Interview with Alex Orrelle
Alex Orrelle, animator at Pixar's The Incredibles and Finding Nemo, and animation director at Warner Bros' Yogi Bear, talks to Zippyframes.com about animation, during his presence at Be there! Corfu Animation Festival.
Zippy Frames: Aspiring animators are looking forward to hearing a success story, especially from a person not born in US. What is yours, and what do you advice people to follow?
A.O.: Students need to hear that there is a future and a bright light and a way for the people to succeed, even though when you look immediately around you it looks difficult. And that is definitely my experience because I grew up in an environment when there was no animation.
I was born in London, but raised in Israe.since I was 3 years old. There was no way to either produce or even learn about animation. I was lucky to have the support of my parents to go and study animation at San Francisco; but at the same time, the difficulty of being and studying at San Francisco after 9 years was that I wanted to go home.
ZF: Do you think that animation can set an example for succeeding? Or is it a cliché to say that animation is patience?
A.O.: Not at all. For animation, you need what the Germans call Sitzfleisch, which literally means 'the flesh of your bottom'. You have to sit for many many hours, and have the determination and discipline to spend hours in order to become good at something.
A lot of talented people who don't have this ability end up being just talented, but not making something out of it. Hard work is the difference between talent and results.
ZF: But places may be limited, though. You've worked for Pixar in The Incredibles and Finding Nemo. What is the demographic there, and how hard is to get a position?
A.O. You need to have a portfolio. There are hundreds of people applying, and you need to go there and get an interview. However, there is no country limit or age limit. I've seen animators older than I am, yet there are also 20-year-kids.
ZF: There is a wealth of directors (Wes Anderson, Gore Verbinski, Patrice Leconte) who come from the live-action cinema and attempt animation. On the other hand, Brad Bird now directs live-action blockbusters. What do you think of this merging of live-action and animation?
A.O.:I think both directions of media are very important, if they're successful. And they teach all the filmmakers a lot about the other side of the filmmaking. It is difficult. You can't take a filmmaker and force him to change his/her techniques quickly. And there are techniques or processes that are only correct for animation or only correct for live-action. But directors are intelligent people who tend to see that. And when a director crosses the line, then everyone wins.