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Chuck Williams was threatened by a grizzly bear. Several, in fact. The producer from Disney's Florida Feature Animation studio led a team of key artists to remote locales in the Pacific Northwest in order to research their latest animated fantasy, Brother Bear. "We have some harrowing stories from when we were up there," Williams says. "We saw some 800-pound grizzlies five to six feet in front of us, out in the wild.

"I worked with a bear consultant, Timothy Treadwell [author of Among Grizzlies: Living With Wild Bears in Alaska], who spent six months alone in the Alaskan wilderness with bears, getting close to them and studying their habitat, behavior and habits. He came in and spoke to us, and also shot a lot of footage for us."


As for the Disney team's experience, Williams says, "When we went to Geographic Harbor [in Alaska], there weren't any bears. We waited around in our wading boots, with our feet dangling in the water, and suddenly, around this corner, came this 800-pound male bear doing its cowboy walk to show us that he's big and powerful. He put on this display for about 20 minutes, ripping these salmon apart. He got really close.

"There was another time when I surprised a mother and her cubs while hiking up a mountain. That was scary. When you really get out there [in the wild], you see how primitive and raw everything is. We tried to put all of that into the film.

"Brother Bear is about Kenai, a boy who changes into a bear, and the cub he meets along the way, Koda, and how Kenai changes his life," Williams says. "We felt that telling an intimate tale on an epic scale and stage would make it resonate with audiences more. Going up to Alaska, Wyoming and California certainly did that for us.
A fish-out-of-water story, Brother Bear is the first animated film created entirely at Disney's Florida Feature Animation studio.