Letters of Note: How to Train an Animator, by Walt Disney

A letter written by Walt Disney in 1935 to Don Graham, tasking him with organizing art classes for the Disney animators. To put the timing in perspective, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released in 1937, and Pinocchio and Fantasia in 1940.

Disney was a business tycoon, but he understood his business was in storytelling and emotion. From the letter:

Comedy, to be appreciated, must have contact with the audience. This we all know, but sometimes forget. By contact, I mean that there must be a familiar, sub-conscious association. Somewhere, or at some time, the audience has felt, or met with, or seen, or dreamt, the situation pictured. A study of the best gags and audience reaction we have had, will prove that the action or situation is something based on an imaginative experience or a direct life connection. This is what I mean by contact with the audience. When the action or the business loses its contact, it becomes silly and meaningless to the audience.