SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — A large crowd and symphony music director Ryan Haskins recently welcomed the former Bishop Heelan student back to town.
Ron Clements, who is responsible for several Disney animated movies was back to see his work with Aladdin performed live at the Orpheum. And he was surprised by the presentation of a camera believed to be used to make his first animated film at KCAU all those years ago.
And among those who have worked here artist and award-winning animator Clements just might be the most talented.
The fact that Ron Clements received that film-making artifact at the Orpheum Theatre was fitting. It was there, inside the ornate surroundings of the theatre that his creative juices first flowed.
“The Orpheum Theatre was just down the road from where I grew up and they were the theatre that always showed the Disney movies. It was actually when I was 9 years old and saw the film Pinocchio at the Orpheum theatre that I was blown away by that movie and it just changed my whole way of thinking,” said Clements.
Living in the early 1970s with his family just up Douglas Street from the KCAU studio, Clements unknowingly worked his way into his first job as an artist.
“When I was fifteen years old I did a caricature of Gene Sherman and Charles Harness and turned out well so I sent Them into the station. They actually showed them on the air that night and they didn’t know I was 15, it would have been easier if I was 16. But they rangled something there and I got a job and worked there for 5 years at channel 9,” said Clements.
While there, Clements inspired some of his first animation making a film that eventually was titled Shades of Sherlock Holmes. The rest is history.
The film got Clements in the door with Hannah Barbara and shortly after Disney, where he spent 45 years making some of the industry’s most recognizable animated movies.
Clements says picking a favorite film is like being asked to pick a favorite child, impossible.
But Little Mermaid holds a special place in his memory.
“Little Mermaid is special because I pitched it to the studio. There was a feeling that Disney Animation wasn’t going to continue any longer and the film came through,” Clements said.
It came through just like Aladdin did in 1992.
Clements said the story about an Arabian street urchin who finds a magic lamp containing a genie helped break a negative stereotype he and other animators fought.
“People thought animation, and Disney animation, were just kids’ films. I think Aladdin broke through more than any other,” added Clements.
Just like seeing Pinocchio for the first time at the Orpheum watching Aladdin at the Orpheum alongside the Sioux City Symphony offered another emotional first.
“Reall, really cool and exciting emotionally to be in that theatre to see that movie and in a way that I have never seen before,” Clements said.
Now retired, Clements sees the world of animation through a different lens.
“Now animation is everywhere. Video games, even live action. People don’t know it but it’s everywhere. I’m really excited to see where it goes from here,” he added.
Two weeks ago the live-action adaptation of Aladdin opened in theatres.
Clements was not part of the project, but you will see him listed in the credits. He was responsible for the original screenplay and directed and produced it along with fellow animator John Musker.