By Sarah Dean, Staff Contributor
Stetson was abuzz on Monday as the cast and crew of the independent film Walt Before Mickey arrived to shoot scenes on campus and around town.
Walt Before Mickey, the first feature film by budding director Khoa Le, tells the story of Walt Disney’s life before his breakout creation of Mickey Mouse and the release of Steamboat Willy.
Based on the book Walt before Mickey: Disney’s Early Years by Timothy Susanin, which details Disney’s early life and all the tribulations he had to overcome to begin his career, including someone else copywriting his original work.
The film is a period piece, taking place in the early 20th century and the 1920s, making the beautiful historical architecture at Stetson an ideal spot for filming. The crew began filming scenes around the Stetson campus including the outside of the CUB, the President’s house and the palm court back in December.
During filming on Monday, students could spot notable actors in costume for the film, like Thomas Ian Nicholas and Napoleon Dynamite’s Jon Heder, who is starring as Walt and Roy Disney respectively.
Monday’s scene was supposed to take place at a VA hospital, which the exterior of the CUB provided a perfect setting for.
“Many of the locations on campus have a great northern feel, and the palm court area is a fantastic setting for a scene that takes place in California,” said Francisco Boden, the film’s project manager and a Stetson alumnus.
Boden, who is working closely with the director and helped choose Stetson as a location, said he is very proud to be back.
This is not the first time Stetson University has been the location for a film. Stetson provided a filming location for Ghost Story (1981), the HBO miniseries From Earth to the Moon (1998), an Adam Sandler film, The Waterboy (1998) and the independent movie First of May (1999).
Boden said Stetson students have been indispensable to the production. Many worked on an intern level and spent all day on set working as production assistants.
Freshman PA Alissa Pagano said she loved the experience and learned from it. “It was absolutely amazing,” she said. “I had fun while also learning a lot about the process.”
“Stetson is a great fit for this project,” said Mary Anne Rogers, Stetson’s director of Public Relations. Rogers is also working directly with the film crew.
“The school has been incredibly supportive. This has been one of the better filming experiences we’ve had,” Boden said. “It is really great to help put this school on the map. It’s going to be wonderful to see Stetson listed in the credits.”
Walt Before Mickey is projected to be released in June 2014.