Mr. John McDonald lives in Portland, Oregon (home of Powell’s- the world’s largest book store!) and spends his days writing plays, baking from vintage cookbooks, and absorbing the unique visual art of his city. He has a BA from Portland State University and a variety of plays and screenplays in his repertoire for use at a moment’s notice. He’s a fan of Stephen Sondheim, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Vincent Price. Mr. McDonald is a big believer in the creative process as a unique entity for each creative person and likes to push students into working to find their voice at the moment in which they live.
Whether you’re critical of or absolutely love the Walt Disney company, this class examines how Disney adapted works, how the culture responds, and what the “Disney brand” really means (if anything).
You don’t need to have seen Disney movies to be influenced by them. While Disney is known for adapting and becoming a big company with so many memorable films, many people don’t always appreciate how the message of the Disney brand influences them and the broader culture.
Crafting Disney Stories is recommended for learners ages 13 to 18. Over the course of eight classes, we will discuss many facets of the Disney universe. Starting with the nuts and bolts of adapting a fairy tale into a short animated movie (along with the technology that made it possible), we’ll talk about things like- what makes a princess a princess? Why and how did Gaston make the crowd so afraid so easily in Beauty and the Beast?, How Disney can adapt the same story many times in many different ways, and just a little bit about the Disney parks themselves. Some articles will be given for homework and discussed at the following class.
As a final project, students will play a Disney merchandising game. This final project comes with a lot of options to pursue! You’ll choose one movie under the Disney umbrella and you’ll create new merchandise for it. Options for merchandise creation: another film in the universe (sequel, midquel, prequel- film trailer or storyboard), holiday decor (ornaments, special pin sets), home items (towels, kitchen ware, anything you see in the Disney store basically), toy (doll, action figure, mock tea set, racing cars, etc), new board game, sports equipment, makeup line, etc. Try your best not to just refurbish something already established.
The expectation is that you will document the creation process from sketches up until and including the building of a prototype (depending on what direction you take your merchandising). We’ll discuss during the first class what Disney film you want to merchandise and then we can continue to talk about what is feasible for creation during the classes we have.
Sample Course Outline
This class has 8 meetings where each meeting explores an aspect of the Disney universe. A sample course outline is provided:
- Introductions, Terms to Know, Why A Class About Disney?, Final Project Discussion
- Know Your Sources – Steamboat Willie, Snow White and the 7 Dwarves
- The Search for Treasure: Muppets, Planets, and Islands
- Deep Dives- Jafar’s Staff, The Diverse History of the Haunted Mansion
- Who Controls the Narrative: Beauty and the Beast
- The Princess “Dilemma”: Cinderella, Ariel, Tiana
- Pastiche & Pop Culture- The Worlds of Wreck It Ralph and Sleeping Beauty
- Final Presentations
Crafting Disney Stories is offered Fall 2019.