As Dreamers Do (2014)

Though it had its premier in a local theatre, this independently produced biopic of Walt Disney’s early life is neither a theatrical release nor a Made-for-TV movie. Instead it is primarily available online, where As Dreamers Do will likely cause unsuspecting viewers to enter sleep mode long before their computer gets a chance to.

 

Made on a shoe-string budget by first timers both in front of and behind the camera, the film’s amateur production values are betrayed at every turn. The script belabours each point, forcing characters to repeatedly state that Walt is a dreamer. Comic interludes are only recognisable as such by the jovial soundtrack that accompanies them rather than any laughs they seek to provoke. Youtube identity Olan Rogers is enthusiastically adequate in the title role, while the younger members of the cast sound like they’re reading directly from a script that is devoid of any punctuation.

 

Though the movie’s short running time is almost two-thirds complete before Disney starts animating, the depiction of his Laugh-O-Gram studios is the only bright spot in an otherwise dull affair. Among the legendary animators depicted from this era are Ub Iwerks, Fred Harman and Rudy Ising. Fred’s brother Hugh would go on to partner Rudy to form the serendipitously named Harman-Ising Studios.

 

Not all pairings resulted in such catchy names. Providing the movie’s only genuine laugh, Walt explains to Ub that Disney-Iwerks makes them sound like they’re optometrists.

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walt disney, olan rogers, roy disney, ub iwerks, rudy ising
Olan Rogers
Olan Rogers

as Walt Disney

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Ryan Dunlap
Ryan Dunlap

as Roy Disney

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William Haynes
William Haynes

as Ub Iwerks

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Isaiah Stratton
Isaiah Stratton

as Fred Harman

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Though the movie opens with the Disney family’s arrival at Marceline, only two of Walt’s siblings are present, Ruth and Roy. Walt’s other two elder brothers, Herbert and Ray, are not depicted in the film at all.

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Biopic features actual footage from one of Disney’s Laugh-O-Grams, and recreates a few snippets from Alice’s Wonderland. 

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