A couple of months ago I attended a lecture at the downtown (main) Orlando Library. Both the topic and the speaker were of interest
. The Topic was THE VAULT OF WALT - a new book that related untold stories about Walt Disney. The books gives insights into the man and the relationships in his life - as well as the projects he endeavored. The speaker was author, Jim Korkis, an old friend and colleague from the Disney Institute. I had not seen Jim since I relocated to the Orlando area. That day Jim did not disappoint. He lectured and showed clips to a full house of enthusiastic fans... okay, this being information and stories about Disney - there were some really over enthusiastic attendees. Jim is always amazing as a presenter, not only is he a polished speaker who revels at the prospects of a full audience - but he is genuinely into the Disney films, the theme parks and the artists. As he related to us, he has been doing this since junior high. While folks would go to watch the films, Jim would take along a pencil and paper along and write down the names of the artists listed in the credits. Keep mind this is decades before the internet - so he couldn't just Google them. He would scour phonebooks and whatever in an attempt to contact them. Once he talked to someone - they would direct him to another person, then another and so on. Pretty soon, he had established a generous list of contacts. To hear him speak of his process was amazing.
The post -lecture crush for Jim's autograph was endearing. Fans lined up to have him sign his book. A friend of mine Vinny Potuto (who has worked with me on my last two films) sent me his book to have it signed.
Alas, I found out the Library had not ordered enough books to meet the demand - so I had to fore go the notion that Jim would sign my book - since there was none. Jim did dedicate Vinny's book - mission accomplished. I would have to wait and order my copy FROM THE VAULT OF WALT from amazon.com.
It would give me the excuse to have lunch with Jim and talk more about the book.
It took 2 couple of months for me to order THE VAULT OF WALT, but I finally did and arranged a time and place to meet Jim Korkis for lunch.
Jim suggested an Italian restaurant and we did meet for lunch.
It was wonderful to chat with Jim. He is even more charming and engaging in person. He is such a treasure trove of knowledge and does not mind sharing his information.
We reminisced for hours about the Disney Institute and the opening animation team. Jim loves to bring up the story of how he was hired as a "second round draft choice".
As the story goes, when I join the Institute as Program Manager I was offered by HR a stack of first tier talent to choose from for animation/ instructor staff. Jim was not in that pile. Another stack of resumes yielded other less possible candidates. Jim was in that pile! His resume featured the same picture he used in an animation publication- so I recognized him immediately. I always looked for the Jim Korkis article which was informative and entertaining.
Jim was integral to our animation/instructor team. He wrote several of the programs and was the maven for Animated Beginnings – our intro class that highlighted our four animation studios and covered everything from storyboarding and animation for the 2D, CG and stop motion animation processes. Finally the guests would paint a cel, the old way with brush and paints and have a great take-home souvenir.
I could listen to Jim all day! His knowledge of all things Disney is unparalleled – he is a fount of information.
After a while it was time to go – but I know we will get together again soon. And yes, he did signed my copy of THE VAULT OF WALT.