June 29, 1949
Rye, New York, United States
Animation director, Animator, Animation character designer, Animation story writer, Storyboard artist, Art director, Artist
Prolific international animation figure who toiled for 20 years in the field, working in the US, Canada, and Japan, before making his feature directing debut with a bona fide Disney blockbuster, "The Lion King" (1994). Allers has covered the cartoon bases, serving variously as an art director, storyboard artist, character designer, story man, animator, and animation director. He did animation for "Rock & Rule" (1983), a musical feature from the Toronto-based Nelvana Studios, and provided character design, preliminary animation and story development for the lavish Japanese-produced "Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland" (1992). For the latter project, he also spent two years in Tokyo as an animation director overseeing the Japanese artists. Allers started at Disney as a storyboard artist and eventually became head of story on the animated feature "Oliver & Company" (1988). He had a creative hand in each subsequent Disney animated feature--usually as a storyboard artist or head of the story team--up until taking the helm (with co-director Rob Minkoff) on "The Lion King."Allers was first drawn to the field after seeing Disney's "Peter Pan" (1953) at age five. He was moved to send away to Disneyland for a do-it-yourself animation kit but he gave up on that career goal in high school after Walt Disney died. Allers studied drawing and painting and earned a fine arts degree before spending two years traveling and living in Greece. In these classical surroundings, the young artist devoted himself to drawing, spent some time living in a cave, and met his future bride. They moved to Boston in 1973 where Allers had his love of cartoons rekindled by sitting in an animation class at Harvard. He made a 15-second animated short, assembled a portfolio of his college work, and found work with Lisberger Studios, headed by writer-producer-director Steven Lisberger ("Tron" 1982), animating TV commercials and segments for TV clients including "Sesame Street," "The Electric Company," and "Evening at Pops." Allers moved his family to LA with Lisberger Studios to work on "Animalympics" (1979), his feature debut. He co-created the characters, co-wrote the story, and served as an animator and art director on this pleasant spoof of the Olympics and its attendant media circus. Many other jobs followed before he found a home at the House that Mickey Built.Allers established himself at Disney as a top story development specialist who was respected for his wisdom and sensitivity. He is credited with "fixing" the story on "Beauty and the Beast" (1991). Allers was well paired with the irrepressible whiz kid animator Minkoff (best known for his work on the two Roger Rabbit shorts) on "The Lion King." Their joint feature directing debut promises to be one of Disney's biggest hits, both commercially and critically.