Showing us a picture of himself as a little boy, the American director took us on yet another storytelling adventure. However, the main character of this story was a little boy named Mark Osborne, whose story began in Kindergarten at age 5.
“I was wearing an aviator’s hat and holding a camera. It’s almost as if I was destined to make a movie out of this story,” he said, referring to the movie, The Little Prince.
At age 7, Mark saw the very first Star Wars movie. Holding an inflatable lightsaber, he recalled how this was the moment that changed the way he looked at things. “I thought that everything that I saw in the movie was real, and it changed the way my brain worked. It made me so excited about stories,” he added.
When the next Star Wars movie came out, Mark was 10-years-old, and at this point, he realised that this movie was made by people and was not something real. This was when Mark decided that he wanted to pursue filmmaking, and the rest is history.
Mark Osborne – film director, writer, producer and animator – conducted a masterclass, titled 'Animation as a Tool of Expression' at the 53rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa. He walked the audience through his life and the series of choices that he felt were destined to happen.
The visual story went on as Mark showed the audience a picture of himself and his special girl, Kim, on their second date. Both of them met at the Pratt Institute in New York, USA.
This is where he started falling in love with animation as a way to tell stories. Having decided to take a deeper dive into animation, Mark then enrolled himself into the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), USA.
Since he would be moving away, Kim gifted Mark her copy of the book, The Little Prince, as a way to keep them connected even though they would be apart.
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye” – this is a quote from the book that resonated with Mark and stays with him even to this day.
Osborne deeply believes that the book is magic in itself and even went on to share a series of events as proof of his belief. “This book is very special to me. That is why, when the phone rang the first time and I was asked if I would like to turn this book into a movie, I said no," he laughed.
Mark spent his time at CalArts developing a short film. He was very interested in all different kinds of animation and stop motion animation. He wanted to use all these various techniques to tell the best version of the story.
“It was quite a ridiculous endeavour. I thought the film was going to be a disaster, but it won prizes at film festivals. I learned a valuable lesson that night – even when you think you’re making something that you think will not work, if your audience does not know everything that you went through and they can just experience the story, they might like it!” said Mark.
Later, he returned to CalArts as a teacher, and in the summer, he used faculty equipment to make another short film which ended up being nominated for an Oscar! It only got better as Mark began making films like Kung Fu Panda, which became a worldwide hit.
A film that started with just the idea of a panda doing kung fu, went on to become more than just an animated comedy film. It was one that had a deeper message to share.
Fast forward a few years, and Mark married Kim, and their special book was then read to their two children, Maddie and Riley. He recalled how although he had turned down the opportunity make the film, the thought of how this beautiful book had affected his life lingered on.
Finally, one morning, Mark decided to take up the offer and make the film. His daughter, Maddie, inspired the main female character in the movie, and his son, Riley, lent his voice to the character of the little prince.
Mark explained how he felt that the book has impacted thousands of people in thousand different ways. The research that went into making the film, the filmmaking process, and ensuring that the film went deeper than the surface, was geared towards doing justice to the book and its author.
The animation in this film is beautiful and soulful. The ultimate validation came when he received the Chevalier of the Order of Arts from France, thus paying homage to the legacy of the original writer, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
“You have to pay very close attention to the things that inspire you and find a way to make it yourself. Because every single person is going to have a different perspective. It’s all about relationships, connections and love,” concluded Mark.