Disney Legend Mark Henn explains why he didn't retire.

Recently retired Disney legend Mark Henn appeared on the Bancroft Brothers Animation podcast last week to open up about his decision to leave the only studio he worked for for 43 years.

The 90-minute interview covers a lot of ground, and while Henn answers diplomatically, the chatter has a surprisingly somber tone. Twin brothers Tom and Tony Bancroft worked at Florida Disney Animation Studios in the 90s when Henn was one of the artistic leaders of Florida Disney Animation, and they told Henn how he was treated by the Disney Corporation over the years. forced him to talk about how he had been treated by the Disney Corporation over the years. They also repeatedly return to the topic of how Disney feature films abandoned hand-drawn animation in favor of CG.

Following are five key takeaways from Henn's appearance on the podcast.

About 20 minutes into the podcast, Henn explains that one of the key reasons he decided to put away his pencil was because the studio was asking him to do work he didn't feel was meaningful. Asked if he wanted to stay on until his 45th or even 50th anniversary with the company, Henn replied in the affirmative:

If the work had been more meaningful, I think I would have stayed: ...... It was not what I signed up for. Some interesting things happened. I know the people running the legacy division are doing everything they can to keep 2D alive as long as possible. [Heng says that in the more than 20 years since he directed the animated short "John Henry" in 2000, "I felt like I had a sign on my back that said, 'Don't let this guy direct.'" To make matters worse, according to Henn, two ideas he submitted to the studio were later made by other filmmakers at other Disney-affiliated studios:

I pitched an idea about a true story about a World War II-era carrier pigeon. A few months later, the studio announced that they were going to do "Valiant," and the development manager rushed to my office to try to explain why this was happening. Then, in the early 2000s, I proposed the idea of having an airplane in the film, which they were interested in, but passed on it because it was too close to "Cars." [Valiant" was eventually produced by Vanguard Animation, which had a distribution deal with Disney, and "Planes" was later produced by Disneytoon Studios.

Asked about how Disney had changed during his 40-plus years at Disney, Henn replied without hesitation:

Well, it's a CG world. That changed a few years ago. Home on the Range was supposed to be the last [2D film]. Thankfully, after another change in management, we got to do "The Princess and the Frog" and "Winnie the Pooh."

He went on to explain why 2D animation is no longer favored at the studio and why it is highly unlikely that modern Disney would consider a return to hand-drawn animation:

Since then, the current studio to produce 2D animation It would be too difficult for the studio to justify creating a second studio. Like when they made "The Princess and the Frog" and "Winnie the Pooh". We literally had two small studios under one roof, and I think the financial risk was too high. Now we can barely accommodate our entire staff. I mean, there are all kinds of logistical things, from where to put people to taking that risk.

In the interview, Bancroft and Henn talk extensively about their mutual friends and colleagues. The only two names that come up repeatedly are Disney's other top hand-drawn holders: Eric Goldberg and Randy Haycock. [25] [26] According to Henn, Goldberg and Haycock work mostly remotely these days. In fact, Goldberg has recently moved out, and the Bancrofts have hinted that he and Henn may soon be retiring. If Goldberg and Haycock were to quit, the major 2D animators of the "Disney Renaissance" period of the 1990s would no longer work full time at the studio. Besides the latter two, the only other full-time 2D animation artists currently working in the company's "Creative Legacy" department are director Rachel Bibb, a key assistant animator, and several trainees.

Henn's time as a full-time Disney employee ended earlier than he would have liked, but he explained that he will return to the studio this spring to clear up one outstanding issue:

The plan is that I will return because I left a project I started unfinished. I started a small short film. I talked to [Walt Disney Animation Studios president] Clark [Spencer], and he told me not to put pressure on myself to finish it by the end of the year, because I'm not going to be able to finish it by the end of the year. [The artist, who supervised the animation of iconic Disney characters such as Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Mulan, and Tiana, still has a little further to go.