Animahenasyon 2010: Jess Espanola

Day 2 of Animahenasyon started with a Webinar with one of the most respected filipino animator in the industry. He is the assistant director of our favorite animated series, The Simpsons and won an Emmy for its episode titled "The Simpsons - Eternal Moonshine of the Simpsons Mind". He is Mr. Jess Espa├▒ola, a full-blooded filipino raised in Pampanga and finished his studied at University of the Philippines with a degree in Fine Arts.

Mr Jess gave an inspiring speech about his life. In his childhood years, life hasn't been easy on him. He cannot afford going to school and his only dream was education. With his perseverance, he was able to graduate while working part time making drawings and using his raw talent. In high school he served as the school artist. He is known for his creativity and sheer talent in drawing. Because of that he decided to take Fine Arts in college, graduated and worked.

His big break was given to him when he was sent to America. He didn't have any type of portfolio but still worked hard to impress his boss. Indeed, Jess was an excellent animator and proved to be one through years of hard work and constant improvement and adjustment to his new home. Now, Jess is the assistant director of the show The Simpsons which is famous for depicting an all-American family with a lot of culture, social commentaries with a great sense of humor. He said that the show is very popular not because of its intricate animation and effects but because of the way how they tell the story.

We had a forum and a very interactive chat with Mr Jess while he is live in America. One of the most important discussion was about the Philippine Animation Industry. What he observed is that Philippine Animators are no doubt very talented. In fact, many animation companies outsource animators here in country for its talent and easy communication since Filipinos are English speakers too. However, it has been years since Filipinos have been working for Filipinos but we never had our identity of our own. America is known for its Disney style and other types of animation. Japan has Anime and European countries are very excellent in animation like France. Philippines is a hub of talent but we didn't have the opportunity to develop our own style of Animation. Many suggested that the government should take part like what Japan and France did. To have the top quality of animation, we should have the bests of teachers, students, artists, animators, directors, writers, and all the technical expertise. But only few companies can do that here.

Talking about developing our own style of animation, Mr Jess expressed that in order to do that, we must not copy the western style or japanese style of storytelling or animation but rather serve an inspiration or create a hybrid with our own style that we can create out of our own culture. We must start by developing the local animation industry like producing animated series or shorts that reflect our own culture and that can really tickle the Filipino audience using our own stories and talents. When the local animation is fully matured and has its identity, the international audience will soon notice and appreciate it since they always look for something new or strange to them like what we have. It our task to discover it and make it a reality but we have to really focus and commit to it. However, we cannot do it on our own because of the lack of support of our government and local investors. TV station would rather subscribe to foreign animations and the government does not really see the potential of the industry.

That's me in blue jacket. haha

Mr. Jess admitted that the local animation is still way behind in terms of story telling and technicalities. Even the first few full-length animated films that we had is not quite "there" yet. He even had criticisms about some details but still he is trying to be positive. He is very supportive of the industry here and is very willing to spare his time whenever we need it.

We really had fun during the talk and he said that he was really enjoying having the conversation with us. Even though he stayed in US for years he was speaking Tagalog with us and he admitted that he still finds difficulty in speaking English. He is also a great sense of humor which his boss and colleagues really like about him. Though he cannot deliver an American joke, they still find his filipino jokes funny. What is great about the Simpsons is that it reflected the multi-cultural aspects of America.

One person asked about his success. He said that sometimes success is measured through money so he said that he's not quite successful yet cause he is not yet a millionaire. But being an award-winning animator is the pinnacle of his success. Because of it, many recognized the amount of contribution that the Filipino talents shared in this great tv series. Some even don't know that there are Filipino animators, too. Before, he was just a poor boy whose only dream was just to have an education. Now, he is the first Filipino Emmy winner.

Mr. Jess is such an inspiration to all of us. I am glad just to be there and be filled with all his wisdom and insights that he shared to all of us. Thanks to Animahenasyon for making this possible and it was really a one of a kind event. I hope that there will be more Filipinos who will reach this kind of success including myself. So to everyone, keep on dreaming and persevering so that someday you will find yourself in the pinnacle of success.

Here are some links that you might want to visit:

Jess Espanola - Internet Movie Database
Jess Espanola is the first Filipino to win an Emmy award

Thanks to Gerard Asay and for the photos :D

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