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Peter Ramsey – Featured Film Director and Father

rise of the guardians directorAs a child, Peter Ramsey loved animation and movies. With his family’s encouragement, he started creating his own masterpieces when he was 3-years old.

“My parents taught me to think for myself and not to set limits on what I could do,” Ramsey said. “They were really good about supporting us in whatever we were interested in.”

Through years of study, practice, and hard work Ramsey began his career as a storyboard artist. He honed his talents while working on live action feature films such as Minority Report, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Cast Away, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Fight Club, Men in Black, Independence Day, and Batman Forever.

While working on these films, Ramsey realized that he wanted to be a director. He served as Second Unit Director on live action feature films including Godzilla, Tank Girl, Higher Learning, and Poetic Justice. After directing the hit DreamWorks Halloween special, Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space, Ramsey got his big break — he was offered the opportunity to direct his first feature film Rise of the Guardianswhich is available now on DVD and Blu-ray.

Even though Ramsey has achieved professional success, his role as a father remains his most important job.

“My kids are my greatest achievement,” he said. “They’re fantastic.”

In this interview, Ramsey shared more of his thoughts on creativity, art, and family.

How do you nurture your creativity?

Ramsey: I’ve always been a big reader, and I’ve spent a lot of time studying art, films and filmmakers, so I feel like I have a huge amount of inspiration to draw from. I also have a lot of creative friends who I share ideas with.

Many people believe they aren’t creative. How can they draw out their inner artist?

peter jackson rise of the guardiansRamsey: They have to get over the fear of criticism, especially from themselves, and realize that you can do anything if you just stick to it.  It may take time and effort, but so does anything worth doing. Not giving up is the key to success.

How did you make the transition from storyboard artist and production illustrator to feature length director?

Ramsey: I got into storyboarding with the intention of directing someday. Along the way, I was already writing stories, trying to make my own short films, and pushing to direct second units on some of the features I worked on.  It was really a case of working hard, letting people know about my ambitions and being ready when a chance came.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into the animation business?

Ramsey: To study ALL kinds of film, not just animation. There’s a whole rich world of art, literature and cinema to draw on and it will make your work and your life deeper and more fulfilling.

Many schools have eliminated art programs. Why do people feel as if art isn’t important and how can we change that perception?

Ramsey: It’s based in the fear that you won’t be able to make a living and that art is frivolous. But if all art were suddenly taken away, what would people have left? No music, no movies or TV, no painting, no graphic design. Pople just don’t understand how important art is to being human and to sharing the experience of being alive.  I don’t know how to change that perception other than giving successful examples of art improving kids’ lives and giving them the opportunity to participate.

How has technology changed the way you create art?

Ramsey: Well, I’m not the most technical guy around, but it has allowed me to do some complex things a lot faster and easier. It also makes me a little bolder because there’s not much that you can’t do anymore when it comes to visualizing things.

Do you still believe in Santa Claus?

Ramsey: Who doesn’t?

Connect with Fred on his blog Mocha Dad or via Twitter and Facebook. You can also read more of his posts on Babble.
photo via Dreamworks
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