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INTERVIEW: Producer Dorothy McKim on the “Disney Animation Studios Shorts Collection” and her film “Get A Horse!”

INTERVIEW: Producer Dorothy McKim on the "Disney Animation Studios Shorts Collection" and her film "Get A Horse!"

Now that the Disney Animation Studios Shorts Collection is available on Blu-ray
and DVD, it’s possible to own the superb little gems that preceded Disney’s recent smash features – including a precious few that had a more limited release. Since one of the jewels in this crown is Get a Horse!, we asked its Producer Dorothy
McKim for some behind-the-scenes reflections.

GREG EHRBAR:     I noticed while watching both
the credits and the intros that you were involved with quite a few of the short
films in this collection. It’s a regular Dorothy-tacular!

DOROTHY McKIM:    (Laughs)
Well, my involvement with the shorts came about after I had produced Meet the Robinsons, then after that, I
was running development. Since the shorts program goes through development, it
was easier for me to go ahead and produce and develop them at the same time.

GREG:  Your last name has a
legendary connection with Disney history.

DOROTHY: Yes, Sam McKim was my
father-in-law. He was a great guy. We all miss him. I come from a largely non-creative
family. But the McKim side of the family is very creative. As for myself, I went
to business school. I started at Disney 35 years ago, trying to work my way
into animation. It was 1984 when I got a position in animation and live-action
editing, and I’ve been in animation ever since.

GREG:   And clearly Get a Horse! is a special career highlight. I recall
that you screened the film at a festival and at a D23 event, and presented it
as a “lost” film and the audiences were flabbergasted when the cel animation
became CG.

was great. We started out telling everyone that we “found the film in the

GREG:   I was extremely
impressed with the soundtrack. The score matched the Stalling sound
astonishingly well, and I know how difficult that can be given today’s advanced
sound technology, which is “too perfect”, so to speak, to be convincing.

DOROTHY:  Absolutely.
We brought in musicians specifically for the unique kind of sounds we needed–even
down to the ocarina. We found an ocarina player, who brought three ocarinas
with them, so we could choose the most authentic one. We still have the sound
effects library that Jimmy Macdonald built, too. That is now with Walt Disney
Imagineering, who helped us find the exact same effects that Walt used, along
with some new effects we recorded live.

GREG:   The voice work in Get a Horse! is extraordinary, too. You seamlessly
combined Billy Bletcher’s Pete voice tracks with new ones by Will Ryan, and did
the same with Marcellite Garner and Russi Taylor for Minnie. And Walt himself
as Mickey!

DOROTHY:    Here’s
a little story about that. We wanted to use Walt for 100% of the soundtrack, so
for about six months, we went through through the voice library to pick out words
like “Hot dog!” and so forth. We even changed some of the story a bit to
accommodate the Walt dialogue we could find. Then at the screening for John
Lasseter, we said we had used Walt for the entire film. John said it was
fantastic, but that there was one word in there that was not Walt! So he caught
our one word: “red”. We could not find Walt as Mickey saying “red” in the
library. So our sound designer was able to find three syllables from three
different words and put them together to create the word “red”. It took months
and a great deal of patience to get it all just right.

GREG:  And that makes this the first time
Walt Disney gets a screen credit for performing Mickey Mouse’s voice.

DOROTHY:  You’re 100% right. He never gave himself credit, so that was his first.

GREG: The Rescuers is considered a landmark animated feature because the Nine Old Men joined
forces with the young up-and-coming artists. Along the same lines,
Get a
Horse! symbolizes classic Disney
animation artistry meeting CG, both at their highest level. One of the unique
aspects of Disney is the dynamic between the traditional and the visionary.

DOROTHY:  I’m so glad everybody liked it so much. It was a
lot fun to work on, as well as a challenge. We worked very hard to make
everything authentic to what Walt and his artists did in the animated shorts
back in the day. We wanted to keep that integrity.

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