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A-LISTS dvd by bill biss


Waking Sleeping Beauty Patrick Pacheco


AN INTERVIEW WITH WRITER, Exploring the creative synergy, talent and business savvy of Walt Disney


Studios, the documentary; aptly titled Waking Sleeping Beauty takes an in-depth look at the years between 1980 and 1994. Patrick Pacheco who wrote the overseeing commentary spoke with The Rage Monthly about this fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the workings of a major animation studio. An interesting aspect of Waking Sleeping Beauty is that the majority of the footage used is archival footage from that time period. Disney at that time was a studio rising from the ashes of poor success to create a stunning array of timeless classics such as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and The Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King. Pacheco goes a bit deeper in the documentary’s use of archival footage and says, “All


the footage is archival and some of the sound that goes with that footage is archival, but all the interviews are contemporary. So, when you see those bubbles pop up on the screen, those were all my contemporary interviews.” For the major players at Disney such as Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg to provide new interviews for the docu- mentary is amazing. Pacheco elaborates, “That’s exactly right. Nobody wanted this film made. Jeffrey didn’t want it made. Michael didn’t want it made. Roy [Disney] was always philosophical about it. Yet, Roy was philosophical about everything. He was like ‘Sure. Why not? What the hell.’ But…Dick Cook who was then the chairman of the studio at the time gave the green light finally to Peter [Schneider, the producer of Waking Sleep- ing Beauty]. Peter had been trying to make this film for 10 years. Slowly, Peter and Don [Hahn, co-producer] reeled in their cooperation of the various players. Katzenberg was agreeable but reticent. Michael was the most coy of all.” Throughout the course of this time period, it becomes evident when watching Wak- ing Sleeping Beauty that Jeffrey Katzenberg was not that well-liked by his employees. Katzenberg took over the animation department almost at the beginning of his tenure


at the studio. Pacheco adds, “No. All these people were sharks. You don’t get to their level of where they are in this business without being able to at least swim with sharks. I think Katzenberg was respected because he was down in the trenches with the guys. He’s this workaholic who was toe-to-toe with these guys, so they grew to respect him. As somebody said in the film, ‘you never knew if he was going to hug you or kick you.’” When Patrick Pacheco was given this writing assignment for Waking Sleeping Beauty,


he was told to make the film emotional and dramatic. One striking part of the film is the creative and artistic vision of lyrical composer Howard Ashman. Pacheco explains, “He was a terrific character. Not only because he was so central to the success of the animation department…the reinvention of it because he brought this musical theatre knowledge. But, also because his death is so poignant [Ashman died of AIDS during production of Beauty and The Beast and Aladdin], it always is when an artist never lived to see their vision fulfilled. I knew Howard would be the heart of the documentary.” It would seem overwhelming to some to pack ten year’s of Disney history into an 86-minute documentary. Pacheco shares a bit of his thought process on doing so. “The three-act structure [of Waking Sleeping Beauty] came very early on ie: that the first part would be ‘The Island of Lost Boys,’ it really was about these artists who were on the verge of disappearing. The second part would be ‘The Boy Who Would be Peter Pan’ and that’s Howard Ashman. The third part of the film would be ‘The Men Who Would Be King,’ which are the three executives fighting for the throne for the crown of Walt Disney.”


Just released on DVD, November 30, Waking Sleeping Beauty is a thoroughly


entertaining and well-done documentary. As Patrick Pacheco eloquently states, “From 1984 to 1994, a perfect storm of people and circumstances changed the face of animation forever.”


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RAGE monthly | DECEMBER 2010


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