Get A Horse - A New Mickey Mouse Short 85 Years in the Making
As MacMullan explained to the audience, the short came about after prompting from Wreck-It Ralph director Rich Moore, who told her Disney was looking for some new Mickey Mouse ideas for TV. This seemingly easy development task was made more difficult by the reality that Mickey boasts a huge history over the last 8 decades, handling countless high-profile entertainment duties, produced in a number of styles, leaving little viable uncharted territory that would meet studio approval or more importantly, be any good. A truly daunting task.
For MacMullan, the earliest Mickey was always the most appealing, when he was fresh, rascally and funny. As she shared with AWN later that evening, “I like 1928. I like the very early style of animation. It's what got me into animation. Because it was easy to draw. You could draw it fast. It was all circles and tubes. There was a “take no prisoners” approach to comedy, like Ub Iwerks was making all sorts of things up as he went along. Mickey was this little underdog. He didn't have a mortgage. He didn't have a dog that he had to wash in a bathtub. They [the original Disney shorts] were depression-era comedies. Everything was just starting. It was very fresh and lively. So I was thinking, ‘How can we get back there?’” A throwback 1928 styled short was pitched, John Lasseter approved and 18 months later, the world has Get A Horse. Finished just the previous Thursday.
MacMullan, along with the film’s producer McKim, lead 2D animation supervisor Goldberg and CG animation supervisor Adam Green, spent the rest of the program breaking down the production, sharing details on both the 2D and CG animation process. Yet another treat was watching Eric draw today’s Mickey Mouse on the overhead projector, then on a superimposed sheet of paper, draw the Mickey Mouse of 1928. It’s hard to describe the joy of watching Eric draw. Obviously, there are many talented artists and animators. But somehow watching him draw Mickey Mouse so matter-of-factly, so effortlessly, so officially, to the delight of the crowd, it felt like you were watching the original, like everyone else was a mere poser, an imposter. We often bemoan that fact that as far as the public is concerned, animation has no “stars” besides the characters themselves. Well, based on the Annecy audience’s reception and the tremendous industry-wide respect he continues to garner, Eric Goldberg is as close to a “rock star” as our industry gets.
A screening of the short a second time and the presentation was complete. As the four stood for a final ovation, it was clear we’d all witnessed something quite special and quite sincere. Something very cool indeed.
Dan Sarto is editor-in-chief and publisher of Animation World Network.