If you’re a fan of Disney movies—specifically the animated ones from the 20th century—then there’s an exciting new podcast to check out. Once Upon a Disney analyzes original Disney movies from a screenwriting perspective. Screenwriters Andie Redwine and Larry Brenner, both graduates of the Spalding University Master of Fine Arts Screenwriting program (where Larry also teaches), have decided to share their insightful and delightful discussions and their shared love of Disney with the world.
Full disclosure: I know Larry from my own time at Spalding, and met Andie (virtually of course) when they invited me to be a guest host on the show. Which means I’ve got the inside scoop on how this magic is made. And I must say, I had a blast geeking out.
I chatted with Andie and Larry and asked them some questions to help readers know what to expect when the first episode drops on April 7th (with new episodes coming out weekly). Here’s everything you need to know about the Once Upon a Disney podcast.
Once Upon a Disney Interview: Larry Brenner and Andie Redwine
GeekMom Nivi: To borrow from your podcast, why today? What makes this podcast relevant and perfect to bring out now?
Larry: When Andie was getting her MFA at Spalding University, she wrote an extended critical essay about the protagonist function in Disney movies. I was her Screenwriting mentor, and we spent a lot of time having conversations about Disney movies which continued even after she graduated. But now, with the advent of Disney Plus, suddenly we had access to the whole library all at once, including some movies that we had previously had some difficulty tracking down. Since we were having these conversations ANYWAY, it seemed a shame to not put ourselves on the record and not share them with other people. It feels like everyone is rediscovering all of the classics, and it’s the right time to really breakdown these movies and analyze them.
GeekMom: What’s the origin story? How did this podcast idea come about?
Andie: Because of Larry’s mentorship, I presented my research at the Northeast Popular Culture Association’s annual conference. Lots of different facets of Disneyana were discussed, but I was the only person there with a screenwriting focus. I’ve been on a number of podcasts in the past, and my professional background involves production. When Larry and I kicked around the idea, it made a lot of sense. There are a lot of Disney podcasts out there, and there are some great story analysis podcasts, but we couldn’t seem to find one that married the two.
GeekMom: There are plenty of Disney scholars out there, plenty of theorists and experts. What makes you different (dare I say better?)? What do you bring to the discussion?
Larry Brenner: Andie and I are both screenwriters, and we’re both passionate about Disney. I don’t always approach movies as a positive movie-goer, but I always WANT to love Disney movies. And I think that when we’re analyzing them, we’re capable of appreciating the magic of those movies as well as critically appreciate the flaws. We both want to really go into the story and live there for a while.
Andie: Disney seems to have this secret sauce for how to create the perfect family film. As Larry said, we’re both big Disney fans, but it’s always interesting to think about why and how a story works. We approach each film as screenwriters, not film critics. I think it’s fun to bring screenwriting theory to a Disney film and see if we can notice any patterns or shifts in the Disney canon. Also, Larry’s pretty animated – he enjoys wondering about what choice was made in the film’s development and what other possibilities existed. I enjoy considering the historic context of the film and how certain stories landed with audiences at the time, particularly because of my belief that a screenwriter/filmmaker needs to know their audience.
GeekMom: How did you come up with the structure for this podcast?
Larry: Andie came up with the basic outline. The Protagonist’s Problem section comes directly from her academic paper, which she has presented at the Northeast Popular Culture conference. I think I was the one who suggested out “How would we do the sequel” feature as a fun little parlor game that lets Andie and I flex our creative muscles a little bit. I really love what we came up with.
Andie: I took the outline from the way in which Larry and I worked together during my graduate studies at Spalding University’s MFA in writing program. There’s definitely a literary quality to these films, and each week, we try to highlight one literary aspect that might help a listener think about their own work and constructs.
GeekMom: What do you hope your listeners learn from your podcast?
Larry: I think, if you’re a screenwriter listening to this podcast, your big takeaway should be about the mechanics of these movies. The early films in particular are often messy and would never have been created that way today. But you can learn SO MUCH from the mess, and the experiments that happen in creating the movie. And if you’re a Disney fan, Andie and I want to connect you to the movie in another way, really appreciate all the little details, as well as listen to some of our crazy theories about why things happen the way they do!
Andie: Early on, we got some great feedback from a podcast coach who suggested we create a podcast for one ideal listener. It became really clear we were creating the podcast we wanted to hear – we were those ideal listeners! We’ve got a lot of friends in academia and also in the film industry, so we thought it would be fun to get their feedback on our conversation and just have a lot of fun doing the work.
GeekMom: Where can we find you? How often will the episodes come out?
Andie: Once Upon a Disney Podcast – found where you find your podcasts – Apple, Spotify, etc. Starting April 7, 2021 – episodes will come out weekly! Follow the podcast on Facebook, and @LarryBrenner6 and @AndieRedwine on Twitter.
So there you have it. If you’re ready to dig deep into Disney movies, looking at them from a screenwriting perspective, be sure to check out Once Upon a Disney.