VoS takes Disney and meets Jeff Miller

The clearest blue sky and the rolling, emerald Los Angeles hills made for the picture perfect Walt Disney Studios visit for the Villanova on Set crew Monday, March 5th. At Disney, VoS was met with a round of free ‘Moana’ bags, a feast of salad and California Pizza Kitchen pies, and Disney’s very own President of Operations, Mr. Jeff Miller. Miller was enthusiastic to host some of his Alma Maters’ students, though timely in his presentation as there was much to be said and done in a very limited amount of time. While the cohorts and I munched on our slices, Miller provided a robust run-down of how major studios evolve and how Disney – now a $56 billion company – got to become this way from humble beginnings. One of Miller’s greatest accomplishments has been taking part of Disney Character Voices International, which works to dub Disney films, including their songs, into about 45 different languages for worldwide distribution. Sometimes, as with ‘Moana,’ the international versions of the film are ready to be aired the same day as the original domestic product. We were given the chance to witness video clips of the ‘Moana’ song “How Far I’ll Go” in a range of different languages as well as view a scene from the film in a sound mixing room to better identify how the creation of sound is manipulated in the three-dimensional structure of a theater.

 

Before taking a tour of the studios, Miller outlined extensively the multitude of various facets the industry has to offer, breaking the particular careers down by process time: there is development, pre-production, physical production, post-production, and marketing/distribution. From there, we also learned Miller’s decided building blocks for success, which range from understanding your internal R.O.I. (return of investment) to achieving technical competence to remaining positive and humble; “Humility is the final achievement” – Frank Wells.

 

Other highlights of visiting Disney included an inside look at the set of the show “Code Black,” which looked like it had been literally transformed into a more-run down hospital, learning about the fiber optics and technology used to broadcast Disney products, and (the most fascinating of all in my opinion) being allowed in the infamous Disney Vault, upon getting in via Jeff Miller’s fingerprint scans and special keys. Though the room was rather brisk as the temperature and humidity environments must be controlled for to ensure the slowest degradation of the collection of the film.

 

My biggest take away from speaking with Miller is that no matter what you study, it will have some positive impact on whatever it is you end up doing. Miller took years of courses in German never knowing he’d end up using it in his later work, and now it has proven to come in handy with the development of his Character Voices International system. As has his knowledge of chemistry in relation to film creation and Accounting (what he got his Degree in at Villanova) in the business side of his career. Miller gave a bounty of inspiring quotes throughout his presentation, touching on concepts like the fact that most of the day is never planned, act like what you’re working on will succeed, make decisions and learn from them, and the notion that one’s career is a marathon not a sprint. This all equated to the perfect amount of inspiration to begin the week.