Meet the Team Behind DNEG Animation’s INSPIRE Series!

Creators of the series share motivations, fondest memories & hopes for the future!

Say hello to the wonderful DNEG Animation team behind our INSPIRE series!

After wrapping up another great year of INSPIRE events last month, we’re delighted to introduce you to the DNEG Animation masterminds who created the series!

Scroll to hear from Andrew Schlussel (Senior Director, Training & Development), Kara Oropallo (Vice President, Crew Development) & Adele Piveteau (Outreach Coordinator) on their motivation behind starting INSPIRE, their hopes for the series and more!


What inspired the INSPIRE series? Where did the idea for it come from?

Andrew: In animation and visual effects, we ask a lot from our artists. It’s hard work! Artists benefit from inspiration, to help fill them back up. And it’s not just artists, all of the departments benefit from learning more about the larger context of the field they’re in and connecting with the elite of the industry and other experts.

Kara: We all got into this line of work because we want to create. We want to tell stories, we want to make images, we want to shape characters. But, it’s still a job! And jobs can be hard and draining some days, even if you’re working on an adorable fuzzy Garfield or a badass shapeshifter like Nimona. With the INSPIRE series, we hope to help our artists reignite the fire to create. We want to encourage them to explore new realms of storytelling (both creatively and technologically), and we hope we help them remember why they wanted to pursue this career in the first place.

Beyond inspiring our teams, what kind of impact or influence do you hope these sessions will have on team members?

Andrew: It connects to the wider industry and shows our respect and interest for the creators and their work. Those creators also get to meet us and get a sense of the vibe at DNEG Animation, which might encourage them to want to work with us in the future.

Kara: It’s wonderful getting to know our fellow filmmakers and creators! It’s thrilling to meet the next up and coming animators and directors.

Adele: I hope they provide a greater motivation for our people to keep creating the best stories and remind them why they choose this creative path. Plus, all of our previous INSPIRE sessions are recorded and made available for new joiners, so they’re becoming a great resource for our crew!

How do you select the speakers who join us for INSPIRE?

Andrew: Directors, writers and other creators of the animated films of the moment make up a lot of our choices. We also respond to specific requests, like speakers about sound design and editorial. And we do events themed to shows, like a cat anatomy series inspired by Garfield.

Kara: Usually it’s from the genius minds of our DNEG Animation leadership (especially Andrew, Crosby Clyse (Head of Production) and Philippe Denis (Creative Director)). But we also rely heavily on the recommendations and connections of our artists!

Can you share any particularly memorable moments or insights that have emerged during these sessions?

Andrew: For me personally, I remember getting on a Zoom call with Henry Selick and having a fan-boy moment. There he was, someone who has been an inspiration to me, with many of his most famous puppets sitting on shelves behind him. One of the biggest learning events was when Bill Kinder, author of Making the Cut came to talk. We got each member of the editorial team a copy of his book which I also read in advance of the talk. It was fascinating and it went into great detail about the editorial process, from the person who headed it at Pixar. They reinvented the animated film making process, putting editorial at the centre from beginning to end.

Kara: Last year I got to moderate a talk with one of my mentors/best previous bosses – Jed Schlanger, the producer of The Sea Beast. That was such a treat!

In what ways do you believe the series contributes to the overall culture and creativity within the company?

Andrew: It shows respect for the art form and creators, while giving them the opportunity to see things from a different perspective. And take a break from their own projects!

Kara: I guess I answered this mostly with number one, but I just love working at a place that celebrates the art of filmmaking and not just allows but enables people to attend these sorts of talks during their paid work hours. For goodness sakes, what are we doing this all for if we can’t stop to celebrate the work of artists?

Adele: I think it’s important to stay connected with the industry and keep the passion for filmmaking alive for our crew! They might be facing challenges on their show and I see the series as a little bubble of air, a bubble of magic for them to remind themselves why they choose this career path and how special it is to be part of the storytelling family. It’s an artistic getaway and escape that I hope contributes to the motivation of our crew! It’s also a way for our people to learn about what happens behind the scenes and stay curious about new techniques. Our industry is always evolving and it’s important for our crew to stay curious, keep learning and expand their knowledge with creatives through Q&A, so I see this series as a great resource!




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