Winnie the Pooh Animator Burny Mattinson and the Bear Story
By now I am hoping that you have all seen Winnie the Pooh, which came out on July 15th, 2011. As some of you may know, I had the unique opportunity to go to Los Angeles for a special screening of the film and to meet with cast members, directors, the producer, and some of the animators.
One of the animators that we got to meet was Burny Mattinson. Burny has been with Walt Disney Studios since 1953. His first job for Disney was in the mail room, but he had aspirations of becoming an animator one day. The first film he worked on at Walt Disney was Lady and the Tramp drawing filler pictures between the key frames. Eventually he moved on to work as a character animator, and actually worked on the original Winnie the Pooh.
He is highly revered by everyone at Walt Disney Studios, and is fondly referred to as the Pooh guru. “I got involved in this when the directors came to me and they asked me, ‘Do we do some Beat Boards for this cool picture?’ And I had worked originally on the original one and so they felt well maybe he knows something.”
Burny explained to us how they stayed true to the original movies in the 2011 Winnie the Pooh, and he also had a great story to tell us about the Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal that we see at the beginning of the film. “My wife actually made this fella,” he told us while holding the actual bear on his lap. The director of the original had decided that they wanted to do a live action scene for the opening of the film. “I went home and told my wife about it, who was making dolls for the kids…she stitched together this little doll here. I brought it into Willy and showed it to him And he said, ‘Oh my gosh. He says if I’d only known. I’ve already contracted with another person to do these–’. The director then asked Burny if he could keep the bear on his desk for a while. Eventually the director gave it back to him, and Burny took Winnie the Pooh home for his children to play with. The bear then ended up in his attic, and was forgotten about for years and years. “And then I heard that we were gonna’ re-shoot the opening again I brought the doll in and everybody looked at it said, ‘Wow! That’s our doll.’ So he finally got his chance.”
If you have a copy of the new movie at home, you should watch that opening scene again and take another look at the Winnie the Pooh doll. Such a great Disney story, isn’t it?
*Disney/DreamWorks provided me with an all expenses paid trip to Los Angeles to see a special screening of Winnie the Pooh and to meet with the cast and crew of the film. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.*