate ship as well as discovering what a treasure a true friend can be.

Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure
Copyright 2009 Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. All Rights Reserved

If “Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure” sounds like it’s more an adventure than the previous Disney Fairies film … Well, there’s a reason for that. Hall (who’s the father of two sons, Luke & Jack) deliberately set out to make “Lost Treasure” the sort of film that would also appeal to boys.

“Tink’s always been something of a tomboy,” Klay concluded. “By sending her off on this quest, we’re hoping to broaden the appeal of ‘Lost Treasure.’ Have the whole family be entertained by this new Disney Fairies film.”

So – yeah – on paper, Hall may appear to be far outside of his sitcom comfort zone. But given that – in a 2002 interview with Animation Magazine – Klay said that the cartoon character that he’d most like to be is “ … Peter Pan, the guy who never grew up … “ I’d say that Hall will be perfectly happy spending the next few years in Neverland, guiding the next three Disney Fairies films (including the recently announced 5th installment in this series, “Tinker Bell and The Race through the Seasons.” Which will be released in the Fall of 2012) through the production process.

Disney's Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure
Copyright 2009 Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. All Rights Reserved

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Special thanks to Angela Ragno for providing some of the info featured into today's article

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  • Somehow I don't think Mr. Hall is quite serious in making Tink more like the original from Peter pan. In the book "Storytelling in Animation", Donald Crafton writes an analysis of "Peter Pan" and quotes critics who point out that Tinkerbell represents the "bathing beauty" version of the adult woman that Wendy is in the arc of transitioning to over the story. Tink is jealous, vain and tempermental. Not just "quick tempered". He also pointed out that in the original play, Tink is nothing more than a spot of light and that giving her an adult "hot babe" look is an injection of sex into the film which one critic called vulgar.  

    I haven't seen the new Tink movie, but the first one is aimed squarely at tween girls, and subsequently avoided the original Tink characteristics rather obviously. I expect the second would follow the same path.

    I congratulate Mr. Hall for attempting to make the movie appeal to boys more, because they've been somewhat neglected in the contemporary, non Pixar, Disney productions.  

  • Rufus3698 --

    The Tinker Bell that Klay Hall was trying to replicate here wasn't the character as she was seen in the original J.M. Barrie book or play. But -- rather -- Tink as Marc Davis drew her for Disney's 1953 animated version of "Peter Pan."

    If that particular story point didn't come across clearly in today's JHM article, my apologies.

    j

  • I've seen the film...it's terrific! The story moves along at a fast pace and the animation rivals anything put up on the big screen, outside of the big four, (Disney/Pixar, Dreamworks, Sony and Fox). From what I've seen of the third Tink installment, the work just gets better and better. Can't wait for them to announce their new DTS franchise. JL's involvement is ALL OVER these films!

  • Look, I glad that they're making the tinker bell movies, but I really think that they should make Chicken Little 2.

  • Here are three reasons why I think they should make Chicken Little 2: one, I love the movie Chicken Little, two, I was looking forward to what will happen next especially with Chicken Little and Abby, and three, I think it is not good for them to just cancell something they started working on.  Oh, and one more thing, of they do make Chicken little 2, they should stick to the plot they came up with already.

  • Does anyone agree with me? Anyone, someone.

  • Just to be honest, I think there's nothing wrong with some of the sequels they cancelled. do you agree?

  • Another thing, if they do deside to make Chicken Little 2, I think they should bring back some of the actors from the first movie. ( like Zach Braff as Chicken Little, Joan Cusack as Abby Mallard, and Steve Zahn as Runt of the Litter) and maybe a disney star ( like selena gomez, demi lovato, or bridgit mendler)

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