EXCLUSIVE: Before he created Mickey Mouse, Walt Disney was an animator and businessman who spent a decade shrugging off failure in order to build the studio that would turn him into an icon. The indie period drama Walt Before Mickey chronicles nine years worth of these early struggles, with American Pie‘s Thomas Ian Nicholas playing the young and ambitious Disney and Napoleon Dynamite‘s Jon Heder as his brother Roy. Check out the trailer exclusively on Deadline.

Disney fans got a peek at the 1960s-era Walt in last year’s Saving Mr. Banks, but Walt Before Mickey offers up the pre-Depression Era “missing decade” during which he launched four studios and moved from Missouri to California, with varying degrees of success. Jodie Sweetin (Full House) and David Henrie (Wizards Of Waverly Place) also star for first-time feature helmer Khoa Le, who directs a script by Arthur L. Bernstein and Armando Gutierrez.

Pic is based on the 2011 nonfiction tome Walt Before Mickey: Disney’s Early Years, 1919-1928 by Timothy S. Susanin with a foreword by Diane Disney Miller. The film from Conglomerate Media, Jeff Rice Films, Bon Aire Productions and Kvibe Productions is executive produced by Gutierrez, Jeff Rice, and Arthur Bernstein. Filmmakers have yet to lock distribution, but I hear a deal is near and a potential fall release being eyed.