Last week, Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS) hosted some of China’s leading animation filmmakers for the 2017 Disney Animation Exchange. The five-day exchange program, now in its third year, brings together top talent from Disney and China’s animation industry to share ideas and practices. During their visit to the studio’s Burbank, California headquarters, a 14-member delegation, selected by the China Film Bureau, heard from WDAS leaders and creative teams about the studio’s unique approach to storytelling and creating animated features that resonate with audiences around the world.
“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,” said Andrew Millstein, president, Walt Disney Animation Studios.
“When we are making a film with Walt Disney’s name in front of it, that sets the bar very high for all of us,” remarked John Lasseter, chief creative officer, Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios and principal creative advisor, Walt Disney Imagineering.
Lasseter and Millstein were joined by Ed Catmull, president, Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios; Ann Le Cam, senior vice president of Production, Walt Disney Animation Studios; and Roy Conli, Academy Award®-winning producer (Big Hero 6); along with the artistic and technical teams behind WDAS’ global hits Zootopia and Moana.
Since 2015, nearly 50 of China’s leading animation and creative experts have attended the exchange program, which also includes an extensive ranges of events held in China. Among the program’s esteemed alumni are Tian Xiaopeng (director/producer, Monkey King), Bu Sifan (Mi’s Forest, Mr. Miao and the recently released animated film The Guardian) and Shang Linlin, general manager of Fantawild Animation, whose Boonie Bears franchise is now the No. 1 animation brand in China.
Bo Chen, a Chinese filmmaker who attended this year’s animation exchange shared his experience with Xinhua News Agency, “Our Chinese directors, filmmakers and creative talent learned a lot from this experience and got a good sense of Disney’s culture, as Disney animation executives gave us a comprehensive look into their production, management, creative process and even shared their future plans with us.”
Shujie Li, founder of Chengdu L Square Culture Communication Co. told the China Daily newspaper, “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.”