Three questions for: Leslie Iwerks

Leslie Iwerks is the third speaker at  TedxTorinoSalon “Visioni”. Leslie is an American documentary director, producer and writer; she is also the granddaughter of Ub Iwerks, the animator and co-creator of Mickey Mouse. In this interview she speaks about the most exciting aspects of her job among  documentaries and computer animations, and explains what it means to grow up and live in the Walt Disney’s animation and fantasy world.


Q: What’s the most complex (and exciting) part of your work?


A: The most exciting part of my work is commencing research on a subject that interests me, deep diving into a new world, meeting the subject(s) and immersing myself into that world, then discovering for myself what to pull out that is the most unique and untold aspect about it. There are no scripts for documentaries, so the most complex part is taking what is often hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of hours of material and coalescing it down into an interesting and entertaining narrative structure that people will hopefully watch!


Leslie Iwerks 3 - TEDxTorino Visioni


Q: You were born surrounded by the wonderful world of imagination and fantasy, how can you live your true self having had such unparalleled predecessors?


A: Living up to two stellar examples of ingenuity, creativity and success like my father and grandfather can be daunting if I think too hard about it. But by accidentally stumbling into documentary filmmaking, I was able to find my own voice and way of expressing, while really experiencing life. I’ve had the great honor to witness and tell stories around the world you couldn’t make up if you tried. I love the surprises of real life, and celebrating the stories of human achievement, creativity and innovation. I am drawn to underdog stories and the humble acts that have made this world a better place. These subjects inspire me and then I can be the instrument to inspire others.


Leslie Iwerks - TEDxTorino Visioni


Q: Is there anything you regret about the old film (animation) industry? Anything that scares you about the contemporary film (animation) industry?

A: The 2d hand drawn animation of old is a truly magical art form. I believe there is a tangible, tactile, even romantic connection between pencil and paper that is lost in the process of computer animation. But none of that is scary, in fact quite the contrary!  Improved tools are inevitable, they are part of human evolution, we naturally want to be more efficient. I believe if Walt Disney and my grandfather Ub Iwerks were alive today, they’d already be innovating the next revolution beyond computer graphics, just like Ed Catmull and John Lasseter revolutionized traditional animation. But as John says, ‘no amount of technology can save a bad story.’ The tools of animation are just the carriers of a good story, and as long as we have good stories, then we progress.


See you at TedxTorinoSalon “Visioni”!