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Rhett Wickham: Rapunzel Gets Second Director
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by Rhett Wickham (archives)
April 12, 2007
Rhett Wickham breaks the news of the addition of a second director Rapunzel.


It's official, the upcoming animated feature RAPUNZEL has a second director working as an equal alongside Glen Keane - Annie Nominated Animator and Story Artist DEAN WELLINS.

Dean first came to Disney Feature Animation on "Treasure Planet", where he was part of Keane's team on John Silver, before becoming Head of Story on "American Dog", a post he left to take the helm on "Rapunzel" alongside Keane.

Wellins studied character animation at CalArts, and earned his stripes first as an intern and later as a breakdown animator on Turner's "The Pagemaster." From there he moved to Rennegade animation where he was a writer on the Darrell Van Citters directed WB short "Pullet Surprise" among other projects. He then moved over to work as an assistant and story artist on Brad Bird's IRON GIANT over at Warners Feature Animation.

After a search for talent that could meet the demanding deadlines of production and the quality standards of director Bird, Tony Fucile singled out Wellins for a swift promotion to Directing Animator. He was, in fact, nominated for an Annie Award later that year for Outstanding Individual Achievement for Character Animation for his work on Hogarth and Ken Manly (also nominated that year was Glen Keane for Tarzan. Both animators went home empty handed, as Wellins' colleague Steve Markowski went home with the zoetrope for his work on "The Iron Giant".)

Dean came to Disney after completing work on the overlooked but enormously entertaining animated segments of "Osmosis Jones" where he was the directing animator of Thrax, a job he took over when animator Ken Duncan left the project and headed over to DreamWorks. Thrax is the villain voiced by Laurence Fishburne.

No news on exactly how the breakdown of responsibilities will work between Keane and Wellins, who came on board the CG animated fairy tale within the past few weeks, sans any fanfare. But Wellins' outstanding sense of story clearly comes in to play in helping keep this feature on track for the success WDFA guru John Lasseter is seeking, after having already declared that he "cant remember ever seeing a movie that has such a powerful beginning as Rapunzel."

- Rhett Wickham

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Rhett Wickham is a regular editorial contributor to LaughingPlace.com. and the publication Tales From The Laughing Place. He works as creative development and story consultant in Orlando and Los Angeles where he lives with his husband, artist Peter Narus, and their adopted “son?, Cooper. Mr. Wickham is the founder and principal of Creative Development Ink©® doing creative consulting and writing for animation, film and themed entertainment. Among his recent projects is “I’m Reed Fish? for Executive Producer Akiva Goldsman, which debuted at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival, and the upcoming feature “Love Easy.? Prior to working in feature animation production, Mr. Wickham worked as an actor and stage director in NYC. He is a Directing Fellow with the Drama League of New York and in 2003 he was honored with the Nine Old Men Award from Laughing Place readers, “for reminding us why Disney Feature Animation is the heart and soul of Disney.?eaders, “for reminding us why Disney Feature Animation is the heart and soul of Disney.?

The opinions expressed by our Rhett Wickham, and all of our columnists, do not necessarily represent the feelings of LaughingPlace.com or any of its employees or advertisers. All speculation and rumors about the future plans of the Walt Disney Company are just that - speculation and rumors - and should be treated as such.

-- Posted April 12, 2007