Disney Animator Inspires Students at PUC

By Stephanie Rosenburg on March 12, 2010

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Students in the film & television production program have many opportunities for experience and learning, from filming in the Fisher studio to presentations such as Toomey's.

Disney animator Marshall Toomey spoke at Pacific Union College on March 2 about his career and experience with Disney. Toomey, who worked on classic Disney characters such as Rafiki from The Lion King and the Quasimodo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, was met by an engaged audience of students, faculty and community members, who filled the Chan Shun Hall lecture room.

Toomey talked about his career and what it has taken him to get this far. Above all, Toomey stressed perseverance. “Follow your dream,” he said, and that is exactly what he’s done.

Students resonated with Toomey and his energetic personality. Film and television major Marcus Klonek was just one of many students who enjoyed Toomey’s lecture. A future animator himself, Klonek found Toomey’s career inspirational. It was rewarding to hear Toomey speak and “just get the feeling from a professional on what it takes to be in the field,” Klonek said. “It's neat that he’s the guy who does the final animations which get shown on the big screen.”

Toomey has worked with Disney for over 30 years and loves his work because, as he says, “I get to draw every day.” Even as a child, he knew he wanted to draw. He came to California in his twenties on a whim. Originally from a small town in Missouri, he and a group of college friends decided to head west to Hollywood. “We figured we would either make it out here, or go home.”

Decades later, he says, “I’m still here.”

Toomey recounted to the PUC group the history of his career, starting with Disney in the late 1980s and working his way up to supervising the company's clean-up animation department for Tarzan and playing a big part in other movies, such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mulan, and Atlantis: The Lost Empire. He spoke also of the difficulties facing the field of animation today, and how he’s had to adapt to digital. With the rise of 3D animation and movies such as Disney’s Toy Story, his department was first cut in half, and then disbanded completely. Recently, Toomey has worked with a Disney animated television series, been the art director for a live film, Sky High, and returned to the Disney animation department as key assistant animator for their latest film, The Princess and the Frog. In sum, Toomey says, “I’m happy as long as I get to draw.”

Twoomey spoke at PUC as part of the Spirituality Film Series and the Dinner Theater Diversity Film Series, providing film-related learning opportunities for film and television majors and other students on campus.