Q&A: DreamWorks Animation’s Joe Aguilar

null“We are most excited about the emerging talent coming out of India, but there are a few factors that make us wary”

The times have always been exciting, it is just the geographies that change.

Be it as a market, as a production base or as a services base, Asia, especially India and China are the most exciting and dynamic locations in the world today. With the kind of growth happening out here, Global Giants announcing new facilities or India strategies is an everyday occurrence.

That said, given the nature and the adolescent phase of the animation Industry in India one can understand the high amount of anticipation and curiosity around gossip of DreamWorks Animation SKG’s India plans.

While in India recently for attending 24FPS and Anifest India 06, DreamWorks Animation SKG’s Executive Producer Joe Aguilar gave an exclusive interview to Animation ‘xpress Editor Anand Gurnani where he made things clear about DreamWorks Animation’s perspective on India….


There’s a buzz about DreamWorks Animation SKG setting up shop in India?

I’m glad you asked. I know a lot of people are making false assumptions.

We are still in the evaluation process and are looking at countries across Asia. We have not tied up with anybody in India, nor have we appointed any representative.

We had a positive overseas experience in Hong Kong where we worked on the Television series Father of the Pride. When we made the deal there, the studio was about 60-70 people and over 2 years we ramped up to 300 people. We helped to develop a training program, got in our creative supervisors and transformed them into a much better studio.

That experience gave us the reassurance that we could do the same process for producing our features.

We have looked at most places in Asia and have had some governments presenting incentives. But we are most excited about the emerging talent coming out of India. However there are a few factors that make us wary….

And they are….
In the last year we have heard that quite a few artists have jumped from studio to studio. The idea that these artists move around so often is very unsettling.

Doesn’t that happen in the west too? Isn’t churn a part of quite a few other creative industries too? For instance advertising….
To answer your first question, we have contracts in place with a majority of artists working at DreamWorks. Most of the contracts are for a stipulated time period while a few are on project basis.

nullAbout churn being high in other professions like advertising… in advertising these professionals join a company after having received a good amount of education and job experience, they usually also are hired under a contract. In the creative industries, artists typically don’t leave a project until it’s completed.

You have had a long career in Live Action and have also worked on animation and VFX? What according to you is the most striking feature about animation as a creative process?
I have been at DW for more than a decade now. As a producer my experience has been on Live Action Television shows as well as features.

What I love most about animation is that it is a collaborative medium where everyone contributes in some meaningful way. Everyday things evolve organically.

Live Action is driven by a single person’s vision, the crew is there to execute and support this vision.

Additional comments on Indian animation?
Well first of all, continue to do good work and hone your skills. But to the sizable numbers of artists that are coming out of the many training academies, I’d like to suggest that they also learn more about the fundamentals of animation. It’s not just about knowing how to use the software. To be really good you need to know the art of animation or at least have some Artistic background. I feel that much training is needed here before the higher level feature jobs come to India.