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Director of Minions in Strengthening the Local Film and Animation Education and Industry
Updated 2017-03-30
Kyle Balda on his Minions characters during The One Academy’s Film Directing Masterclass.

The One Academy, one of Malaysia’s leading art and design college, co-organised Film Directing Masterclass recently. The event was an important milestone not only to the institution, but also to the local creative entertainment industry as it was conducted by Kyle Balda, co-director of Minions, the universally-loved animated motion picture that grossed over $1.1 billion US dollars.

Like many other talented creatives, Balda studied traditional animation at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). He spent more than 20 years working with different animation giants such as Industrial Light & Magic, Weta Digital, Pixar and currently Illumination Entertainment. He has contributed to many favourite classics such as The Mask, Jumanji, A Bug’s Life, Monsters Inc., Toy Story 2 and Despicable Me. Despicable Me 3, in which Balda co-directed, will be released this June.

Years ago when he first came to The One Academy, Balda was talking more specifically about 3D animation methodology and how to approach the subject. With more time in hand this time around, he was able to cover a wider scope in terms of thinking about story structure, character development and how to bring emotions forward in the storytelling process, among other aspects.

On the first day of the 2-day Masterclass, Balda took the opportunity to interact with students more intimately, which he was not able to during his previous class. Prior to the event, he compiled a series of questions from the students for a Q&A session. He spent time to get a sense of where the students are at in terms of their learning curve. From the kinds of questions they were asking, students gave him insights into the process they were dealing with in making their own film and doing their own shots.

Day 2 involved more intensive lectures about story, character and emotion. Balda stressed that three aspects of a film are the backbones to construct a compelling and successful movie. Story provides a structure that helps us to grasp the narrative, character allows us to relate to the narrative, while emotion persuades us to engage with the narrative. He also delved into acting, staging and editing that should complement all other aspects to create memorable and emotionally entertaining screen moments that will sweep the audience away.

As a talented and experienced industry animator, he enhanced his teachings with his insights and other great references that benefit young students in terms of practical skills and knowledge. This is why The One Academy will always be committed to its ‘Masters Train Masters’ teaching philosophy whereby industry experts from all over the world are invited to teach students their ways and approaches as practised in the industry.

“I definitely love coming to The One Academy to teach. There’s a real dedication to quality when it comes to the education here,” Balda said. “The One Academy is famous for bringing in people like Andrew Gordon, Matthew Luhn and other professionals from North America who have worked in Hollywood,” he affirms The One Academy’s pedagogy.

Co-organised by The One Academy and FINAS (Perbadanan Kemajuan Filem Nasional Malaysia), this Masterclass is one step to growing the national animation and film industry. It also allows The One Academy to keep their educational syllabus up to date to produce graduates who are competent enough to face the animation industry.

“In the last 10 years, we have spent a lot of effort and we have seen the results. The Malaysian animation industry is getting bigger and this is a golden opportunity for us to create our own Intellectual Property and market it worldwide,” said Principal and Founder of The One Academy Tatsun Hoi.

FINAS said that they support the continuous effort in training and skill development of local Malaysian talents. In fact, through their support for animation in films and games, they have grown professionals who are capable and talented. Within the last 5 years, FINAS has also been encouraging local animation productions. BoBoiBoy for instance, was screened in Korea just recently.

With a $50 billion US dollar forecast for global box office revenue in 2020, the expanding film industry promises vast career options to students and graduates who wish to go into the animation film industry.

Kyle Balda and participants during The One Academy’s Film Directing Masterclass.

From left: Founder & Principal of The One Academy Tatsun Hoi, President of Asia Pacific Brands Foundation (APBF) Dr. KK Johan, Director of Minions Kyle Balda and Chairman of APBF YBhg Tan Sri Rainer Althoff. Kyle Balda receiving The BrandLaureate International Brand Personality Award after The One Academy’s Film Directing Masterclass.