Mario Ashkar’s friends often call him while they’re on vacation at a Disney theme park with questions about where to find hidden Mickeys, the representations of the famous mouse hidden in the parks’ designs of rides and attractions.
In fact, ask Ashkar anything about Disney — its stories, characters, history or animation techniques — and he’ll probably know the answer.
Example: What is the disease inflicted upon Merlin in “The Sword in the Stone”?
“Malignalitaloptereosis,” said Ashkar, matter-of-factly.
Ashkar’s loved the brand since he was a kid, and not just because of “the glitter and sparkle,” he said; his obsession has taught him a lot about film and animation.
It comes in handy as he works on his own filmmaking endeavors. Ashkar currently commutes to Pittsburgh every weekend to work on a children’s animation series, and a short film he made will soon be on display at Pittsburgh’s Space Upstairs gallery as a part of the Pillow Project dance and art program.
“In the animation series I’m doing, I hope to show kids that if they’re interested in something,” Ashkar said, “there’s something in there that they can do for the rest of their lives.”