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Haverford Alum Rises at Disney

Andrew Millstein ’84 worked on documentary films in New York before heading to Hollywood where he joined Disney in 1997 as a production executive. Recently, Millstein was named general manager for Walt Disney Animation Studios. We caught up with him with a few questions about his career path.

Haverford College: You've been head of production for the company that did visual effects for films such as Titanic and Apollo 13 and general manager of various Disney divisions that did digital effects and animation for 101 Dalmatians, Inspector Gadget and Brother Bear, among others. What was your path into the visual effects and animation end of the film industry?

Andrew Millstein: My path into visual effects was circuitous.  After Haverford I went to graduate school at the University of Southern California to pursue a degree in Visual Anthropology.  It was a masters program in Anthropology and Cinema.  After USC I worked on documentaries in NYC and then moved back to Los Angeles and worked for a small visual effects company that specialized in computer controlled camera systems.  From there I worked for James Cameron’s company Digital Domain and then on to Disney.  Sometimes the need to work leads you to places you don’t expect to go.

HC: What aspect of your work do you find the most fun?

AM: Creating and maintaining an environment where creativity and excellence can thrive.

HC: What do you find the most challenging?

AM: Creating and maintaining an environment where creativity and excellence can thrive.

HC: Do you have a favorite film from among those you've worked on?

AM: I have favorite aspects about all the films I’ve worked on; from Titanic to The Fifth Element to Armageddon to Brother Bear and Disney’s latest animated film, Bolt.  Each film has a unique set of creative and production issues that require unique solutions.

HC: Did you do any filmmaking or film studies while you were a student here at Haverford?

AM: No.  I did, however, study photography with [Audrey A. and John L. Dusseau Professor in the Humanities] Willie Williams.  This formed the basis of my visual vocabulary.

HC: Special effects in film are getting ever more spectacular. Feature-length animated films are finding wide audiences. Are these exciting times for your particular corner of the film industry?

AM: This facet of the industry couldn’t be more exciting.  The art, technology and craft expertise throughout the industry allow us to imagine and create fantastic worlds, character and stories.

HC: You came to campus last January to be part of a "Behind the Scenes" film making workshop and student film festival. What was that like for you?

AM: It was great to return to campus and to connect with students who want to explore careers in the arts.  The more the administration can do to expose students to working professionals in the arts the better.

Founders Green on a warm spring day.

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