News 30.11.21

CREATING STORIES, MAKING CAREERS

As a continued celebration of Animal Logic‘s 30th anniversary, Australians in Film hosted a lively discussion with Animal Logic’s COO, Sharon Taylor, Director Wendy Rogers and Producers Julia Pistor and Amber Naismith. The four leaders are currently collaborating on the Netflix animated feature, The Magician’s Elephant.

The conversation with this dynamic group of VFX and Animation legends was inspirational and entertaining, a testament to their collaborative working relationships. They discussed their different approaches to filmmaking, what they love about their roles, the steps they took to get to where they are today and lessons learnt along the way, such as Director Wendy’s sage advice,

“I learned very early in my career, I wanted to enjoy the process of making the film. I didn’t want it to be about what was the box office result. I learnt early to enjoy every day, particularly in animated films, as you’re working on them for a long time and you need have the joy in the process every day, and need to bring that.”

Wendy Rogers, Director
T: Sharon Taylor and Director Wendy Rogers
B: Producers Julia Pistor and Amber Naismith

The panel thanked the collaborative nature of their teams, which allowed them to overcome challenges they faced while working remotely, as many in the industry have experienced over the past two years. Even though Wendy and Julia are based in LA, and all of Animal Logic’s Sydney crew are currently Working from Home, they were pleased to share that they have been able to maintain effective communication, passion and a steady and successful harmony since starting the project. In an industry where the only constant changes, teams have been able to utilise technology and experimentation to keep production on track.

“It keeps things refreshing and challenging, we are almost without exception, trying something new and stretching ourselves into an area of uncertainty, or unfamiliarity with every project. Because we go through this very extensive development process, with each film we’re constantly innovating our tech. It does keep every project new and exciting and feels like you’re launching into the unknown”

Producer, Amber Naismith said of the constant experimentation in VFX and Animation

Producer, Julia Pistor reflected on the collaborative and progressive outlook of The Magician’s Elephant from day one, It wasn’t a cookie-cutter (mould) of this is how we do things. From the very beginning it’s been like, What’s the movie we’re trying to make? How do we all work together to create both the look and the process that can achieve that look? It’s so handmade and so unique”

She goes on to say the recipe for the project’s success was due to:

“The compassion and heart. Everyone at Animal Logic is just open, and you can tell that you run a company that’s not at all driven by fear or fear of failure. That it’s just an open heart towards arts and collaboration.”

Julia Pistor, Producer

The list of achievements between these inspiring women is exceptional and their collective experience will be sure to make The Magician’s Elephant an exciting and uplifting film.

Director Wendy Rogers has a long and prestigious career in animated storytelling. As a leading Visual Effects Supervisor for over 25 years, Wendy has partnered with world-famous directors and actors to shape numerous Academy Award-nominated feature films in both live-action and animation. Past credits include Shrek, Flushed Away, Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, and Natural Born Killers. The Magician’s Elephant is Rogers’ directorial debut. Wendy is a member of the Academy, BAFTA and VES.

Julia Pistor has over twenty years of leadership and producing experience in family entertainment with a background that spans Films, TV, Digital, and Branded Content.  A curious and creative-driven producer and executive, Julia is continually inspired by the interconnected and ever-evolving ways we tell and share stories. As a film producer and executive, Julia spent over 12 years at Viacom building and running the award-winning family film division, Nickelodeon Movies. During this time, she identified and produced numerous highly successful animated and live-action franchise feature films including The SpongeBob movie, The Rugrats films, Nacho Libre, Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, The Spiderwick Chronicles and Jimmy Neutron. In charge of all strategic, creative and operational aspects of the unit, her films drove over 100M in added-value revenue to both Nickelodeon and Paramount. She is currently producing The Magician’s Elephant for Netflix Animation Studios.

Amber Naismith is an Animation Producer with over 20 years of experience in the VFX and animation industry. Her screen credits include Academy Award-winning Happy Feet, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, The BAFTA and AACTA award-winning The Lego Movie, and The Lego Batman Movie.  Amber has also produced the VFX for Charlotte Gray, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Ghost Ship, and the short LEGO Star Wars: The Padawan Menace.  Amber is currently the Animal Logic Producer on the Netflix animated feature, The Magician’s Elephant, where she is overseeing a team of 250 crew on Animal Logic’s first collaboration with the studio.

Sharon Taylor is the Chief Operating Officer of the Animal Logic Group, where she is responsible for the leadership and management of the production and operational activities across all three locations – Sydney, Vancouver and Los Angeles. Sharon joined Animal Logic in 2005 and progressed from various production accounting roles to eventually become the Head of Production Accounting in 2011. Her deep experience and insight into the fields of animation and VFX led her to fulfill the role of Group Head of Production in 2014. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, The Great Gatsby, The Avengers and The LEGO Movie franchise are just a few of the films that have benefitted from her strategic guidance.