Fairs & Festivals

Creativity animates animator

Don Hahn can get anyone’s creative juices flowing.

Hahn, an animation producer, was one of last week’s guests at the Sarasota Film Festival during its “In Conversation With ...” series. He was like a fountain of creative inspiration, with an underlying message of if your creativity doesn’t succeed, try again. And again. It will eventually lead to “the good stuff,” he said.

A lot of what he said still lingers in my mind. Like the phrase he chooses to live by: “Impression without expression = depression.”

Or how he believes everyone, no matter who they are, has an inner artist of some sort.

Or how he sometimes feels as if he — the successful producer behind “The Lion King” and “Beauty and the Beast” — is filled with self-doubt about his talents. But when Hahn discovered that the artists he’s worked with, like Elton John, Sting and Phil Collins, have experienced the same sort of self- doubt at times, he realized that it was a normal thing. That it’s part of the creative process.

“That just means you’re searching,” he said. “That just means you’re reaching.”

There’s also a book he mentioned that I’d like to get one day. It’s called “Dancing Corndogs in the Night” — about reawakening your creative spirit.

Hahn said the funny title came from countless times of sitting in his pajamas at the drive-in where he was inspired from — of all things — the cartoon commercial featuring the snack bar items dancing and singing: “Let’s go out to the lobby and get ourselves a snack.”

The book is coming out with a reprint soon.

Hahn’s latest projects include “Oceans,” a nature documentary that will be released in about a week. There’s also the Tim Burton film “Frankenweenie,” about a boy and his dog.

Hahn has stepped further outside of his animated world, directing a documentary on photographer Mike Carroll. In Romania in 1989 Carroll became engrossed with the hundreds of orphans, many abandoned and living in deplorable conditions. The documentary on Carroll, called “Hand Held,” will be out later this year.

“It’s how one man can change the world,” Hahn said.

Have you been inspired by a celebrity guest or film at the Sarasota Film Festival?

If so, e-mail me at jholmes@bradenton.com or leave a comment at heraldbuzzworthy. blogspot.com.