When it comes to being a creative powerhouse like Disney, ideas come as quickly as Ariel falls in love with Prince Eric. Sadly, they have a tendency to fade just as quickly. One idea from Disney Animation that we wish had come to fruition involved taking all of the Disney Princesses and putting them together under one roof.
In 2009, director Olivier Ciappa and illustrator David Kawena worked together with composer Alan Menken on a short for Disney/Pixar called "Princess Academy."
Though they had been working on the projects for months, the hand drawn studio of Disney Animation closed its doors, leaving the team with little options other than to shelf the short film. Personally, I wish they had kept going because the images they've released since are beautiful!
Part of the hope behind "Princess Academy" was that it would reinvigorate the idea of hand-drawn animation. Olivier Ciappa discussed the style of the project, saying:
We wanted to create a very artistic, classy, but also very funny hand-drawn short… I believe this image shows very well the mixture of artistic, high standard, and humor of the project.
This wouldn't have just been a place strictly for princesses, but for any of the Disney women who stood out in their films. Here we can see a number of characters ranging from The Golden Harp from Mickey and the Beanstalk to Violet from The Incredibles.
By modeling their drawings after some of history's greatest animators, the co-creators felt like they were honoring a form of art that isn't as respected as it once was.
Though there aren't many images of the physical academy, the artist wanted to make it look as ancient, regal, and princess-worthy as possible. David describes the building as, "A gigantic complex, with a feeling of an ancient palace with fountains, gardens, paintings and statues."
For example, while not a Disney Princess, Olivier and David added a huge statue of Hercules' Megara
This is a Roman/Greek inspired statue of Megara that was to be displayed at the Academy building in the short film.
Although it's pretty hard to spot, you can see the profiles of Princess Ariel and Belle in the back of this picture.
We also have a few looks at the interior of the Academy, mainly a ballroom scene including even some of the lesser-known Disney ladies like Princess Tiger Lily from Peter Pan or Madame Adelaide from The Aristocats. I'm guessing Madame Adelaide Bonfamille would be a music teacher who made sure everyone knew their scales and arpeggios.
The artists were able to mix these traditional and more modern animation style, while still maintaining their integrity. David said of their goal:
Even though it is only a storyboard frame, it was my goal to try and keep the characters on model and as recognizable as possible out of respect to their original designers and animators.
Olivier and David also released a couple of storyboard frames, that give a glimpse of some of the movement and attitudes of the characters. For instance, here's a few images showing an altercation between Tiana and Charlotte.
Now that I've seen this artwork, I'm just left wondering what kind of interactions they would have with one another. As far as I know, neither of the creators have spoken out much about what the storyline of the film would look like.
What kinds of classes would they have? Who would be the teacher's pet? I can only imagine that a building full of strong Disney women would lead to some interesting stories to say the least.