It was announced today that Academy Award® nominated producer Don Hahn (The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast ) will receive an honorary Doctor of Arts degree from Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Dodge College’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 20, where Hahn will deliver the keynote address..
Hahn’s latest film, Disney’s live-action feature Beauty and the Beast, which he executive produced, is already the top grossing film of 2017, collecting nearly $1 billion globally since its debut last month. Hahn also produced the 1991 animated Beauty and the Beast feature, which was the first animated film to receive an Oscar® nomination in the Best Picture category. Additionally, he produced Disney blockbusters The Lion King (1994) and Maleficent (2014) starring Angelina Jolie.
Hahn has a long-standing relationship with Chapman including serving as the Pankey Chair at Dodge College of Film and Media Arts in 2016. As part of the chair program, Hahn mentored 10 scholars through one-on-one meetings and interacted with student filmmakers and the larger Dodge College community during weekly dinners and Q&A sessions following screenings of his films.
“’The life of an artist is not defined by position, retirement, or promotions. It’s driven by a desire to tell stories and to have a personal impact on the world,’ Don Hahn told our students in one of his many visits to campus,” says Dodge College Dean Bob Bassett. “As a master storyteller whose work spans animation, live action and documentary filmmaking, Don has a great deal to say about what it takes to build a career as an artist—he will be an inspirational graduation speaker.”
In addition to producing Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, Hahn’s work highlights his interest in multiple genres including stop motion (The Nightmare Before Christmas), live action/visual effects (Haunted Mansion, Maleficent) and documentaries (Waking Sleeping Beauty, Oceans, High Ground).
Hahn began his career in film as assistant director to legendary producer/director Wolfgang Reitherman (Jungle Book). He was associate producer for the landmark hit Who Framed Roger Rabbit. His other credits include Hunchback of Notre Dame, Atlantis, Fantasia 2000 and Emperor’s New Groove.
Hahn’s love of documentary filmmaking led him to direct Waking Sleeping Beauty, and produce acclaimed films such as High Ground about soldiers returning from war in Afghanistan, and this last year’s Telluride Film Festival selection Tyrus about the 105-year-old Chinese American artist Tyrus Wong. He was a founder and executive producer of the acclaimed Disneynature Films (Earth, Oceans, African Cats and Chimpanzee).
As an author, Hahn’s books on animation, art and creativity include the bestseller Brain Storm, the acclaimed educational series Drawn To Life and Before Ever After: The Lost Lectures of Disney’s Animation Studio. Hahn also serves on the Advisory Board for the Walt Disney Family Museum, and is on the Board of Directors of PBS SoCal.