From the Grid: Animator Pedram Goshtasbpour

I first talked to Toronto, Canada based Director Pedram Goshtasbpour in 2009, when his film E1even Roses stole the show and won the animation category at a mobile film festival I created in Barcelona, Spain.

Ped has worked on some incredible films and TV series from Final Fantasy to Inspector Gadget, a much-loved TV programme created in Canada that I grew up with in the UK and of course led to a successful Hollywood film as well.

In a new format for our blog, I interviewed Ped and asked him about his work, his passion and tips for people wanting to get a break in the industry.

Ped: “Wait! You want to interview me? I had assumed the opposite :)”

Ralph: Haha, we can come to that later! How would you describe yourself in one sentence?

Ped: In constant pursuit of progress through happiness. For work, I’m a director. For life, a writer.

Ralph: What films / TV shows have you worked on?

Ped: Inspector Gadget reboot is the latest. Before that, Doozers for Jim Hensons and Cartoon Network UK. Doozers is a spin off of 80s Fraggle Rock

Ralph: How did you get into directing animation?

Ped: I saw 2001 when I was seven years old. Then I saw Star Wars when 8 or 9. My teens were all about Monty Python and Italian neorealists such as Antonioni, which irrepressibly inspired me to write scripts when around 15 years old and shoot photographs of people. Then I realised going to film school usually results in being a cafe critic who’d work as a grip or something. So i opted for animation because its severe skill set would help me earn a living.

Ralph: How did you get your first break?

Ped: Anthony Lamolinara. Picked myself and six or seven other goofballs for a gig in Hawaii working on the first (and only) Final Fantasy feature film. I was 22 hot off a hot-brand college making $90k/year in Honolulu. Ten months later, Pascal Blaise in Montreal gave me my first shot as commercial director. His studio boutique still stands to this day.

Ralph: Wow, Final Fantasy?! What was your job? 

Ped: Animator on a beta software called Maya. Maya has since become industry standard. I also did some storyboards.

Ralph: Do you have to travel a lot for work?

Ped: I’ve just passed my tenth city! Travel was one of the reasons I chose a life in film and animation, but it can be hard on family life.

Ralph: Has the industry changed much from those early days?

Ped: Indeed it has! Classical animators, as Bill Kroyer once told me, are crazy. But this whole breed of digital animators who now rule the production floors are more like introverted gamers. There is no more pencil and paper — just digital. As a result, everything is delivered much faster because pretty much everything has already been done. Because of this, animation as a whacky art may well have shifted into mere polite craft. So not as much exploration and experimentation. But I’m speaking from an industry and direct commercial vantage points. What would Tex Avery or Chuck Jones think of the animation scene today, I wonder?

Ralph: Does that make it harder for someone to get their first break now or is it easier because you can sit in your bedroom, learn After Effects and get a job working for a company thousands of miles away?

Ped: Quality always travels. If you’re good and you give off a cool jovial vibe, and don’t take the universe personally, then you’ll always have someone watching out for you. …and yes to your thousand mile question. Our virtual age cheats time and space in ways that even Merlin would’ve been baffled.

Ralph: What tips would you give to aspiring animators?

Ped: Become a lawyer first!

Ralph: Have you met anyone famous who’s made a real impression on you?

Ped: I met Quentin Tarantino when his first film played at the Toronto Film Festival. He wasn’t famous but he was cool and brimming with crazy, wild ideas and whit. That’s an artist. That’s f****** awesome.

Ralph: So what’s next for you? 

Ped: Right now I’m excited to be working on some new ventures so watch this space. Busy times with many amazing people!

Ralph: It’s been great talking to you Ped. What are your three tips for success?

Ped: Three tips:

  1. Know yourself
  2. Love yourself. Be honest and love others
  3. There is no such thing as “failure” if you really give it your best.

You can find out more about Ped’s work from his website Vesta Pictures or follow him on Twitter here.

And finally….. here’s an animation sequence from the movie Jumper. Recognise the Colosseum in Rome?

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