Doug Bello is a graduate of our classic Character Animation Program. And to say that he’s been a little busy after graduating in 2008 — director, major advertising award winner — would be a bit of an understatement. Doug returns to Animation Mentor to share his story and the insights on the animation industry in Brazil.
Big woot to Doug.
— The Animation Mentor Crew
From Animation Mentor to a studio in Brazil to winning two major awards. How do you even tell that story?
Doug: I’m here trying to find an answer that could not be a cliché, but that’s really the way I believe. Things just work out when you love what you do.
It’s amazing when you realize that you just came home after a 12-hour work day and you sit in front of the computer to animate a bit more for your short or personal project — and you never feel like you are actually “working.”
Due to the high-level standards I learned at Animation Mentor (and what people expect from Animation Mentor students) — when I was in class 4 (Advanced Acting), I was invited to go to Germany to work on a Red Bull project, even though I hadn’t finished class 4. At the end of the course, I was invited to participate in the IPAX Sony Pictures Imageworks Program. It was an amazing time.
I gained a lot of confidence and I went to talk to one of the directors I had most admired here in Brazil — and he hired me right away as an animator.
After some time working as an animator, I was given the opportunity to direct some movies. Then I did this stop-motion advertisement to drive people to “Follow” — Is the New — and it received a lot of awards, including two Cannes Lions, a Clio, and the Sol de Oro from the Festival Iberoamericano de la Publicidad (FIAP).
How did you get involved in directing? Can you speak to the transition of animating the work to directing the work?
Doug: Even before Animation Mentor, I was flirting with direction. I did a short movie in 2004 while I was enrolled in a Masters program in lighting design in Germany. We were 3 people and we did a 20-minute stop-motion movie insanely. We didn’t know anything about animation or anything else and the animation turned out horrible 🙂 — but the short won the first prize at Anima Mundi 2004. So I got really excited and started to study animation for real.
But professionally, I have to thank the opportunity the owner of the studio gave me here. I was animating a one-minute stop-motion advertisement for Santander at the company AD Studio and he offered me the chance to codirect the movie with him. I was really excited and I felt that this was my ticket to directing, so I jumped in with all my strength. The job turned out very nice and everybody was happy!
How do you feel that your Animation Mentor training has prepared you along the way?
The job of a director is to decide about every little thing in the movie and bring the world that is in your mind to the screen. So anything that you learn in your life helps you with that.
During my time at Animation Mentor, I was presented to a giant number of studies that were fundamental for my knowledge, but I think the most important thing I learned at Animation Mentor was to see. I think every animator needs to develop a really good eye for silhouette, staging, and acting! Really!
Only animators live in a frame-by-frame world, and I believe this gives you a very good advantage in directing. Steven Spielberg said this once: “I think all directors should be animators first.” And I agree totally with him! Of course.
Did you ever consider advertising? Is the industry how you pictured it to be? Are there any particular challenges you find in advertising that you did not see in traditional film-based animation?
During my Animation Mentor studies, I always dreamed of working in the film industry, but unfortunately I never had a chance to work professionally in a traditional animated film.
In Brazil, there is almost no feature animation industry. It’s too expensive to produce anything. So the advertising industry is the natural way around here.
But I never had a problem with that. As long as I was animating, even it wasn’t character animation, I was happy. Advertising is not as “glorious” as working in features but it has its charm and its inspiring challenges. Of course, after all, a bad client can try to ruin all your work, hahahah — but then you have to be creative enough to convince them wrong.
One thing you learn in advertising, at least here in Brazil, is to be fast. You have sometimes 2 to 3 days to finish a 30-second animation, and it has to be GOOD.
In advertising, you have 30 seconds to tell the whole story, you don’t have much time to introduce your character or anything else — so the staging, appeal, and silhouettes have to work in a frame.
You also need to create a different appeal, because normally no one wants to see your “movie”… it’s an ad. Normal people don’t turn on a TV or a computer to see an ad.
Best advice you can give to the Animation Mentor community?
Be creative! In everything you do, even the most basic assignment or work, always try as hard as you can to stay far from cliché or to make anything just to get it done.
Imagine 100 ways to do it before you start. Remember your creative planning!
Ready to join Doug in the Animation Mentor community? Get more information about our online animation courses.
Want more of Doug’s work? Check out Doug Bello’s website.