Key to Filipino success: “We’re just very friendly people”

Art June 20, 2016 01:00

By The Nation
email: ntsoopsip@g

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Soopsip just finished writing about Filipinos bragging how many shining lights they’ve got on the global sports and entertainment stages and now along comes Paul Abadilla, one of the key animators on the new Pixar film “Finding Dory”.



The Philippine Daily Inquirer understandably wanted to know what makes folks from that sprawling, spidery country so special.
“We’re just very friendly people,” the Filipino-American artist told the newspaper while lodged at the Makati Shangri-La during a visit to his ancestral homeland. 
“It comes naturally. One thing that comes to mind is we’re respectful. The level of respect we have for others is always something I keep in mind.”
The 32-year-old, who moved from Manila to the US when he was seven, says he still hungers for Filipino food. “Being around family, we always congregate around food!”
Abadilla joined Pixar Animation Studios as an intern in 2008 and worked on “Brave” and “Monsters University” as a sketch artist. “Finding Dory”, the sequel to the smash 2003 feature-length cartoon “Finding Nemo”, brings back Ellen DeGeneres as the title character’s voice actor. 
The Inquirer inquired about Abadilla’s relationship with other Pixnoys, as Filipino Pixar artists mirthfully call themselves. “We have a mutual understanding that this is pretty cool. We gather once a year – it’s pot luck. Again, it’s food. We’re really well represented in the company, in different departments.”
And what exactly is it they do? “My official title is sketch artist but my job entails environment design, which setting up the stage for our characters to live in.”
Dory is a dory fish with absolutely zero short-term memory, which is surely tragic for human sufferers but it’s hilarious in a cartoon fish. Abadilla said her predicament posed a challenge for the writers, but they overcame it in clever fashion.
Asked what advice he can offer aspiring artists (and especially aspiring Filipino stars of their various trades), he said they just have to keep practising. “Keeping a sketchbook is a good way to hone your observational skills, to draw loosely but clearly.
“A huge part of my job is being able to give the director – in this case Andrew Stanton – a lot of options. And you want to do that quickly and clearly, so he can read what it is you’re trying to communicate.
“Also, get feedback from your peers and teachers when you finish whatever it is you’re working on. Show it to people. Ask for their opinion on how you can be better at it.”
The Inquirer asked who his favourite artists are, probably expecting him to say Walt Disney or Stan Lee, but he came up with the name Richard Schmid, evidently some American painter. “I just love the way he portrays light. His technique is very loose and impressionistic, but I’m really drawn to his work.”