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‘Floyd Norman: An Animated Life’ Opens in Theaters This Weekend!

Feature documentary by Michael Fiore and Erik Sharkey following the life and career of legendary animator and story artist Floyd Norman makes its theatrical debut.

Floyd Norman: An Animated Life, the feature-length documentary following the life and career of legendary animator and story artist Floyd Norman by Michael Fiore and Erik Sharkey, makes its theatrical debut with a limited engagement in select cities and day-and-date VOD and digital release on Friday, August 26.

Floyd Norman: An Animated Life is a feature-length look the prolific animator and story artist’s life from growing up in Santa Barbara, CA to his years working as an animator at Disney, Hanna-Barbera, Pixar and more. The undisputed “Forrest Gump” of the animation world, Norman was hired as the first African-American at Disney in 1956. He would later be hand-picked by Walt Disney himself to join the story team on the Jungle Book. After Disney’s death, Norman left the studio to start his own company to produce black history films for high schools. He and his partners would later work with Hanna-Barbera, and animate the original Fat Albert Special, as well as the titles to TV mainstay Soul Train.

Floyd Norman at Disney Animation Studios in 1956.

Norman returned to Disney in the 1980s to work in their Publishing department. And in 1998, he returned to Disney Animation to work in the story department on Mulan. But an invite to the Bay area in the late 90s became a career highlight. Norman was now working with another emerging great: Pixar and Steve Jobs, on Toy Story 2 and Monsters Inc.

Life as an animator is a nomadic one, but Norman spent the majority of his career at Disney, and views it as his “home.” Retired by Disney at age 65 in 2000, the documentary focuses on Norman’s difficulty with a retirement he was not ready for. Not one to quit, Norman chose to occupy an empty cubicle at Disney Publishing for the last 15 years. As he puts it, “[He] just won’t leave.” A term has been coined by Disney employees -- “Floydering.” While not on staff, his proximity to other Disney personnel has led him to pick up freelance work. He continues to have an impact on animation as both an artist and mentor. As Norman says in the film, he plans “to die at the drawing board.”

Floyd Norman: An Animated Life had its world premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in February and won the audience award at the Bentonville Film Festival, and also screened earlier in July at the San Diego Comic-Con Film Festival, where it received the award for best documentary.

The film features interviews with actress Whoopi Goldberg, cartoonist Sergio Aragones, Disney music composer Richard Sherman, Maleficent producer Don Hahn, former Pixar VP of animation Ralph Guggenheim, film critic and historian Leonard Maltin, Batman: The Animated Series writer/producer Paul Dini, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast co-director Gary Trousdale, cartoonist, humorist and historian Scott Shaw, animator and producer Leo Sullivan, writer/director and Pixar story artist Ken Mitchroney, and animator and historian Tom Sito, among others.

Learn more about the film, and where to see it, at

Source: Michael Fiore Films

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.