Disney vet reviews projects for animated slate

Digital Domain has tapped the first director for animated features of its new Florida studio.

Aaron Blaise, who shared directing credit on Disney’s “Brother Bear,” is already at work reviewing projects and is looking to fill out the company’s toon development slate.

“Over the next six to nine months, we’ll look at projects from the outside that Digital Domain is thinking of acquiring, and I’ll bring ideas of my own that we could develop,” Blaise said. “We’ll develop eight to 10 projects, and at the end of a year we’ll pick one to go into production, then in a year get another one rolling.”

DD has also hired Karen Dufilho, who has been a shorts producer for Pixar. Dufilho is scouting for projects and potential hires, including writers.

A 21-year Disney vet, Blaise was a supervising animator on “Aladdin,” “Mulan” and “The Lion King.” He worked at the Mouse’s Orlando animation studio and moved to Los Angeles when that shop was shuttered.

He had been slated to direct the Philip K. Dick adaptation “King of the Elves,” but the project was shelved in December. He left Disney and began at DD in March.

Florida gave DD a $20 million grant toward the creation of its Port St. Lucie studio.

John Textor, chairman of the studio’s parent, DD Holdings, said: “This hire is a perfect example of why the state of Florida gave us the money they did. He is a native Floridian returning home.”

Blaise expects the facility to open in time for the start of production on DD’s first toon feature.

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