Kirk Wise

Director, Animator, Storyman
Becoming a Disney animator would appear to have been the fulfillment of a childhood dream for ace animation director Kirk Wise. With co-director Gary Trousdale, he was responsible for helming the celebrated "Beauty and ... Read more »
Born: 11/09/1958 in San Francisco, California, USA

Filmography

Director (4)

Spirited Away 2002 (Movie)

(USA release) (Director)

Atlantis: the Lost Empire 2001 (Movie)

(Director)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1996 (Movie)

(Director)

Beauty and the Beast 1991 (Movie)

(Director)
Art Department (3)

Waking Sleeping Beauty 2010 (Movie)

Caricature Artist (Storyboard Artist)

The Prince and the Pauper 1990 (Movie)

storyboard (Storyboard Artist)

The Rescuers Down Under 1990 (Movie)

storyboards (Storyboard Artist)
Writer (3)

Atlantis: the Lost Empire 2001 (Movie)

(Story By)

The Lion King 1994 (Movie)

story material (Story By)

Oliver & Company 1988 (Movie)

(From Story)
Visual Effects & Animation (2)

The Brave Little Toaster 1989 (Movie)

(developmental) (Animation Director)

Oliver & Company 1988 (Movie)

animation assistant (Effects Assistant)
Producer (2)

Oceans 2010 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Homeward Bound: the Incredible Journey 1993 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)
Actor (2)

Waking Sleeping Beauty 2010 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Biography

Becoming a Disney animator would appear to have been the fulfillment of a childhood dream for ace animation director Kirk Wise. With co-director Gary Trousdale, he was responsible for helming the celebrated "Beauty and the Beast" (1991), the first animated feature to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Wise began laying the groundwork for his adult successes as a youngster, earning his first paycheck for drawing at age seven after his mother submitted his sketch of a garbage man and his truck to the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE's "Junior Art Champion" Contest. Winning praise, a check and a commendation from the local sanitation department spurred his creativity.

By the fifth grade, Wise was attending a community center course in animation, making his first crude super-8 movies using cut-outs and clay figures. He continued to make little films--of increasing sophistication--throughout junior high and high school. Informed by his father of the programs in character animation at the Disney-sponsored CalArts, Wise applied and was accepted. Though he worked his way through school as a caricaturist at Universal Studios and Magic Mountain, his future would lie at the Walt Disney Studio.

Wise was hired for his first Disney assignment while still a senior at CalArts--providing freelance animation for a "Sport Goofy Soccermania" TV special. Following graduation, he contributed animation and storyboarding to various projects including the Disney animated features "The Great Mouse Detective" (1986) and "Oliver & Company" (1988). Discovering that he was more interested in story and character development, Wise began deploying these skills on various Disney projects including the 1989 short "Cranium Command" (which he also co-directed and provided the voice of the "Hypothalamus"). This four-minute animated pre-show for the "Wonders of Life" exhibit at Disney's Epcot Center in Florida was notable as Wise's first directing collaboration with Gary Trousdale. With complementary abilities in animation--Wise's forte being character animation and acting, Trousdale's being special effects and layout, both with strengths in color--the pair proved a formidable team.

Wise and Trousdale both received story credits on the innovative computer animated short "Oilspot and Lipstick" and the features "Oliver & Company" (1988) and "The Lion King" (1994). They also shared storyboard credits on the Mickey Mouse short "The Prince and the Pauper" and the feature sequel "The Rescuers Down Under" (both 1990). The critical and commercial success of "Beauty and the Beast" made Hollywood finally take serious notice of animation. The film also demonstrated that the musical could again be a viable film genre. (It even generated a successful Broadway musical spin-off.) That each of the six musical numbers either revealed character or advanced the plot certainly contributed to the film's success. Just as important were the vibrant, well-defined characters and the artful use of developing CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) technology. Wise and Trousdale exhibited similar strengths in the their next directing collaboration, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (1996), a kinder, gentler, musical take on Victor Hugo's oft-adapted 1831 novel.

EDUCATION

California Institute of the Arts

Valencia , California 1985
received certificate; hired by Disney to do freelance animation for the "Sport Goofy Soccermania" TV special during his senior year

Milestones

2001

With Trousdale, served as co-director of the Disney animated feature "Atlantis: The Lost Empire"

1996

Reteamed with directing partner Trousdale for Disney's 34th full-length animated feature, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"

1996

Entered into a long-term exclusive commitment to Walt Disney Feature Animation that will reteam him with Trousdale on several projects

1994

Provided additional story material to the blockbuster animated feature "The Lion King"

1993

Feature producing debut, executive produced the live-action Disney remake "Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey"; also supervised the writing and recording of the animals' dialogue; paricipated in the casting of the voice talents

1993

Was collaborating with Trousdale in preproduction on "A Song of the Sea", a proposed animated feature about humpbacked whales, when the opportunity came to switch projects; began preproduction on "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (date approximate)

1991

Made feature directing debut (with Trousdale) on the acclaimed animated feature, "Beauty and the Beast"

1989

First directing collaboration with Gary Trousdale on "Cranium Command", the four-minute animated pre-show for the "Wonders of Life" exhibit at the Epcot center at Disneyworld; also provided the voice of the "Hypothalmus"

1988

Received first story credit on a Disney feature, "Oliver & Company" (also animation assistant)

1987

Contributed animation and storyboarding to the cartoon feature "The Brave Little Toaster"; credited as animation director (developmental)

1987

Contributed animation and storyboarding to "Family Dog", a fully animated installment of the fantasy anthology series "Amazing Stories"

1986

First Disney feature credit, served as assistant animator on "The Great Mouse Detective"

Made films throughout junior high school and high school

Worked as a storyman on various Disney projects

Earned first paycheck for drawing at age seven when his mother submitted his sketch of a garbage truck and garbage man to the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE's "Junior Art Champion" Contest [see Notes]

In fifth grade, took a community center course in animation; made his first super-8 films using cut-outs and clay figures

Grew up in and around the San Francisco Bay Area, principally in Palo Alto, CA

Bonus Trivia

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In addition to winning the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE's "Junior Art Champion" contest, the seven-year-old Wise also won praise from the city's sanitation department which sent him a letter of commendation and a check for the free advertising.

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