Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Inspiring John Lasseter Interview

By this time I would hope that all - or at least most - of you have seen Pixar's "Up" which came out a few weeks ago. I'm planning on going to see it again in 2D and posting a review after, but suffice it to say I absolutely loved it and recommend it to all - whether you like animated films or not.

I came across this interview with John Lasseter on Total Film the other day and found it really inspiring. It may look intimidating at 13 web (thereby actually short) pages, but he's got some great things to say. He speaks to both "Up" specifically, as well as his views on animation studios and animation in general. There's a lot of interesting history of 3D animation, and the Bay Area's role in it, which warms my heart being a 3rd generation Bay Area girl (very rare in these parts). What I found the most inspiring, though, was his personal history, as told in his own words.

As someone who's had the beginning of what could have been a pretty good career in the web industry, and then leaving that to go back to school in a completely unrelated field, his story gave me hope. He went from "Your project is incomplete and your employment with the Disney Animation Studios is now terminated," to now running that studio, along with Pixar. Now that's a good turnaround!

One of the recurring things I've heard about the big names in animation is that persistance and hard work are the keys to success. Victor Navone, one of the lead (and most appraised) animators at Pixar told us in a talk in March that he had to apply to Pixar 6 times before he got hired. In Lasseter's interview, he says that Andrew Stanton (director of "Wall-E" and "Finding Nemo") applied and got turned down from Disney 4 times.

We can't all have Lasseter's success, but it certainly gives me hope that maybe someday I can look back on this time and think, silly me, how could I have doubted I'd end up finding someone to pay me to animate? Because I'd hate to think I spent so much time and energy on this, only to fall back into something I don't love. And at this point, when I have no current employer and no income, that's an easy trap to get caught in. But then the past 2 1/2 years really would have been a waste, and signify a trampled dream. I just have to keep reminding myself to be persistent and keep working hard, and enjoy the journey.

There were a number of comments that resonated with me throughout the interview, like this one:
...there’s no software solution for entertainment; it comes from people, from the artists who use it....I remember one guy, who worked with a computer graphics company, coming up to me after a screening to ask what software I used to get the humour in!
I think some people really think it is that easy! But I love this comment at the end, about Lasster's Hawaiian shirts*:
I always say that it’s the little kid in me, you know? Animators tend to be kids who’ve never grown up. A Hawaiian shirt is like a toy that you can wear. And I do love toys…
And at this time I'm yelling at the screen: "That's me! That's me! Have you seen our house?!" One day, I hope I can say it really is.

Go read the interview. I'd love to hear what inspiration you glean from it.

*Note: If you're not already aware, Andrew loves to wear Hawaiian shirts, and I've taken to making some for him throughout the years. So Hawaiian shirts hold a special place in our hearts too.


Anonymous said...

For most of this post I had John Lasseter confused with John Laroquette and I kept thinking, "Holy crap, the dude from Night Court's doing animation?"

Anonymous said...

oops - thats from skim. too lazy to log in.


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