We had the honor of interviewing Disney Director and long time friend Stephen Anderson on his new book, “Disney In-Between: The Lost Years 1966-1986.” Being a fly on the wall when he invited Don Bluth and myself to Disney Animation Studio for a tour while he interviewed Mr. Bluth was definitely a day I will never forget. Please enjoy this interview with this amazing artist and director Stephen Anderson! 

Purchase Here: https://igg.me/at/RmpuRJW-diE/x#/

Why this book?

Stephen: The simple answer is because I wanted to read it. The 70s and early 80s are the Disney of my childhood so I have great love and nostalgia for the films of this era. Finding out about the stories behind them is a challenge though, since so many Disney history books skip over this era in favor of spotlighting more prosperous times, which I totally understand.

So the second reason I wrote this book is that I felt it was important to shed light on an often-ignored time, especially one that has so many relevant themes for today: technological disruption, generational conflict and the fear of change.

What are some stories not in the book but heard?

Stephen: Thankfully, I didn’t have to censor myself since I was writing this independently. I didn’t have to worry about the Disney machine taking issue with an honest account of some really dark times at the studio.

I also wasn’t out to sling mud or make a gossipy kind of book, which I told the folks that interviewed up front. I asked them to be as honest as they felt comfortable being but that if there was something they didn’t want to discuss, it was ok. I did not want to traffic in scandals or slander.

The only specific things that comes to mind in terms of stuff that didn’t make the cut were stories about the amount of drinking and smoking that went on back then. Much of it was not news to me. I’d heard many tales of animators keeping bottles of liquor in their desk drawers and frequently indulging in liquid lunches. But the thing that did shock me was from animation artist Burny Mattinson, who said that back in the 50s when he first started at the studio, the halls had a layer of brown haze hovering at ceiling level due to all of the smoking that went on AND that offices even had spittoons in the doorways. I had never heard those details before.

But I took them out of the manuscript not because the stories were too shocking but because to me, they interrupted the narrative flow and there wasn’t any other place I could move them to that felt organic.

What are some Challenges/late nights/pitfalls you had making this book?

Stephen: It took many years of interviewing for me to finally start seeing a narrative take shape. Because of this, I couldn’t start writing until very late in the process.

I also tried not to make it a trivia book. I do discuss production history and behind-the- scenes stories for some of the key films but I didn’t want to do that with every film. I kept reminding myself that the Disney Studio is the true protagonist of this book, not the individual movies. I needed to keep the studio’s evolution and growth front and center so I chose to use examples of the genesis and development of film ideas, as well as the subsequent release of those films, to tell the story of either creative stagnation or creative progress.

Ultimately, the biggest challenge was finding folks to talk to on the live-action side. Animation was easier for me to access but so many of the key players for the live- action films from the late 60s and 70s are no longer with us and unfortunately, neither are their stories. I was determined to shine a light on them, since they were such prolific masters of their craft. But I’ll keep searching for people who can give their firsthand experiences of working with these directors, cinematographers, special effects artists, etc.

How can someone buy the book?

Stephen: The book is currently available for pre-order from the publisher, Old Mill Press. If you go to their site, theoldmillpress.com, you can pre-order an author signed copy which will be sent to you in August. September will be the official release of the book to the public.


Embark on an enthralling journey with Disney In-Between: The Lost Years 1966—1986 by Stephen Anderson, spanning the transformative era from Walt Disney’s 1966 passing to the studio’s triumphant resurgence in the vibrant mid-80s under the visionary stewardship of Roy E. Disney, Michael Eisner, Frank Wells, and Jeffrey Katzenberg. 500+ pages of first-hand stories from the legendary artists who were there, along with never-before-seen photographs and artwork from their personal collections.

Thank you Stephen for letting me interview you and thank you for such a great book! 



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The Author

Lavalle Lee

Lavalle Lee

Lavalle Lee has been creating animated cartoons online since 1999/2000 for his website flashcartoons.org. Many cartoons on the site have gained viral video status reaching millions of viewers online. In 2009, Lavalle started learning hand drawn animation from Don Bluth in his animation classes, as well as attending his Masterclasses in Arizona. He has also personally studied animation and visual effects from Veteran Disney animators in Orlando, FL.

Lavalle is widely known in the animation industry as the creator of the TraditionalAnimation.com website. After seeing that most animation sites were about all types of animation, not any specific to classical hand drawn animation, Lavalle knew Traditional Animation needed to be represented online. TraditionalAnimation.com has become the leading website and social media account for all things 2D. The website served as inspiration for “The Traditional Animation Show” in which Lavalle was both producer and host.

His partnership with Don Bluth began when he championed the Dragon's Lair Indiegogo campaign as lead project manager, editor, voice actor and in-betweener. The campaign reached $730,000 dollars to produce a 7-minute pitch video. In 2017, Lavalle brought the idea of creating a school to Don Bluth, and Don Bluth University was born. After a decade of learning from Don Bluth and working together on multiple pitches and business ventures, Lavalle accepted the position as Vice President of Don Bluth's new company Don Bluth Studios.

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