I had finished my work on One Hundred and One Dalmatians when Disney demoted me and reduced my pay. I was an assistant effects animator with master effects animator, Dan McManus, when I was re- assigned to the character department. I would be working on The Sword and the Stone with Cliff Nordberg, a character animator. Even though I was disappointed by the demotion and cut in pay, Cliff was great to work with and life was still good. One day I received a call from Bob Hyskell. Bob had worked at Disney in effects with me but had quit the studio to work for an industrial film company on Redwood Avenue in Venice, a long drive from my home in Canoga Park. Bob complicated my good life by offering me a job doing technical animation and illustration for a film he was working on for the Navy; he would need me for about three months, with a nice increase in salary from my Disney pay. It would be a great learning experience and fun stuff to work on, illustrations and animation, but it would require some serious thought before making the decision to leave the security of my union job at Disney. And I wasn’t sure three months of work would be worth taking the chance.
The following excerpts from
Flyin’ Chunks and Other Things to Duck
Chapter 5…A short stop at Disney
Wow, but I couldn’t leave the security of Disney for a promise of three months of non-union work. I had a wife, a daughter, a dog, a car and a house, and a lawn. I was now a twenty-seven year old man of responsibility. Several weeks later Bob called and said it looked more like a six-month project. After thinking about it for about two minutes I took the job. Again, resigning from Disney, I went to work for The Lytle Corporation…..
…It turned out that The Lytle Corporation was at one time a huge company doing technical films and manuals for large defense contractors all over the country. But now the company was in its last struggles with corporate death, having suffered what seemed to be a typical natural, corporate evolution of birth, life and death….
…It seems companies become successful because of the inspiration and hard work of a few…..
…To make it easier on people, assistants are hired for the managers, then secretaries for the assistants…..and on and on until the bureaucratic bloat gets in the way of business
…The guys who started it all are fat and want to kick back with a golden parachute and who can blame them. So the corporation sputters without the original inspiration and eventually goes bankrupt.
Not all companies follow this trajectory. The Walt Disney Company has been up and down, but mostly up; the company changes, grows and struggles but never dies, the trend has always been up. But I had left Disney animation for a company whose trend line was definitely going down fast, not smart. I should have learned about trend lines before leaving Disney….
….Eventually we finished the Navy work and the result was we had worked ourselves out of a job. Well, not quite. While we were finishing up our work, a company called EMC Corporation in Minneapolis, Minnesota, took an interest in us as a film unit.