'Frozen II' features work of Oneonta High School alumna

Ricky Middlesworth © 2019 DisneyOneonta High School graduate Becky (Wilson) Bresee poses in this undated publicity photo provided by Disney Animation Studios. Bresee is an animator with Disney and was the head of animation for the movie 'Frozen II,' which was released in theaters Thursday.

The Thursday, Nov. 21, release of Disney Animation's movie "Frozen II" marked a special milestone for an Oneonta High School graduate. 

Becky (Wilson) Bresee, OHS class of 1989, was the head of animation for the film, her first time overseeing a full-length film. 

"I am nervously excited," Bresee told The Daily Star in a phone interview Thursday. "Part of it speaks to me very personally. I hold tight to it, because I love it so much, and I hope other people love it, too." 

Bresee said she has loved the Walt Disney Company since she was a child. Born in Miami — she moved to Oneonta when she was 10 — she said she spent a lot of time at Disney World when she was younger. 

"I had to be dragged out of the parks," she said. "I always loved the characters. I always loved the stories with Disney, in part because the stories were so full of hope." 

Bresee went to SUNY Geneseo for college, but she said she also took animation classes in the summertime at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, Canada. Three years after her 1993 college graduation, Bresee was hired by Disney, her dream job with her dream company. 

After about a decade doing animation for the company, her dream job got even better, she said, when she starting working on "Tangled," which was released in 2010. That film is a modern version of "Rapunzel," starring Mandy Moore as the woman with magic hair who has been locked in a tower. 

"'Tangled' is pretty special to me, as it was the first fairy tale I got to work on," Bresee said. "That is pretty much why I am doing this, the fairy tales." 

Not long after "Tangled" was released, Bresee started working as a supervising animator on "Frozen," which would be released in 2014 and win an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film. Bresee was in charge of animation for the character Anna, the princess played by Kristen Bell, who doesn't understand why her sister, Elsa, has been hidden from her. 

Bresee said because she has two daughters and a twin sister, the theme of sisterly rivalry and friendship was something that spoke to her.

She said she also uses animation of herself, her husband John — whose family owned Bresee's Department Store, which was an Oneonta mainstay for nearly 100 years — their daughters and even their pets, as models for her work. 

"I call them, 'my little truths,'" she said. "When you put these little truths into your stories, it really brings these characters to life."

Doing some modeling for Anna was a special experience for her, too, she said. 

"I got to be a princess on the big screen in a way," she said. 

"Frozen II" continues the story of Queen Elsa and Princess Anna. In the sequel, the sisters and their friends, "set out to find the origin of Elsa's powers in order to save their kingdom," according to the Internet Movie Database.

Bresee said she worked on "Frozen II" for about two-and-a-half years, and it was in production at Disney for about a year before it got to her department. She said it was great to return to the fictional kingdom of Arendelle and to revisit the sisters' story. 

"When you work with these characters, they become your friends," she said. "You miss them. So it is exciting to see the next stage of their story.

"This came out of wanting to tell more of the story of Anna and Elsa," she continued. "The story is more epic, and also more emotional."

Bresee said she hasn't read any reviews of "Frozen II," and she is looking forward to being surprised by the box office report from the first weekend. She has also been working on another of Disney's big releases, "Raya and the Last Dragon," which is scheduled to be released in November of 2020. She has other projects upcoming, too, but because they have not been announced, she said she can't talk about them. 

Becky and John live in the San Fernando Valley section of Los Angeles, not far from Disney's Burbank studio, but she said they visit Oneonta at least once a year, sometimes twice. She said she still has fond memories of the Oneonta schools, which started her on her path to success.

"I really enjoyed my time at Oneonta (schools)," she said. "There were a lot of teachers there who inspired me, in art, in music and in dance."  

Greg Klein. staff writer, can be reached at gklein@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7218.

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