Don Bluth - Creator of Dragon's Lair, Space Ace, and Dragon's Lair II
Don Bluth is recognized as one of the most prestigious Animators in the film business and is admired by his peers all over the world for his creative talent as well as his versatility in bringing his memorable characters to life. While working on his films, Bluth wears many hats. He designs all the characters, serves as the Key Storyboard Artist, and when the mood strikes him, he has also been known to write some clever songs to accompany his lively and amusing characters. As if these duties don't keep him busy enough, he also writes and/or collaborates on most of the scripts for his projects.
Bluth was born into a family of seven children in El Paso, Texas and grew up in a very creative environment. After watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - he found his calling. From the age of six on, he could always be found drawing. It soon became his dream to work for Walt Disney Studios and bring his drawings to life as he had seen accomplished in films.
Bluth's family moved to Santa Monica, California, and upon graduation from high school, he took a portfolio of his drawings to the Disney studio in Burbank. He accepted a position in the animation department as an In-betweener (someone who does the drawings in between the Animator's key drawings to complete a movement). He worked there from 1955 through 1956 on the classic motion picture Sleeping Beauty.
Making the decision to continue his formal education, Bluth enrolled at Brigham Young University, studying English Literature. However, during this time he continued to work during the summers for Disney.
After completing his education, he and his brother Frederick started a live theater in Santa Monica where they produced and directed popular musical comedies. Although this venture proved to be exciting, after three years Bluth decided to commit to a career in animation.
His first job upon re-entering the animation field was for Filmation Studios in Los Angeles, a television animation production company. He was hired as a Layout Artist, which in television production requires that the artist draw the stage or set design and the character poses for the Animators. Bluth was extremely adept at this and was promoted to the head of the department where he continued to work for three years.
In 1971, he returned to the Disney Animation Department as an Animator. Bluth then began what would be considered a sky-rocket ride to the top of the animation field. He was promoted within two years to Directing Animator, followed by Director of Animation, and the following year he became a Producer/Director. From 1971 to 1979, Bluth worked on many well-known Disney projects including Robin Hood (1973), Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too (1974), The Rescuers (1976), Pete's Dragon (1977), and The Small One (1978).
Inspired by many of Disney's classics and filled with the desire to restore that quality to animated films, Bluth began a short project in his garage with two fellow Disney Animators, Gary Goldman and John Pomeroy. This short project, known as Banjo the Woodpile Cat, began production in March 1975. For the next four and a half years the trio worked nights and weekends in all areas of production to accomplish the finished product. During this time they still kept their "day" jobs at Disney.
In early 1979, Bluth, Goldman, and Pomeroy were approached by film industry businessmen who offered to fund them on a feature film. Banjo served as an excellent portfolio and showed that they could create the "classical" look. On Bluth's birthday in September 1979, he and his partners resigned from Walt Disney Productions to start their own independent production company. For their first feature film, they selected Robert C. O'Brien's award-winning novel Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. In 1982, they completed this feature with the altered title, The Secret of NIMH. With the introduction of new laserdisc technology, in 1983 Bluth and partners created the first interactive laserdisc game, Dragon's Lair. In 1984, they began work on An American Tail, in collaboration with Steven Spielberg. In 1986, they moved their studio and employees to Dublin, Ireland. Their studio grew to be the largest in Europe.
Under the Don Bluth name, Bluth has created many prestigious animated films and laserdisc video game projects including Banjo the Woodpile Cat (1979), an animated sequence in Xanadu (1980), The Secret of NIMH (1982), Dragon's Lair video game (1983), Space Ace video game (1983), An American Tail (1986), The Land Before Time (1988), All Dogs Go To Heaven (1989), Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp video game (1989), Rock-A-Doodle (1990), Thumbelina (1993), and A Troll in Central Park (1993).
Don Bluth has been an active member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences since 1976. He and creative partner Gary Goldman most recently produced the feature film Anastasia, which was released in November 1997, and Titan AE, which was released in June 2000.
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