Scott Zone: Caretaker of Walt’s Family Film Legacy

by Mark Eades

 

Scott Zone, the official archivist of the Disney family home movies, stands in front of a bench from Griffith Park at Disneyland.
Scott Zone, the official archivist of the Disney family home movies, stands in front of a bench from Griffith Park at Disneyland.

If you’re a fan of the Walt Disney Family Museum and all the great videos featuring Walt Disney and his family on display there, then you have Scott Zone to thank for how great they look—and it all started in 1995.

At that time, Scott was working at Orion as a colorist in video post-production when he was recommended to the Disney family for a very special project. “Diane and Ron Miller wanted all of Walt Disney’s home movies transferred to video, color corrected and restored,” Scott said.

So Scott was engaged to make that dream a reality, involving many reels of film. He restored the quality and color as best he could, using the technology available at the time.  Walter Miller, Walt Disney’s grandson and co-founder of the museum, would come in each week to review the progress and view all the imagery.

When all the movies had been transferred Walt’s daughter, Diane Disney Miller, came in and sat with Scott to look at them, movies that featured her, her father and mother, her sister, and many other friends and family members.

Scott Zone, the conservator and archivist of the Disney family home movies, stands with Diane Disney Miller, the only natural daughter of Walt and Lillian Disney, outside the Walt Disney Family Museum while it was under construction. Photo used by permission from Miller family and Scott Zone.
Scott Zone, the conservator and archivist of the Disney family home movies, stands with Diane Disney Miller, the only natural daughter of Walt and Lillian Disney, outside the Walt Disney Family Museum while it was under construction. Photo used by permission from Miller family and Scott Zone.

“Diane started narrating them live. I wish I had had a recorder at the time. It was fascinating to hear her talking about what we were seeing on the monitor as if we were there,” said Scott. Scott transcribed much of the imagery and cataloged it for the family, and then he was done. The films were returned to a refrigerated vault in Hollywood.

Then a decision was made to produce a film using much of that footage in a 2001 documentary called, “Walt: The Man Behind the Myth,” directed by Jean-Pierre Isbouts, working with the family members. Scott became the liaison for the family with the filmmakers as they went through all the hours of footage for use in the film.

But Scott was soon going to be involved in much, much more when Diane tapped him to help out with the planned museum dedicated to telling her father’s story. In 2005, he got a call from Walter telling him about the concept. The initial thinking, Walter told him, was to use the home movies throughout. “Since technology had changed, I suggested re-transferring everything to HD (High Definition Video). So we redid the whole library.”

Scott Zone works on transcribing Walt Disney's home movies. Copyright by Scott Zone, used by permission.

Because of Scott’s intimate knowledge of the home movies, Walter invited him to participate in some of the concept and design discussions the family was having with other designers, some of whom were former Disney Imagineers such as Jeff Kurtti and Bruce Gordon.

After the museum opened, Scott was retained to make a more detailed transcript of what was contained in the footage. He went through each frame trying to identify the people visible or the location where it was shot. Many times he would work directly with Diane to come up with the information on footage that had been shot 60 years or more ago.

“I really enjoyed working with Diane. She was a wonderful lady and wanted people to know the true story about her dad,” Scott said. (Editor’s note: Diane passed away in November, 2013 at the age of 79.)

Even now, Scott is occasionally called on to put together some of the material for museum events. In 2011, the Disney grandchildren born during Walt’s lifetime participated in an event called, “Our Grandpa, Walt Disney.” For this project, Walter asked Scott to edit a video using the home movies that showed the grandkids with their famous grandfather.

One large roll of home movies of Walt Disney and family. Used by permission.
One large roll of home movies of Walt Disney and family. Used by permission.

Currently, Scott is working on a documentary about Walt Disney for PBS and also does speaking engagements for the museum. In addition, Scott works on projects for other clients as a colorist, archivist, author of Blu-Ray DVDs and more. Meanwhile, he is the steward of the legacy that is the home movies of one of the most creative people in United States history. “I want to make sure this important footage of this wonderful man is preserved forever.”

This profile is part of a series featuring former Disney Cast Members being written for the Disneyland Alumni Club. These stories reveal the role working for Disney has played over the years in shaping the lives of the people who help "make the dream a reality," as Walt would say.

In honor of the 60th anniversary year of Disneyland in 2015, the Disneyland Alumni Club is reaching out to former employees, whether retired or younger, who may not be aware of the organization. The Club was started in 1983 by Disneyland executives Van France and Dick Nunis as a way to help Cast Members stay in touch after moving on to other careers. Is that you? If so and you'd like to take part in the Club's private celebration next August—or participate in their many other activities and benefits, please visit www.disneylandalumni.org and join today.

Here are some previous stories about Disneyland Alumni:

Former Cast Member Remakes Heavenly Music

All Cast Members Have Stories

John Waite Loves Theme Parks

A Real Disneyland Character

This article and photographs are copyright 2014 by Mark Eades, all rights reserved. Used by permission. Photographs supplied by subjects are used by permission, all rights reserved.

Categories: Other Stories.