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Roger Ross Williams Life, Animated InterviewLIFE, ANIMATED

h3RogerRossWilliamsLifeAnimatedInterviewh3pstrongCaststrongJonathanFreemanGilbertGottfriedOwenSuskinbrstrongDirectorstrongRogerRossWilliamsbrstrongGenrestrongDocumentaryAnimationFamilybrstrongRatedstrongPGbrstrongRunningTimestrong92minutesbrbrstrongSynopsisstrongOwenSuskindisanautisticyoungmanwhocouldnotspeakforyearsasachildandyetslowlyemergedfromhisisolationbyimmersinghimselfinDisneyanimatedmovies.ThesubjectofhisfatherRonSuskindrsquosNewYorkTimesbestsellerOwenusedthesefilmsasaroadmaptoreconnectwithhislovingfamilyandthewiderworld.LifeAnimatedisanemotionalcomingofagestorythatshowsthenextstageofOwenrsquosjourneyashetakeshisfirststepstowardsindependence.brbrstrongLifeAnimatedstrongbrstrongReleaseDatestrongSeptember29th2016brbrstrongDirectorrsquosStatementstrongbrbrMyfilmshavealwaysbeenaboutchampioningtheoutsiderndashthisiswhatmakesfilmmakingsuchanexcitingadventure.WithLifeAnimatedIwantedtotellanincrediblestorybutIalsowantedtocreateaspacethatwouldofferinsightintoOwenSuskindandotherpeoplelivingwithautism.Owenisauniquepersonformanyreasonschiefamongthemarehisemotionalopennessandscrupuloushonesty.Hisvisionoftheworldisextraordinarybecauseheisunencumberedbymanyoftheworldrsquossocialcueswhosemainpurposeistorestrictbehaviorandcurbspontaneity.Andthatsveryrefreshingtome.WhatOwenhasdonebylivinghislifeimmersedinmythsandfablesisfindawaytodissecttheworldandinsodoinghehascometoanincrediblywiseandrichunderstandingofthehumancondition.WhatOwendrawsfromtheseclassicstoriesisanunderstandingoftheworldthatisasdeepandcomplexasitisinspirationalandinstructive.ItwasimportanttometogetinsideOwensheadandtellhisstoryfromhispointofview.Toooftentheworldlooksaskanceatpeoplewhoareoutsideofsocietysmainstreamthisfilmisaboutlookingatoneoftheseoutsidersingreatdetailbutfromtheinsidelookingoutattheworld.brbrTheprocessofmakingLifeAnimatedexpandedmyvocabularyasafilmmakertranslatingOwensuniquewayofseeingtheworldintopicturesandsoundthathelpusbetterunderstandatrulyextraordinaryindividual.brmdashRogerRossWilliamsbrbrbrph3imgstylefloatrightmargin5px15pxsrchttpwww.girl.com.auimglifeanimated2.jpgheight233width350InterviewwithRogerRossWilliamsh3pstrongQuestionstrongWhatkindofsubjectsareyoudrawntoasafilmmakerbrbrstrongRogerRossWilliamsstrongImdefinitelydrawntostoriesaboutoutsiders.FeelinglikethatmyselfmdashImagayblackmanmdashIoftenseektogiveavoicetothoseintheworldwhodonthaveone.Ialsostrivetofindwayswecanlivetogetherandunderstandeachother.LikeOwenSuskindthesubjectofLifeAnimatedIfeltdisconnectedasakidandsatimmersedinmyownfantasiescreatingstoriesinmyownheadmdashIhadtofindawaytoconnectwithagreaterworldlikehedidandlikethesubjectsofallofmyfilmshavehadtodoinonewayoranother.brbrbrstrongQuestionstrongHowdidthisprojectoriginatebrbrstrongRogerRossWilliamsstrongIrsquoveknownRonSuskindforover15yearsduringwhichheandIworkedonmanystoriestogetherforABCandPBS.RonisaPulitzerPrizewinningwriterandtheauthorofabookabouthissonOwenentitledLifeAnimatedAStoryofSidekicksHeroesandAutism.RonhadtoldmeaboutthebookwhilehewasworkingonitandIimmediatelyknewitwouldmakeagreatfilmsomyproducerJulieGoldmanandIoptionedthedocumentaryrightsandbroughtittoMollyThompsonatAampEIndieFilms.Thatwasaroundtwoyearsago.brbrbrstrongQuestionstrongWhatwasyourownknowledgeofautismbeforeyoustartedthisprojectbrbrstrongRogerRossWilliamsstrongIhadverylittleawarenessandunderstandingofautismgoingintothis.IhavetoadmitIwasalittleafraidofpeoplewithautismmdashIwasuncomfortableanddidntknowhowtointeractorconnect.ButmakingthisfilmtotallychangedthewayIthinkaboutautism.IdontseeitasadeficitordisabilityanymoreIseeitasadifference.Itiscleartomenowthatbyignoringthisremarkablegroupofpeoplewejustarenrsquottappingintoourtruefullhumanpotentialandwearelosingoutasasocietyifweleavethembehind.brbrbrstrongimgstylefloatleftmargin5px15pxsrchttpwww.girl.com.auimglifeanimated3.jpgheight197width350QuestionstrongWhatwereyourthoughtsonOwenbeforeyoustartedthisfilmknowinghimalreadyasyoudidWhowasheinyourmindbrbrstrongRogerRossWilliamsstrongIinitiallymetOwenwhenhewasveryyoungbutonlybriefly.IalreadyknewthattheSuskindswerearemarkablefamilybutIdidntknowwhattoexpectgoingintothisproject.Icameinwithmyownfeelingsofbeinguncomfortablebutthatsoonchanged.ThegreatthingaboutmakingdocumentariesisthatyouhavetheluxuryoftimeandIgottoknowOwenovertime.Myperceptionschangedgreatly.Imadreamermyselfaswellasastoryteller.AndnoonelovesthetransformativepotentialofstorymorethanOwenSuskind.Heunderstandsthebeautyofastoryorfableinawaythatwasveryinspiringforafilmmaker.brbrbrstrongQuestionstrongHowlongdidyouspendwiththeSuskindsonthisprojectbrbrstrongRogerRossWilliamsstrongAbouttwoyearsfromtheinceptionoftheprojecttocompletion.brbrbrstrongQuestionstrongWasthefilmalwaysaboutOwenbecominganindependentadultbrbrstrongRogerRossWilliamsstrongNowhenIstartedtheprojectIwasgoingonthestrengthofRonsbook.ItriedtostructurethefilmaroundhisstorybutmyeditorDavidTeagueandIrealizedtherewasanotherstoryunfolding.Thebookwasinthepasttensebutsomethingwasgoingoninthepresenttensethatwasextraordinary.Owenwasexperiencingthemosttransitionalyearofhislifendashgraduatingfromcollegegettinghisownapartmentfallinginloveforthefirsttimendashallthingsmostpeoplehaveexperiencedatonetimeoranother.HerewasagreatopportunitynotonlytotellOwenrsquosstoryfromhisperspectivebuttotellitasaclassiccomingofagestoryandtocaptureitasitwasunfolding.OfcourseforsomeonewithautismallthesedramaticlifetransitionstakeplaceinamuchmoreintensefashionbutthecommonalityofthisstageofdevelopmentinanyonersquoslifeistheheartofLifeAnimated.ThisiswhyIseethefilmasauniversalcomingofagestory.brbrbrstrongimgstylefloatrightmargin5px15pxsrchttpwww.girl.com.auimglifeanimated4.jpgheight232width350QuestionstrongWhatwereyourthoughtsonRonsbookbrbrstrongRogerRossWilliamsstrongIwasverymovedwhenIfirstreadthebookmdashnotonlybytheincredibleloveandbraveryonthepartoftheSuskindsbutalsobythechallengestheyfacedandhowtheyovercamethosechallenges.IwasequallymovedbythewayOwenhadcreatedthisincredibleandcolorfulworldinhismindwithhisDisneysidekicksandhowRonbroughtthattolifeinhisownway.brbrbrstrongQuestionstrongWhatinyouropinionisthebeautyofstoryaccordingtoOwensperspectivebrbrstrongRogerRossWilliamsstrongThewayOweninterpretsandprocessesstoriesisfascinatingtomeanditopenedmeupasafilmmakerintermsofthedifferentnarrativedevicesIcouldusetotellhisstory.IcametolovethewayOwenprocessesmedia.HeslookedintoatelevisionscreenforhisentirelifeandheknowsthewordstoeveryDisneyanimatedfilmevermade.Henotonlyknowsthemintimatelyheusesthemtodecipherthewayinwhichtheworldworksandmostimportantlyndashhoweveryoneisimportanttothewaythingsgo.brbrOwenhasobservedthattheheroesinstoriesmaycarryoutthegreatactionsthatchangetheworldorturnthetideorfixwhathadgonewrongbutwithoutthecollaborationofthesidekicksndashwithwhomOwenfeelsmostalliedndashtheherocouldneveraccomplishhisorherultimatetask.InOwenrsquosunderstandingofstoryeveryonematterseveryoneisindispensibletowhattranspiresandeveryonehasarighttoclaimthejointlyheldstoryastheirown.ThatisthebeautyofstorythatIlearnedfromOwenSuskind.brbrbrstrongQuestionstrongLifeAnimatedisasmuchaboutsoundasitisaboutvision.CanyouelaboratebrbrstrongRogerRossWilliamsstrongInthefilmyouseevariousDisneyclipsplayingonascreenandOwenmouthseveryline.VisuallytheissuewasaboutgettinginsideOwensheadandbringingthattolifeinthefilm.SoundwisewecapturedOwenchannelingallthedifferentcharacterswiththeirwidelydivergentvoicesandturnedthisintoitsownmusicallanguage.DylanStarkandToddGriffinourcomposersrecordedOwensselftalkinginadditiontosoundeffectslikethesoundofVHStapefastforwardingetc.AndthenthebrilliantPeteHornerandAlNelsonatSkywalkerSoundturneditintoamix.Sothefilmisverymuchasonicjourneyasmuchasavisualone.brbrbrstrongimgstylefloatleftmargin5px15pxsrchttpwww.girl.com.auimglifeanimated5.jpgheight233width350QuestionstrongYouuseanimatedsequencesasanotherwayofbringingtolifeOwensuniqueinteriorworld.HowdidyoucreatethesescenesbrbrstrongRogerRossWilliamsstrongOwencreatedthescenes.Atayoungagehestarteddrawinghisbelovedsidekicksmdashandheneverdrewheroesonlysidekicks.HemadeastoryoutofthiscalledTheLandoftheLostSidekicksanditsaworldthatisquitebeautiful.IworkedwithOwenandanamazingteamofanimatorsinFranceatMacGuffAnimationtobringtolifeOwenrsquoselaboratefantasyworld.ThevillainOwencreatedforhisstoryseemedtocorrespondwiththechallengesthathefacesinhisownlifeitcametosymbolisehisautisminthatthecreaturersquospowerwastomakeapersonrsquosmindfuzzyorconfused.WhileOwenwascreatingthisstoryhewasinsomewayswritinghisownbiographyornarrativesoIverymuchwantedtoanimatethatonscreen.brbrbrstrongQuestionstrongWhatwasOwensreactiontotheanimatedversionofTheLandoftheLostSidekickswhenyoushowedittohimbrbrstrongRogerRossWilliamsstrongOwenhasrawemotionsmdashhedoesnthavefilters.Whenhefirstwatchedithewasjumpingupanddownandhuggingus.Owengenerallyshiesawayfromphysicalcontactotherthanwithfamilybuthecouldntholdbackfromshowinghowmuchhelovedtheanimation.Itwasanincredibleexperienceshowinghimthatpartofthefilmforthefirsttime.brbrbrstrongQuestionstrongYougettheimpressionfromwatchingLifeAnimatedthatOwenisajoyfulperson.WheredoyouthinkhisjoycomesfrombrbrstrongRogerRossWilliamsstrongIthinkitsdefinitelyatestamenttohisfamilyandspecificallyhismotherCornelia.SherefusedtolistentotraditionalmedicalexpertssomeofwhoadvisedthatthefamilyrestrictOwenrsquosaccesstothethingsthatmadehimthehappiestwhichwereDisneyanimatedmovies.CorneliaknewthatthiswouldbelikerestrictingOwenrsquoscreativity.brbrIngeneralOwensparentsworkedintuitivelywithhimandprotectedhimgivinghimwhatheneededinordertoblossom.TheressuchincredibleloveinthatfamilyandoneofthemainreasonsOwenissohappyisbecausehessurroundedbythatlove.brbrbrstrongQuestionstrongWhereisOwennowinhislifeIsheinagoodplacebrbrstrongRogerRossWilliamsstrongIthinkhesinagoodplace.Hesstrugglingwiththesamechallengesofadulthoodthatweveallinsomewayfacedthoughobviouslyitsmuchmoreintenseforhim.Hesstillstrugglingwithhisrelationshipwithhisformergirlfriendmdashthebreakupwasverydifficultforhim.Buthestillhasincrediblesupportfromhisfamilysohesokayfornow.Hesgoingtohavetogothroughthesestrugglesandthefamilycanonlydosomuch.ThebreakupsandsetbacksanddisappointmentsarebeneficialinawayandIthinkhescopingwiththemmuchbetterthananyoneexpected.HewantstosethisownagendaandafterarockystartIthinkhesrisentotheoccasion.brbrbrstrongimgstylefloatrightmargin5px15pxsrchttpwww.girl.com.auimglifeanimated6.jpgheight197width350QuestionstrongWhatwasitlikeworkingwithDisneyonthisprojectHowforthcomingwasthecompanyintermsoflicensingtheanimatedsequenceswhicharesocrucialtothisfilmbrbrstrongRogerRossWilliamsstrongItwasimportanttodeveloparelationshipwithDisneyearlyoninproduction.MyproducerJulieGoldmanandIestablishedandmaintainedthatrelationshipthroughouttheproduction.WelicensedthefootagefromDisneyandtheydonothaveanyownershiporeditorialcontroloverthecontentofthefilm.IthinktheexecutivesatDisneysimplylikedmyvisionanddecidednottostandinourway.brbrbrstrongQuestionstrongOneofthekeyquotesinthemovieisLifeisnotaDisneymovie.HowisthatrepresentedinLifeAnimatedbrbrstrongRogerRossWilliamsstrongOnethingOwenlearnsoverthecourseofthestoryistomovebeyondDisneymoviesanddealwiththerealissuesinhislifeincludingromanticrelationships.CharactersinDisneymoviesdonthavesexbutpeopleinreallifedo.OwenfacesmanychallengesashemovestowardindependenceandsolutionscanrsquotalwaysbefoundinthelessonslearnedfromDisneyfilms.brbrbrstrongQuestionstrongYoudontinfantilizeOweninthismoviemdashyoutreathimasanadult.WerethereanyplacesyoucouldntgowithhimDidtheSuskindssetboundariesbrbrstrongRogerRossWilliamsstrongWehadbuiltupsuchincredibletrustwiththeSuskindsthattheydidntputanyrestrictionsonmeormyprocesstheyneverhovered.TheyallowedmetogettoknowOwenonmyownterms.WithromanceandotheradultconcernsOwengoesasfarashescomfortablewithinhisownlifeandthatswhatIcapturedespeciallyinthesceneswithhisolderbrotherWalt.IfeltitwasimportanttocapturethatbecauseWaltessentiallywastheherofigureinOwenslife.brbrbrstrongQuestionstrongLifeAnimatedandyourpreviousfeatureGODLOVESUGANDAarebothtoadegreeaboutcapturingheartsandminds.DoyouseeaconnectionbetweenthesefilmsbrbrstrongRogerRossWilliamsstrongIthinkbothfilmsareaboutoutsiderslookingfortheirplaceintheworldbuttheyaredoingsothroughinvertedmethods.InGodLovesUgandathesubjectswerespiritualcolonistswhowerereinforcingtheirownbeliefsbyproselytizingthosebeliefsinanattempttoinfluencetheshapeoftheworld.InLifeAnimatedOwenandtheSuskindsoffernoprescriptionfortheworldtotakeupbeyondtheideathatthelsquodifferentlyabledrsquoamongusmayholdthekeystomanyofthedoorswehaveneverbeenabletoopeninlife.InmyestimationGodLovesUgandawasaboutadesiretonarrowtherangeofunderstandingconcerningthehumanconditionandLifeAnimatedisaboutwideningthatrangesothatallareincludedinthisgrandexperimentoflife.Idoliketogotoplaceslikethisinmywork.Ijustwanttogetitalldownontherecord.Thatsmymotivationasafilmmakerndashtocaptureitallashonestlyaspossibleandthenlettheaudienceparseoutwhatitallmeans.brbrbrppstrongLifeAnimatedstrongbrstrongReleaseDatestrongSeptember29th2016p


 
 
 



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