This past week there was a Disney-China Animation “Exchange Program.” In it’s third year, the program allows animation filmmakers from Disney Studios and 14 participants from Chinese animation companies to exchange ideas and practices.
Started by John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation. When he was on a publicity tour in China for Big Hero 6, he was asked if Disney would open a studio in China. They animation companies wanted to learn Disney techniques. So Mr. Lasseter instituted this exchange program in conjunction with China’s Film Bureau to share ideas and assist Chinese animators.
Andrew Millsetin, President of Walt Disney Animation Studios said this about the program:
“Walt Disney Animation Studios is deeply honored to open our doors and share our learnings and best practices with China’s local creative industry. These exchanges have been inspiring to all of us involved. It’s an opportunity to exchange ideas and share our approaches to filmmaking, production, marketing, distribution and our underlying concept of how to create a healthy and vibrant studio.”
During this event the Chinese animation filmmakers got to take part in seminars with speakers like John Lasseter, Ed Catmull, President of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, Andrew Millstein, and several other top executives, writers, and producers for Disney and Pixar.
As part of the seminars John Lasseter presented a class on Innovation and Taking Risks. He offered these words of advice:
“Trust your instincts, your taste, and experience when making creative decisions. I look for three things in a great project, 1) a compelling, unpredictable story; 2) appealing and memorable characters; and 3) a unique world or setting.”
Zhigang Yang of Shanghai Pic-moment Film Corporation said this about the program:
“It’s exciting to closely observe Disney studios. It makes us ponder the gap between Chinese animation studios and Disney, the world’s leading animation studio. Not only in facilities and hardware, but also in ideas and creativity.”
Shujie Li, Founder of Chengdu L Square Culture Communication Co. also spoke about this opportunity:
“It’s great for Chinese and American filmmakers to exchange ideas face-to-face and to deepen our understanding and friendship with each other so we can carry out more exchanges and cooperation in the future.”
The General Manager of Fantawild Animation Inc., Linlin Shang is quoted as saying:
“We should learn from Disney how to tell a story. It’s essential for Chinese filmmakers to learn how to tell the China story well, so we can share it with the world.”
Bo Chen, Vice President of Shanghai Animation Film Studio, can’t wait to share what was learned.
“I’m eager to share my experience with my colleagues in China. I’m sure the cooperation between Sino-U.S. animation filmmakers will contribute to closer bonds between Chinese and American people.”
I think it’s a great idea and I’m glad to see Disney / Pixar working to assist and advise animation companies from another country. Hopefully, we will get to see a bit of the lessons they learned in action.
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