I was born during the last century in Astoria, Queens, a borough of New York City, and raised in Massapequa on the south shore of New York’s Long Island. At Massapequa High School, I majored in art and mischief. Despite the stern prediction of my tenth-grade English teacher, I have never gone to prison. Instead, I enrolled in the Advertising Art program at the State University of New York at Farmingdale. It was there, while taking a T.V. graphics class, that I created my first piece of animation. At about the same time, I was handed an article, by a friend, from the NY Times about Disney training the next generation of animators at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)in Los Angeles. After being accepted, I headed west to attend CalArts and majored in animation and hijinks.
Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts, I began my career in animation eventually being hired by the famed Walt Disney Animation Studios in Burbank, California. Starting in the entry level position of inbetweener in the special effects department on The Black Cauldron and rising quickly to an effects animator on The Great Mouse Detective, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Oliver & Company, Tummy Trouble, The Little Mermaid, Roller Coaster Rabbit, and The Rescuers Down Under. I became a supervising effects animator on Beauty and the Beast and continued doing effects animation on Aladdin, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Runaway Brain, with additional effects supervision on The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Hercules, before becoming the visual effects supervisor on Fantasia/2000.
Every film had its challenges and was a learning opportunity to expand my skillset and to do research into how the early animated features were crafted. It’s important to understand what was accomplished before so that you can continue to build on those achievements—pushing the boundaries of art and innovation.
In those years, I was also freelancing as a special effects animator, consultant, and artist, contributing my talents to The Land Before Time, Stay Tuned, The Ren & Stimpy Show, Clerks, Spider-Man, Bambi II, Brother Bear II, and numerous commercials and several public television history shows. After Fantasia/2000, I continued as a visual effects supervisor and artistic coordinator on the Academy Award © nominated short Lorenzo and The Little Matchgirl; co-directed One by One; and was the associate producer on the Academy Award © nominated short Destino.
During that time, I began doing special projects for various theme park attractions and other partners around The Walt Disney Company. Becoming the producer, creative director, and head of special projects at Walt Disney Animation Studios and leading a team of talented artists and technicians on hundreds of projects throughout the company. We were part of the creative teams for numerous iconic theme park attractions including the World of Color at Disney’s California Adventure; the Seven Dwarf Mine Coaster at Walt Disney World and Shanghai Disneyland; Paris Dreams the nighttime spectacular at Paris Disneyland; Animation Magic for the Disney Cruise Ships; Once Upon A Time at Tokyo Disneyland; and many others.
I started writing seriously in the late 1990s with a monthly column in a local newspaper. Writing mostly on topics that were of concern to our community and often at odds with some. As with any new endeavor, I made my share of mistakes including the occasional typo, spelling error, or just pissing off the local politico. But this is how we learn a new craft—through trial and error. The important aspect is that I stuck with it continuing to hone and develop my voice by moving on to writing a weekly online column. The habit of doing anything reasonably well, especially writing, on a regular basis means that you will improve and get better at it over time, sometimes without even realizing it.
Then in 2010, a friend of mine suggested that I put a collection of stories about Roy E. Disney into a book. That simple comment resulted in my first book—Remembering Roy E. Disney: Memories and Photos of a Storied Life—and has since sent me down a marvelous new path, one that has been a natural extension of my thirty-two years at Disney. It has allowed me to combine my love of film and the animation art form with storytelling to bring an authentic insider’s viewpoint to my subsequent book projects and other writings.
Since then I have written more books, dozens of articles, essays, program notes, and CD liner notes—having unending fun doing it all. Some of that material is on this site for your reading enjoyment, including some unpublished articles and essays that you won’t find anywhere else.
In 2015, I enrolled in The Writer’s Program at UCLA and will graduate in 2018. Education and learning have been part of my entire adult life. I have attended classes at night in Los Angeles periodically over the last three decades touching on a variety of subjects. For the last twenty-five years, every summer I have taken one, sometimes two classes at a school in Maine. Each class has been an opportunity to learn something new regardless what it was—one summer I made a pair of full size oars, complete with stitched leather sleeves. When I’m in Maine, I write every day and have written some portion of each of my books there on the craggy coast where the cerulean blue heavens meet the sparkling emerald seas.
Writing is part of my life. When in town, I wake early, go for a brisk walk, and then sit down at my vintage Kem Weber desk and write early most mornings before my work day begins. I write on planes while traveling and in hotel rooms at my destinations. I write daily in a composition book, which is my journal no matter where I am on the planet. And when I’m done with my day, I enjoy reading in the evenings.
I still enjoy plenty of mischief and hijinks—laughter is good for the soul—and my wife tolerates my inquisitive boyish behavior, most of the time. We have two beautiful daughters, Sydney and Marlee, both of whom are talented in their own right. It is a joy to watch them grow into young women, reaching for new heights with their passion for living. Life continues to be wonderful!
David A. Bossert
Los Angeles, California