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Brenda Chapman

About Brenda Chapman
Brenda Chapman earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the California Institute of the Arts and went on to start her story career at Walt Disney Feature Animation Studios. She worked as a story artist on a number of Disney’s most beloved animated films including THE LITTLE MERMAID, THE RESCUERS DOWN UNDER, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, and FANTASIA 2000. Chapman was the story supervisor on THE LION KING, which ultimately became the highest-grossing traditionally animated film of all time. Brenda won the Annie Award for Head of Story for her work on THE LION KING. After nearly eight years at Disney, Chapman left to help launch a new animation studio – DreamWorks Animation. At DreamWorks, she directed the 1998 release PRINCE OF EGYPT, which marked the first time a woman directed an animated feature film for a major Hollywood studio. Brenda Chapman joined Pixar Animation Studios in September 2003 as a senior story artist on CARS. She then stepped into the role of writer/director and created the feature film, BRAVE, with Pixar’s first-ever female protagonist – for which Chapman won an Academy Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA. Chapman is currently developing projects for DreamWorks Animation as well as working on a novel and a children’s book. Chapman resides in the Bay Area with her husband and their daughter.

Mentor Preferences
My expertise is in story, mainly feature animation – how to structure a story, and how to create smaller scenes within the story to support the theme and characters – to strengthen the “whole” of the film. I work both visually – through storyboarding – and through the written page.

Ideal Mentee: I’m looking for a mentee who is willing to listen and learn in how to refine their skills in creating a story for film – specifically in animation. I want someone who will discuss and ask questions – bringing themself to her/his ideas – but who is willing to be open to ideas of others. I expect an effort to be made to learn – I may give an assignment, or make a suggestion that requires some writing or drawing to be done. I will expect the mentee to at least make the effort to do the assignments to learn something. I expect the appropriate amount of time to be spent on each assignment so that each of our “sessions” can progress forward instead of treading water in the same spot. I would be happy to consider different levels of experience, I just need to see a spark of story talent in her/his work. I expect my mentee to be clear with their goals before we get started. My goal is to help them achieve theirs.

10-week plan: Start with a story idea provided by mentee – one already in progress or come up with a new one. Depending on level of knowledge of mentee, I will give an assignment to help move their story forward – through writing and/or drawing. Each assignment should get her/him closer to their goal for the story. At the end of the 10 weeks, the mentee should have a rough version of a visual beat board, or a rough treatment. IF the mentee has a story that is already in the above form(s), then I would help them refine it through each assignment or discussion. (Emphasis will be on “their” vision, not mine.)

Maximum Number of Mentees: 1

Maximum Distance: International

Language(s): English only

Preferred Meeting Times: Flexible

To apply to become Brenda’s mentee, click here.


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