I’ve been carrying this sentiment for years, but this only just occurred to me tonight while watching The Little Mermaid extras. All four of these guys (counterclockwise) - Ron Clements, John Musker, Howard Ashman, and Alan Menken - were plucked from a different “experience” background, then set loose on a project with a whole new title and job responsibilities they weren’t immediately prepared for upon walking in the front door.
Then you’ve got Chris Sanders. My word, he can do everything it seems. Howard Ashman was described as a guy who could never “just do (the role he was assigned)” and this guy strikes me as that sort. We so far have not one, but TWO instant classics out of this man’s direction alongside co-conspirator Dean DeBlois. He also voiced Little Brother (Mulan) and Belt (The Croods) in addition to Stitch in ALL of his incarnations - the movies, the TV series, and Kingdom Hearts. He could be our generation’s Frank Welker.
They all obviously had some talent that you couldn’t measure by their resumes when they got that “big break.” Why is this such an “old fashioned” notion now? I watched a documentary once about someone who wanted to break into the music business - he was able to walk into a radio station, ask for a job, and they CREATED a position for him, to organize their records and other recordings. Again - why is this such an old-fashioned notion when it created such amazing innovations and companies?
Notes for Little Mermaid: Of any of them, Howard Ashman was the closest in terms of experience, but it was still a very different medium AND he was allowed to expand his creative role mid-project, so I think the sentiment remains.
I also say they “drove” the project because they absolutely didn’t do it by themselves, but they were the ones that ultimately shaped the movie’s direction, mood, and style into what it became.
Also: “Another” illustrator refers to the first being Ron Clements, who wrote the original treatment which caught enough attention to merit full production.