‘Kung Fu Panda’ Filmmaker Mark Osborne Calls for Honesty, Creative Freedom in Animation

Annie and César-winning and Oscar nominated animation specialist filmmaker Mark Osborne (“The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie,” “The Little Prince,” co-director on “Kung Fu Panda”) delivered an inspirational masterclass to a rapt crowd of animators and students at the International Film Festival of India, Goa on Tuesday.

Osborne began with a presentation on the process behind the 2015 film “The Little Prince,” based on Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s beloved 1943 novella, and then shared his views on how budding animators could approach their craft.

“Figure out what’s important to you, find out what’s meaningful to you and try to tap into it, because if it’s meaningful to you, and it’s honest, it’s going to be meaningful to an audience, you’re going to find your audience. And if you’re going to be honest, and not just tell a story that’s copying another story or trying to do something like someone else, it’s that honesty that creates fresh takes on things and fresh approaches,” Osborne said.

“I would like any animation industry to support the creation of great work. And it really is giving creators freedom of expression and freedom to explore their ideas, freedom to make mistakes, allowing the art to come organically, allow for the creative process, which is a messy process, and it’s a scary process for anyone on the outside who’s looking in. So, what I always like to do is try to ask for a safe space where the art can be created,” Osborne added.

Looking to the future, Osborne said, “I do think that creating content for a global audience is going to become more and more than norm. And I think that’s what Netflix did a really good job of is thinking about, how do we reach the world? That’s what we did with ‘Kung Fu Panda’.”

Later, speaking with Variety, Osborne said: “It’s become harder and harder for studios to support creative projects, they are looking for projects that are based on pre-existing IP and safer bets. But I believe in original content, because ‘Kung Fu Panda’ was original at one point, ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ was original at one point – sometimes these things turn into much bigger things, I have to start somewhere. So that’s how I feel about my projects now.”

Osborne is currently working with producer Jinko Gotoh (“Klaus”), who is also in Goa as a festival juror, on two animated features.

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