Aaron Blaise displayed an affinity and a talent for drawing animals and nature scenes as early as five. Born in Burlington, Vermont, he moved to Naples, Florida with his mother and stepfather at the age of eight. After high school, he trained in painting and drawing at the Ringling School of Art and Design, hoping to one day work for either Disney Studios or Hallmark cards. In 1988, he graduated and relocated to California after winning an animation internship at Disney. Following the internship, he was offered a position at Disney's brand new Florida Studio, and moved back home. He began as an assistant animator on Roller Coaster Rabbit and The Rescuers Down Under (both 1990), then graduated to being a character animator for Disney's wildly successful feature Beauty and the Beast (1991). He served as supervising animator on their mega-hits Aladdin (1992), The Lion King (1994) and Mulan (1998). Fascinated by Native American transformation myths and different bear legends from around the world, Blaise talked to then-division head Tom Schumacher about doing an animated movie featuring a bear. Schumacher liked his ideas and based on Blaise's quality work as a supervisor, he decided Blaise would make a good director.
They hired several writers to come up with the story and screenplay for Brother Bear, and set to work animating and casting the project to be done at Disney's Florida studio. The film would be their first fully home-grown product. Once the film had begun development, Blaise and his story department visited Alaska's Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes and Kodiak Island, detouring through Yellowstone National Park, The Grand Tetons and California's Sequoia National Park as part of their research.
Blaise and co-director Robert Walker made their feature film directing debut with Brother Bear (2003), featuring the voices of Hollywood stars such as Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Clarke Duncan, Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas. Blaise is also a talented painter and especially enjoys painting outdoor nature scenes. He and his wife Karen have two children.
Brother Bear (2003)