4 animation directors for ‘The Croods: A New Age,’ ‘Over the Moon,’ ‘Shaun the Sheep: Farmageddon,’ ‘Soul’ reveal the films that shaped their lives [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

The animated stories that are brought to life by Joel Crawford (“The Croods: A New Age”), Glen Keane (“Over the Moon”), Will Becher (“A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon”) and Pete Docter (“Soul”) are made in ways that are gorgeous and all have aspects that will surely wow audiences. It wouldn’t be going too far to say that the images seen in these films could serve as an inspiration for some of their viewers to pursue a career in animated filmmaking. But that does raise the question of what animated pieces inspired these filmmakers to pursue their dream of working in the field? We asked the directors from DreamWorks, Netflix, Aardman and Pixar about the films that shaped their lives plus other topics during our recent “Meet the Experts” panel, which you can watch above. Click on each person’s name above to be taken to their individual interview.

For Crawford it was hybrid animated/live-action masterpiece, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” “Partly because it was a hybrid but it was all the characters that I loved watching and it was amazing that they were all in the same universe. It was just like, wow, this is amazing and all these characters are interacting,” Crawford says. The other part that he enjoyed was the experience of seeing it at a drive-in while sitting on the hood of his parents’ Datsun and being able to enjoy it with them while also appreciating the edgy humor. Becher cites Disney’s “Bambi” as the first time he remembers being moved at the movies and setting the bar for animation being a part of his cinematic upbringing. There was another one that he distinctly remembers. “Years later I watched Wallace and Gromit, ‘A Grand Day Out,’ as it aired on TV in the U.K. and I thought, I just love it; I don’t know what it is but I think it’s amazing.”

Docter also stuck with Disney in citing “Dumbo” but also loved the old Warner Bros. cartoons as well. During a later encounter with legendary Disney animator Ollie Johnston, he told Johnston how much he loved Bugs Bunny. Johnston replied, “Yeah, he’s funny but I don’t think I would have been able to make a living my whole career animating a character with not as much depth.” Docter was astounded by this. “It took me a while to figure out what he was talking about. You know the level to which those guys at Disney really thought through those characters is something we aspire to.” Keane remembers, as a five year old child, waking up early and turning on the TV to watch a “Popeye” cartoon and it was one where Popeye meets Sindbad the Sailor. He remembers seeing Popeye walking past these creatures and the background being sculpted out of clay and seeing the rocks turning in dimensions as he walked by. “It was so real. It was sculptural. I’ve never forgotten that. When I’m animating anything now, it’s in a dimensional world like that.”

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