Mindy Johnson’s Advice to the Young Generation of “Film Experts” – Animation Scoop

Mindy Johnson’s Advice to the Young Generation of “Film Experts”

Any self proclaimed “film expert” might look up trivia on the most critically acclaimed films, or discover what really goes on during the making of their favorite cartoons online. As a film nerd myself – especially when it comes to Disney – I love being able to pull out a random fact or spew out a mouthful of information with my friends and colleagues. The internet is full of all kinds of “historical content”, which can spread both fact and fiction amongst the masses in a matter of seconds (thank you, social media). I may be one of the few millennial who has turned to books – I have a growing collection that I call my library. Aside from film theory, plays, and copies of screenplays, there are books about Disneyland, the music of Disney films, books on the history of animation, and most recently, a book entitled Ink and Paint- The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation.

Creativity meets expertise in Mindy Johnson: an award winning author, historian, musician, playwright, and professor based in the Los Angeles area. Johnson has produced several books on early film and animation, and conducted astounding works of research in regards to women’s role throughout the history of cinema. Her newest book, Ink and Paint- The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation, is a groundbreaking and detailed account of the ladies hired to work with Disney over the course of the 20th century.

Today’s youth may register the importance of such a book, but would they understand why? I asked Ms. Johnson herself for her thoughts on this matter. “They don’t have an understanding of history, or aren’t thinking back that far… or aren’t as sensitive to it… so I think it’s important to kind of contextualize. Women did not have the right to vote until the 1920s… until 1920. And for people of your generation to understand that, it’s, you know, for me to explain that, it’s three years before Walt Disney started his studio… Ah! That changes things. “

Johnson’s book includes thorough information on important dates for each decade, and makes the connection between the current events of the past and the Disney studio. Having an understanding of what was happening in the world during the time a certain film was released can put things in a new and sharper perspective. “Having a good sense of history is pretty important,” says Johnson. “Even today’s history. Today’s world. To have a sense of, ‘how am I going to write about this?’ so that the reader fully understands.”

How can someone truly be a film expert? Familiarity with all kinds of history can change everything about what you think you know about film and animation. Johnson would suggest that taking “as many history classes as you can get your hands on (is) important, not even film-history, but history-history.”

Mindy Johnson

“Start compiling your research. Start doing the research… Taking a well rounded approach to whatever it is you’re researching is probably the best thing you can do. Get a sense of film history, where and what. Get to screenings and things that are happening around town. And understand the creative process. I think it’s deeply important to understand what it takes, to understand the animation process or the digital process, and you have to keep in mind that where we are today in animation is gonna be dated at one point. That’s equally important, preserving and restoring what’s going on today in terms of animation.”

If you are hoping to produce a film or animation history book of your own someday, she’d advise you to embrace a “well rounded” state of mind when conducting research. From this clarity comes her incredible new book on women’s role in Disney’s animation – a topic that needed exploration, and will undoubtedly ignite further research. Perhaps more will be uncovered on this topic and others, and hopefully it will come with the same level of integrity and commitment that is exemplified by Mindy Johnson.

Lauren Baker

Lauren Baker

Lauren Ashton Baker is a Disneyland Park and Disney Animation Historian based in Los Angeles. She is also an actor, dancer, and stop motion artist who has trained and performed in New York City and Los Angeles over the past four years. She currently attends the California Institute of the Arts as a BFA Acting candidate, and will be performing in the upcoming productions of The Asher Hartman Project (February 2017) and Hamlet (April 2017).

Lauren's Gallery and Collection of Concept Art and Fun Disney History: https://www.instagram.com/disneyanimationhistory/?hl=en
Lauren Baker
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