Longtime Disney animator Glen Keane on surprise in storytelling

What’s the Story? is a storytelling video series dedicated to learning what truly makes a great story, told through the lens of the world’s talent and practitioners of the craft in entertainment, marketing and beyond.

Longtime Disney animator Glen Keane learned his craft early. As the son of Family Circus cartoonist Bil Keane, the younger Keane took to art at a young age, then translated it into a career with Disney that spanned 37 years.

As the lead character animator, he was responsible for animating some of Disney's most memorable characters, such as The Little Mermaid’s Ariel and the eagle Marahute in The Rescuers Down Under. He was also the supervising animator on Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and Pocahontas.

Keane retired from Disney in 2013, but his work hasn’t ceased — especially in the brand world. He branched out to animate and direct a short Spotlight Story film for Moto X devices, and animated and directed the short Dear Basketball, based on a poem written by Kobe Bryant to announce his NBA retirement.

Needless to say, Keane knows a good story, no matter if the characters are cartoon or real life.

He loves when stories start with “You’re never going to believe what happened,” because he is attracted to characters who believe the impossible is possible – like a mermaid that falls in love with a two-legged man, or a beast that finds the love of a woman.

The best story he’s ever heard is very much in the “you’re never going to believe what happened” milieu and a very personal one that led to his very existence. It is about his father in World War II, where, as chance would have it, he was about to be deployed on a dangerous mission in the South Pacific. When the acting general found out he was a cartoonist, he had him draw a caricature of him. The general liked it so much, he helped get him out of a combat role and into a journalist/cartoonist role, where he eventually met Glen Keane’s mother.

An incredible story to be sure, but one with an important lesson — if you follow what you love in your life, good things can certainly happen.

What's the Story? is sponsored by Branded Entertainment Network (BEN), the first global network for branded product integration in the entertainment industry, across all media, including the influencer space.

Filmed at Tribeca Film Festival

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