Rob Coleman gave an interview for animationmagazine.eu. He is known for being the animation director on Star Wars prequel film series. He was also one of the episode directors on the animated television series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars. In 2011, he was animation director on Happy Feet Two. Currently he is working at Animal Logic on the animated feature, LEGO: The Piece of Resistance.
The two-time Oscar nominee (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace) and (Star Wars: Attack of the Clones) has also been nominated for BAFTAs for his work on Men in Black and Phantom Menace.
What does the animation mean for you?
I have always loved animation. Ever since I was very young I have admired the work done by Walt Disney Animation, Warner Brothers Cartoons and the National Film Board of Canada. Animated films are able to create worlds and characters that could not exist in live action. Audiences love to be swept away into those animated worlds where anything can happen. I also have a real love of films which combine live action with animation. There is cinematic magic when you have real people sharing the screen with animated characters. Films like Who Framed Roger Rabbit or Jurassic Park were amazing to me. I think that is why I was so attracted to working at Industrial Light and Magic on the Star Wars films.
From whom did you learn animation?
I studied animation at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. I was exceedingly lucky to have some very inspirational instructors including Joyce Borenstein, Hazel Ramage and Zlatko Grgić. We were encouraged to try all forms of animation including cut out, clay, hand drawn and puppet. After university, I learned computer animation which I have been working with ever since.
Do you have difficult moments as director of Happy Feet 2 and Star Wars animation?
I think every film project has its share of difficult moments. Usually they are related to the film’s schedule and the amount of animation that needs to be done in a finite amount of time. Smart planning and a strong animation crew will go a long way in helping reduce your stress. I think it is vital to have a great working relationship with the film’s director. Collaboration is the key to working through any difficult moments.
What it means to be director animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars?
Directing five episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars was great fun. Lucasfilm Animation had set up a new animation facility in Singapore in 2005. I was asked to help mentor and direct the first group of animators who were hired. The television series was done on a much faster schedule then the Star Wars feature films, which meant we were able to tell many more stories in a shorter amount of time, but it also meant that we needed to be really smart about how we approached the shows, in terms of talent and technology. I enjoyed that time because it was a great challenge.
What do you know about Romania?
I am embarrassed to say that I do not know very much about Romania. It was during the 1976 Olympics that I was introduced to the amazing Romanian, Nadia Comăneci. Who could possibly forget her perfect 10 score in gymnastics? I also know, from the Dracula story, that Transylvania is in Romania. So that is not much – sorry.
Did you see Romanian films?
I became aware of 4 luni, 3 săptămâni şi 2 zile when it won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007, but I was never able to see it. I am sure there are some wonderful Romania animated shorts that I should see. Maybe you could send me a list.
What would you like to do in life that you couldn’t do it because of lack of time, resources, etc..?
I have a dream to spend my time traveling the world going from one film festival to the next. When I have been able to go to festivals, like the Ottawa International Animation Festival, I have always found that I become really energised and inspired. I love being around other filmmakers and seeing films that are rarely shown outside of the festival circuit. I have always wanted to go to the Animafest Zagreb, the Annecy International Animation Festival, the Holland Animation Film Festival, and the Hiroshima International Animation Festival. My other dream is to have the time and resources to work on my own short films later in my career. We shall see, maybe my dreams will come true.
What is Rob Coleman doing when he doesn’t work?
I like to spend time with my wife and kids. In my spare time I like to draw, read, or watch movies.
What kind of animated films do you like?
I like any animated film that has an engaging story and interesting characters.
According to U.S. media reports, animated films are the most profitable investment in the film industry. What do you think?
What I would say is that animated films “can” be very profitable especially when they attract audiences that are both – young and old, male and female. A film becomes very profitable when audience members return to see the film multiple times at the movie theatre. According to boxofficemojo.com, the top 20 all time box office records are represented by films which have either relied heavily on visual effects or were animated features.
Could we say that this is the period of relatively new studios, such as and Illumination and others?
I am very happy that there are many studios producing animated features these days -variety is the spice of life. I think it is great that we have studios like Illumination Entertainment, Blue Sky Studios, Aardman, Laika and Animal Logic producing animated features along with the big studios: Pixar, Disney, Dreamworks and Sony Pictures Animation.
What about European “industry” animation film? We can say that for some time, animated Spanish and British films conquered the American public, I mean Chico & Rita.
I am really glad that companies like GKIDS are bringing international animated features to the North American market. Chico & Rita was Oscar nominated for Best Animated Feature, but unfortunately, even that accolade did not help the film attract big American audiences. I am hopeful that great films from Europe, and elsewhere, are able to continue to reach the huge American market. There are wonderful animated films out there that audiences should see.
What future projects do you have?
I am the Head of Animation at Animal Logic in Sydney, Australia. We are currently working on the animated feature, LEGO: The Piece of Resistance.
Will you also work as director of animation at the new Star Wars movie?
It was a thrill to be the animation director on the three Star Wars prequels – The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. To work closely with George Lucas on those films was beyond a dream come true. I left Lucasfilm back in 2007 after 14 years with ILM and Lucasfilm Animation. I look forward to hearing who they select to be the animation director on the new Star Wars film. It will be a daunting job, but it will come with huge rewards.
What do you know about the new Disney movie Star Wars?
I don’t know anything about Star Wars: Episode VII other than what I have read on the internet. I am really excited that Kathleen Kennedy is producing, J.J. Abrams is directing and Michael Arndt is writing – that is truly an incredible team! I know they will create an amazing film!
*Interviu realizat cu sprijinul lui George Michael Aleco-Sima