Beason’s Brenda Chapman headed to Oscar Night
February 21, 2013. By Mike Fak, Talking to former Logan County resident Brenda Chapman is as easy as talking to an old friend. Engaging, with a laugh in her voice, Brenda is going through what she calls “an “amazing” time. Brenda is the writer and co-director of the animated film, “Brave” that has already won the Golden Globe award for best animated feature film and she now heads to Los Angeles to see if her movie wins the Oscar in the same category.
Brenda, Emma and Kevin at Los Angeles Film Festival
If you are from the area and don't know anything about “Brave”, it is assumed you just returned from a year long trek through the Tibetan Himalayas. But for those who need a little memory boost, “Brave” is an animated, 100 minute film that is different in many ways from other animated films. Set in Scotland rather than a fairy tale world, “Brave” is the story of a young Scottish princess who inadvertently, with the help of a witch of course, turns her mother into a bear. The young princess Merida and her mother, Queen Elinor, thus begin an adventure to turn mom back into who she was. The film is a life lesson on communication between a mother and daughter that has not been played in any other animated film till now.
Brenda says her daughter Emma was the inspiration for the story. She says Emma has always been a strong willed person since she was little. The story dwells on how two people, a mother and daughter, can be themselves but still share their love by always communicating with one another. According to film critic Roger Ebert, “Brave” has an uplifting message about improving communication between mothers and daughters.”
Brenda said she will be leaving for Los Angeles on Friday with 13 year old Emma to attend the Oscars ceremony. She said her husband, Kevin Lima, who himself is an animated director of such films as “Tarzan”, “101 Dalmatians” and “Enchanted”, said that the moment should be “a time for you two to share” and gave up his seat to his daughter so they could be together that night. Brenda said with a laugh “My husband sort of freaked out when he saw how grown up Emma looked in her Oscar night dress” Brenda is very proud of Emma and said Emma has already shown great talent with drawing, writing and especially singing. She noted in her website what a thrill it was to wake up Emma to tell her “Brave” had been nominated for an Oscar.
The road to the Oscars for Brenda had its beginnings in Central Illinois. Brenda is the daughter of Ruby Chapman Brown and Eugene Chapman coming to Beason with her parents when she was 2 years old. A graduate of Beason Grade School, Brenda said the small high school closed before she graduated from grammar school and thus she went to Lincoln Community High School. She said the first time she had the idea of where she should head her life was after watching the animated movie “Secret of Nihm” and saw the film credits at the end. “I said to myself, people made this movie”
Brenda went to California Institute of the Arts to study animation and received her BFA in character animation. Brenda said that when she went to CalArt there were only 6 females in the program but when she recently went back to speak, she found almost 60% of the students were now female.
Brenda's career credits show a very busy career. From starting out as a character designer and Lip Sync Checker to Storyboard Artist to Story Supervisor to eventually becoming the first female director of a feature length animated film on “Prince of Egypt” in 1998.
Her animated film credits include many household names including “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, “The Little Mermaid”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “The Lion King”, “Cars” and “Cars II” and “Toy Story 3” just to name a few.
Brenda said creative difference led her to leave Pixar but that hasn't slowed her down. An active speaker, she also is working on children’s' books and is working with Lucas Films on a project that is a secret for now.
When asked if there was a special project she had in her mind that she planned on doing someday, she said not especially but she knows the types of films she wants to be involved in.
“I really admire Frank Capra and his films. They have such great heart and for 2 hours you are sucked in emotionally to his movies.”
It is hoped that all of us in the area can be also sucked in emotionally Sunday night when we watch Brenda and Emma hear that “Brave” has won the Oscar.