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Long Lost Disney Florida Studio Short Re-Enters Production


                                          Lady Clean-Up Mode Illustrated by Seung Kim 

Animation fans can frequently be heard opining that they miss traditional animation. Or rather- given that 2D animation is alive and well if you know where to look- they miss traditional animation from Disney. If you are one of those people you might like to hear the story of the lost Disney short that has reentered production in the 2020s.

Production on The Flower began in 1998 (right after Mulan) at Disney's legendary Florida studio. The film was to be animated 'on ones' (animated at 24 frames per second) in a Japanese woodblock print style, reflecting the film's setting. Production on the short continued until 2004 when Disney shuttered the Florida studio.


However, director Andrew Simmons had a good relationship with the higher-ups and was able to retain the rights so that the could complete the short as an independent film. Simmons is a long-time veteran of the Florida Studio who worked there from when it opened in 1989 until the day it shut its doors. He worked on a long line of Disney classics from The Little Mermaid and The Lion King to Brother Bear.

Simmons hand-picked a team of renowned feature artists, all of who worked on the short in off-hours (With Disney's support). They were deep into production when the Florida Studio was closed. The project laid dormant for years, until a few years ago when Simmons began compiling and scanning all the hand-drawn artwork onto his computer. In 2021 he teamed up with a producer and assembled a crew made up of both those who originally worked on the short and new, younger talents.

Illustrated by Bill Hodman

Twenty years later the film is finally nearing completion.

The film takes place in 15th Century Japan, and follows the journey of a flower as it intersects with the lives of several people bound together by a tragic fate. Simmons was inspired by Japanese art and film, particularly the work of Akira Kurosawa and Akira.

The producers are now turning to IndieGoGo to raise the funds to complete the film in time for its scheduled release in 2024. 

They have already completed all of the backgrounds, most of the character animation and put a lot of scenes in colour. They now seek finishing funds in order to complete hand-drawn effects, musical score and editing, and to submit the film to festivals around the world.

Illustrated by Tim Hodge 

All backers of $10 or above will get a digital download of the film on completion. However what is most enticing for lovers of traditional animation is the opportunity to get your hands on some original artwork. At the Lantern Pledge level ($76) you can get an authentic storyboard, and at the highest levels (up to $1000) you can get original character art from the making of the film.

The project is seeking $10,000 and runs until September 9, 2023, if you want to see it made a reality head on over to the campaign page now.

Additionally, the producers plan an art book and a documentary that will tell the story of the Florida Studio, with The Flower as the jumping-off point.

Update (September 17)

To mark the end of the campaign and to thank all those who contributed, director Andrew Simmons and producer Nicholas Zabaly have released a video which previews the opening scenes and introduces you to several of the team of animators from around the world. You can also read many other updates and stories from back in the Florida Studio days on the campaign page.