On September 11th, an outstanding animated film master, Robert Lence, visited our university. First, he met the Rector, Dmitry Endovitsky.
- “I am very excited to meet you. Everyone has a secret, and my secret is that I love animated films. I think this is true for many Russian people. Back in the Soviet times, watching cartoons and animated films made us believe in miracles. Today our own animated films have become more popular, and are even broadcast abroad. Wizart Animation studio was founded by VSU graduates, and we are really proud of it. We are now training future animation artists at the Wizart Animation School at the university. People in Europe and Asia watch films produced by Wizart Animation studio. They were the first Russian studio that made it to the Chinese market – the largest in the world. I hope that our collaboration will encourage our younger colleagues to keep on with what they are doing, and I really hope that you will like our city and will come here again” – said Dmitry Endovitsky.
– “I am happy to be here, in your university. The atmosphere here is really friendly, everyone is very welcoming. When you are working on a new film, you usually concentrate on small details, and forget about the whole world that will watch the film afterwards. But today you reminded me of that. I was quite impressed by the tour of the University. It is a real home for a new generation of professionals. I hope we will work together and we will definitely meet again” – said Robert Lence.
– “We were really surprised and excited by the fact that Robert Lence agreed to work with us. His opinion is very important to us; most of his films are older than ourselves. And we are glad that Robert Lence liked our work. His experience is priceless and his commentaries and recommendations help to improve the screenplay immensely. We hope that our audience will also notice this” – said Vladimir Nikolaev, executive producer of the Wizart Animation studio.
– “We hope that this collaboration will be fruitful not only for the studio, but for the School also. During our work the teachers get experience and knowledge that they can then pass on to their students. Working together with such a great animation master helps a lot” – said Alexey Bogatyrev, Director of the studio.
Robert Lence told us that everyone in the studio is dedicated to their job, which is not a common thing. He wished the studio further success and said that they deserve it. "Even the largest trees start from a tiny seed", – said Robert Lence at the end.
He also gave an open lecture telling of his love for cartoons when he was a child, which gave him his profession and determined his life, about the importance of hard work, about his parents and studies, and about the secrets of the animation artists working in such companies as Disney, Pixar, and Dream Works.
– “There is wonderful atmosphere in your university. People here make sure that every student reaches his goals, and that knowledge, experience and traditions are preserved by new generations. You need only one person, loving and supporting, to reach our dream. I was always interested in arts, and that is probably why I decided to make animated films. I was also lucky; I had great teachers who encouraged my interests. Animation is really exciting, and once you've started, you can't stop. All you need is the ability to dream. You can make any dream come true. All you need is to design a plan and follow it.”
Robert Lence has worked at the world leading animation studios. He worked at Walt Disney Animation Studio for 18 years, then at Pixar and Dream Works. He is the screenplay writer of "Beauty and the Beast" (1991), "Cats Don't Dance" (1997), and "A Bug's Life" (1998). He was the story supervisor of the "Toy Story" (1995), the storyboard artist of "Cats Don't Dance" (1997), "Valiant" (2005), "Bambi II" (2005), "Brother Bear 2" 2005, and "The Penguins of Madagascar" (2012). He was also the co-author of the "Toy Story" (1995); He is now lecturing on the history of animation at the California Institute of Arts and Universidad ORT Uruguay.
After the lecture Robert Lence answered the question.
– What is your favourite animated film?
– “Toy story I guess. This was the first film created using computer graphics, so it is a kind of revolution. And I like the team very much. They are high level professionals and they are all dedicated to their work. Working on this film was like a fairy tale, it was fantastic.”
– What do you do at Wizart Animation?
– “I am glad to be part of this studio. We've been collaborating online since January, and then the guys invited me here. We worked together on the screenplay, visual development. I am also a consultant to the studio, making some recommendations. It is a real pleasure to work with such talented and hard working young people. I am sure we will hear about them in the future.
– Do you think the stories are being written in a different way now?
– “Every story is like water. It is constantly flowing and changing. I am not sure if the first animators would have understood modern animated films. But that doesn't mean that the films have become worse, they just live up to the modern requirements. Today's audience wants a dynamic plot.”
– Are there any real events or situations in your screenplays?
– “You can't help it. All your life and experience are reflected in your work. Wherever I go, I always have a pen and a piece of paper with me, to sketch everything that seems interesting. But in the studio we work as a team, so your thoughts cease to be your own. Any team is like a single organism.”
– What Russian animated films do you like? Would you show any of them to your students?
– “Well definitely, the one that we are now working on in Wizart Animation, and both parts of the Snow Queen. I also love old Russian animated films.”
After the lecture and the questions Robert Lence gave autographs and pictures, and took photos with students.