John Musker is a 40 year veteran of the Walt Disney Animation Studio where he was an animator, writer, director, and producer.
John grew up in Chicago, Illinois as part of a large Irish Catholic family. He followed up his English Literature studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, with two years at CalArts as part of the new Character Animation Program in the mid-Seventies, where he learned not only from Disney and Chouinard veterans like Elmer Plummer, Bill Moore, and Ken O’Connor, but also his fellow classmates there, many who have gone on to direct distinguished films: folks like Brad Bird, Henry Selick, John Lasseter, Tim Burton, and Chris Buck. At Disney he was mentored by Eric Larson, the veteran animator and one of Disney’s fabled “Nine Old Men,” who brought Figaro the cat to life in Pinocchio, among many other characters in his distinguished career.
John became an animator on The Fox and the Hound (1981), and later joined Ron Clements to direct The Great Mouse Detective (1986) alongside Disney veterans Burny Mattinson and Dave Michener. Ron and John paired up to write and direct The Little Mermaid (1989) which John co-produced with Howard Ashman. Ron and John also wrote and directed a number of subsequent animated features including Aladdin (1992) Hercules (1997) Treasure Planet ( 2002) and The Princess and the Frog ( 2009.) John’s most recent project was Moana ( 2016) which he once again directed with Ron Clements, along with co-directors Don Hall and Chris Williams.
John retired from Disney Feature Animation in the spring of 2018, and in spring of 2023 completed animating by hand his own short film, “I’m Hip” which was selected to be screened at Annecy in summer 2023, one of 36 films picked from more than 3200 submissions. It has also begun a round of screenings at festivals around the world including the Animasyros festival in Greece in late September 2023, the BIAF festival in Seoul, Korea, and the upcoming Sparks Festival in Vancouver.
John resides in La Cañada, California, with his wife Gale, a former researcher at Disney, not far from two of his grown children: son Jackson and daughter Julia and her husband Michael. Son Patrick and wife Andrea and their three daughters now live on Columbus, Ohio. John loves to visit his granddaughters Lucy(6), Gwen (4) and Marigold (2) in his role as “Boompah,” and delights when they come to visit him and Gale in California.