DES MOINES – “Moana,” “Big Hero 6” and “The Princess and the Frog” are Walt Disney Animation Studios blockbusters with an Iowa connection. All three movies featured the work of Sioux City native Ron Clements and Glenwood native Don Hall.
Next month, the state will welcome Hall back for a special Produce Iowa “Hollywood Backstories” series of public events and activities at the State Historical Museum of Iowa. Hall will lead a drawing activity, press his handprints into a cement tile for posterity, discuss his career and introduce a free screening of the movie that earned him his Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature, “Big Hero 6.”
“It’s amazing to have two highly successful Iowans from different backgrounds now working together, as top animation filmmakers, in Burbank,” said Liz Gilman, executive producer of Produce Iowa, the state office of media production. “We thought this was unique and wanted to dive into their early inspirations to see how Iowa helped shape their careers.”
The “Hollywood in the Heartland” exhibition will showcase some of Hall’s and Clements’ early childhood drawings, which provide some insight on how their works matured over the years on the way to the big screen.
Hall’s journey to Disney began in Glenwood, Iowa, where he was drawn to Marvel comics and animated films. He earned a bachelor’s degree in drawing and painting from the University of Iowa and, in 1995, graduated from the California Institute of the Arts. He then joined Walt Disney Animation Studios and fulfilled a lifelong dream. He’s had his hand in many successful films including “Tarzan,” “The Emperor’s New Groove,” “Meet the Robinsons,” as well as co-director of “Moana” and a director of “Big Hero 6” and “Winnie the Pooh.”
Clements grew up in Sioux City and worked at KCAU-TV before he joined Hanna-Barbera in 1972. A few years later he moved to Walt Disney Animation Studios and has a long list of credits as an animator and then as a director on classic films such as “The Great Mouse Detective,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” “Hercules,” “The Princess and the Frog” and “Moana.” Clements has plans to visit the museum at a later date.
If you go:
Hollywood Backstories with Don Hall
Where: State Historical Museum of Iowa, 600 E. Locust St. in Des Moines
When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019
Admission: Free and open to the public
10 a.m. – Draw with Don
Join Don Hall and the museum staff for a workshop about the animation process, designed for participants ages 8 and up. Admission is free, but pre-registration is required.
11 a.m. – Photo opportunity and autographs in the “Hollywood in the Heartland” exhibit
See the new animation display and meet Don Hall.
1 p.m. – “Hollywood Backstories” with Don Hall
Gather in the museum auditorium for a special handprint ceremony on stage and then Hall will join Produce Iowa’s Liz Gilman for a Q&A session about his rise from Iowa to Hollywood and some behind-the-scenes scoop.
2 p.m. – Free screening of “Big Hero 6”
See the movie that Hall directed and that received the 2015 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. It tells the tale of a young tech whiz named Hiro who must save his city with the help of his inflatable robot Baymax, as well as his friends GoGo Tomago, Wasabi, Honey Lemon and Fred.
The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its three divisions – the Iowa Arts Council, Produce Iowa - State Office of Media Production and the State Historical Society of Iowa – empower Iowa to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting Iowans to the people, places and points of pride that define our state. The department’s work enables Iowa to be recognized as a state that fosters creativity and serves as a catalyst for innovation where the stories of Iowa are preserved and communicated to connect past, present and future generations.