Director - Moana, Little Mermaid, Disney
John Musker is a 40 year veteran of the Walt Disney Animation Studio where he was an animator, storyboard artist, writer, director, and producer.
John grew up in Chicago, Illinois as part of a large Irish Catholic family. He followed up his English Literature studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, with two years at CalArts as part of the new Character Animation Program in the mid-Seventies, where he learned not only from Disney and Chouinard veterans like Elmer Plummer, Bill Moore, and Ken O’Connor, but also his fellow classmates there, many who have gone on to direct distinguished films: folks like Brad Bird, Henry Selick, John Lasseter, Tim Burton, and Chris Buck. At Disney he was mentored by Eric Larson, the veteran animator and one of Disney’s fabled “Nine Old Men,” who brought Figaro the cat to life in Pinocchio, among many other characters in his distinguished career.
John became an animator on The Fox and the Hound (1981), and later joined Ron Clements to direct The Great Mouse Detective (1986) alongside Disney veterans Burny Mattinson and Dave Michener. Ron and John paired up to write and direct The Little Mermaid (1989) which John co- produced with Howard Ashman. Ron and John also wrote and directed a number of subsequent animated features including Aladdin (1992) Hercules (1997) Treasure Planet ( 2002) and The Princess and the Frog ( 2009.) John’s most recent project was Moana (2016) which he once again directed with Ron Clements, along with co-directors Don Hall and Chris Williams.
John retired from Disney Feature Animation in the spring of 2018, and is currently animating by hand his own short film, as well as chasing around his two and a half year old granddaughter Lucy and her baby sis, Gwen.
John resides in La Cañada, California, with his wife Gale, a former researcher at Disney, not far from his three grown children Patrick, Jackson, and Julia.
9:30AM - 10:30AM
Opening Keynote with John Musker
Legendary Disney director John Musker kicks things off with a keynote talk about writing and directing. John will share some photos and behind the scenes highlight from some of the films he’s been involved in. You may see some of his early animation tests and if you play your cards right, hear the story of how he came to Disney (and animation) in the first place (after initial rejection.)
John is an industry veteran known for his work on Disney classics such as Aladdin, The Fox & The Hound, The Little Mermaid, and more recent hits like Moana.
1:00PM - 2:00PM
Co-Directing (Learning How to Cooperate and Play Nice)
Learn from one half of two of the most esteemed teams in co-directing. John Musker shares his secrets from his collaborations at Disney with Ron Clements, and Mark Thornton of Neptoon Studios shares his tricks from partner Todd Kauffman. These dynamic duos have co-directed such films and television series as Moana, Grojband, The Little Mermaid, Corner Gas Animated, The Princess and the Frog, Looped, Aladdin, Total Drama Island, Hercules, and Treasure Planet.
Learn some tips, hear some stories, and share some laughs.