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Question: What about The Secret of NIMH, that you feel has left a lasting impression after all these years?
They escape and now are dealing with the politics and moral issues of their life style, stealing from the farmer, grain from his barn and electricity from his house. Many of the special effects’ techniques we rediscovered while working on Banjo really helped our efforts on NIMH.
Question: The voices are such a perfect fit for the characters, how did you go about casting for the characters voices? We also remembered another popular 1976 TV mini series, Rich Man Poor Man, and felt that Peter Strauss would be a good choice for Justin. Question: The film had definitely inspired a generation of artists, who pursed animation in the following decade in the so called second golden age of animation.
I run into so many people that name The Secret of NIMH as their favorite animated film of all time. During the day, we were working on our second feature film, East of the Sun : West of the Moon. However, in the first 6 years we did have access to Eric Larson, as the designated Mentor for new trainees. They were on the live action set with the live action director, confirming the individual scene setups where the actors and the dragon appeared together in various scenes to insure there was room for the animation of Elliot the dragon in the frame.
All of these people are very good actors and their voices unique from each other and interesting, The dark, powerful voice of Paul Shenar got our attention, we sought him out and cast him as Jenner, and the Shakespearean-trained actor, John Carradine was perfect for the dark, ominous Great Owl. When did it ever occur (moment) to you that you made something special that would endure over time? That evening, Don, John, his wife Lorna, Dorse & Vera Lanpher and I went to the Century City Theaters for opening night. I was privileged to work as Frank Thomas’ inbetweener and assistant animator for my first two years there. The key to staying on schedule is achieving weekly footage goals, creating sufficient inventories for each department in order for them to make their weekly goals. All three of us were at home watching the film, The End, starring Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuis. An important one for me was helping to train young artists, and watching them grow into their roles for the team.
Ages to get the medicine for Timmy, the scenes with her and Ages in the thrashing machine, going down to Ages’ laboratory in the basket, in the laboratory, in the Brisby home, feeding Timmy the medicine. We were young, naive, enthusiastic, with a mission to do something that could be a classic. But honestly, I believe that with the right story and a good budget, with top animation staff involved, another traditional, hand-drawn animated film could be a major success, re-introducing that art form and be the spark needed for the medium to get moving again. At the time, that we were introduced to the book, it was mandatory 5th grade reading material in most schools in the US. I think that the sincerity of the film and the message connects with the audience, and I believe it will still connect decades from today.
It opened in only 127 theaters on the west coast, including California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona and Hawaii, with very little promotion. Also still animating were Ollie Johnston, John Lounsbery and Milt Kahl, whose office was right across from the office I occupied, and Don and John were just down the hall.
Without the right amount of inventory in each department, there was no way for the departments to make their goals.

Don had asked the then CEO, Ron Miller if he’d like to see our garage project, Banjo the Woodpile Cat. Make an endearing movie that hopefully would touch the imagination of the child in all of us, from 8 to 80. We felt we were making something that would jolt Disney back into being Disney, and start the second golden age of animation. It was a good story about a widowed field mouse whose youngest child was stricken with pneumonia. When we left the Disney organization, we told them that we had done our best to try to bring back the meaningful stories and production values that made those classic Disney films so wonderful.
Though, the film got a lot of press from the critics and columnists that had followed our departure from Disney. Linda Miller’s animation of Jeremy the Crow in the introduction of Jeremy sequence at the log. The music will be created out of dialogue, chords, and SFX from The Secret of NIMH combined with different genre elements. I can tell youre afraid to move any closer You say youve learned your lesson before And youre sure You wont risk your love anymore. But, that we felt it necessary to leave the company and make the effort from the outside, and maybe, just maybe the competition would convince them that they had to get back in the game.
Then, over the next 2 to 3 weeks it was released in a progression across the country, with a total of around 670 theaters by the time it reached the east coast. Sounds a bit over-confident, even arrogant, but at the time we meant it with great sincerity. But, everyone was pumped and gave their all to get the production done, and with all the bells and whistles we were trying to achieve.
We had hoped that the studio might like what we were doing and agree to buy the film and allow us to finish the short film in the studio, which would allow us to recoup what we had spent in terms of money and the many hours that we and the other members of the team had invested in the film. I think working with Jerry Goldsmith, becoming friends and attending the scoring sessions in London with the London Philharmonic Orchestra was very special to me. If you believe the Taylor Swift The Time are not correct you can correct them or rate the quality of these This guarantees accurate pays the artists for their work. Every spring, the field rodents would move from the field back into the wooded areas, to protect their families from the annual plowing and planting.
However, I hear so often from friends in the industry that our departure from Disney, the fruit of our efforts, and because that film made a huge impact and helped usher in the renaissance, a second golden age of animation in the eighties and nineties. The four of us stood behind the half-wall that divided the last row of seats and the doors into the theater. And, YES actually, there was serious panic, but never a doubt on what we were trying to do.
The main reason we were making the film was to gain skills in other areas of the production process, which were not being addressed at Disney in their animation training program, which we felt we needed if we were to be ready to lead when the last of the old guard retired.
And, second to that was supervising the final dub with Jerry and a great sound designer, David Horten was something I will never forget. Dan Kuenster’s animation of Justin and the other mice with the torches, making their way through the water and debris to find Nicodemus dead. We believe that NIMH‘s original late August release date would have had less competition and a better box office result. Widow Frisby spent the winter with her four children in a cinder block near a large stone in the middle of the farmer’s field. Panic happened weekly, even daily, with solving bubbles or bottlenecks in the system, scenes held up in different departments, sometimes because of difficulty level, multiple characters, multiple effects levels, various issues that caused inventory delays.

It was no more than about two months, when I got a call from Jim Stewart at Aurora Productions. He worked for year on the sound effects for the film, and some of his most beautiful efforts had to be edited to make room for Jerry’s score. The scenes with Brisby, Nicodemus and Justin in the gondola, when Brisby volunteers to drug Dragon, the farmers cat, the scenes of Brisby in the bird cage… too many scenes to call my favorite. In her quest to get her youngest child well and escape the terror of the farmer’s tractor and plow she uncovers a secret.
Frank and Ollie were easy to go to guys, so was Lounsbery, but many of our questions were about special effects and unique camera scene planning.
There were a ton of scenes with excellent effects animation by Tom Hush, Diann Landau and Bruce Heller, directed by Dorse (Lanpher),. I pretty much sacrificed my animation career to concentrate on producing, dealing with the agents of the actors and composers, supervising final sound mixes and eventually co-directing with Don. When the audience came out, we were surprised to see several of the young Disney animators come out. It has to be made up within a few weeks, or it will grow into a really big problem, delaying the delivery of the film. Rats that had been captured from the city streets and taken to place where they were experimented on, which made them smarter.
And, it took four years and seven months to complete – working nights and weekends while working days at Disney. We were able to combine a lot of David’s sounds, treating them like part of the orchestra. We were thinking of actors, that not only would fit the part, but also that they some celebrity, just thinking of commercial value, in that they would be fairly easy to get on various talk shows to help promote the film when it was time to release it to theaters.
All three of us were familiar with A Patch of Blue, the 1965 film, in which she played a blind girl with Sidney Poitier, a role in which, she was nominated for an Academy Award.
Also, looking back, the art direction was tightly controlled, which Don carefully supervised himself, with just three background artists, Don Moore, Ron Diaz and Dave Goetz – Three artists doing almost a thousand backgrounds in less that two years is just amazing! Her performance in that film was so believable and sincere that we all felt that she was right for the part.
A fourth background artist, Bill Lorencz, who had shaded much of Don’s story panels, jumped in to help finish the backgrounds during the final push, painting most, if not all of the art in the end credits. Ship is an original musical with music and by Sting and a book by John Logan and Brian Yorkey. For Nicodemus, John (Pomeroy) recommended I Claudius star, Derek Jacobi from the 1976 TV mini series. This is the time Im asking you this Put my name at the top of your list This is the time Im asking you why You break my heart in the blink of an eye. When you told me that you love me I believed you, darling, But you lied, you know its true. Watching the stars till theyre gone Like an actor all alone Who never knew the story he was in Who never knew the story ends.

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