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READERSVOICE.COM aims to collect a few interesting reading tips. Kyle Balda is a professional animator based in Paris. He has worked on a lot of well-known animation features, including The Lorax, Despicable Me, Monsters, Inc., Toy Story 2 and A Bug’s Life. In this interview he gives many reliable insights into the world of animation. He also provides good reading tips on movie making, and mentions an engaging book on the history of astronomy.

READERSVOICE.COM: Do you still live in Paris and if so, what part? And what’s your daily routine?

KYLE BALDA: I’ve been living in the Marias district of Paris for the last 10 years, which is a really cosy part of Paris with small winding streets. On a typical day, I get up early and do yoga for 90 minutes before heading into the studio. I get some time to read on the metro commuting to work which isn’t far from the Eiffel tower. Then I tuck in for the day working on various projects.

RV: You’ve taught everywhere from Les Gobelins in Paris, to the Image Festival Rotterdam, to the U.S.. What places will you visit in the coming year and any plans on coming to Australia?

KB: I would love to teach a class in Australia. I’ve never been before but I am very curious about the life there. Since I started directing, the production schedule has meant less time for teaching abroad, but I still manage to teach at Les Gobelins once or twice a year.

RV: You said in one interview, when you were at the Annecy Animation Film Festival promoting The Lorax, that you liked Miyazaki movies. Do you tend to read fantasy novels or stories a lot and if so which ones have you liked?

KB:: I mostly read non-fiction. Recently I’ve developed a completely geek obsession with astrophysics: presently reading Coming of Age in the Milky Way by Timothy Ferris which is a sort of history of astronomy. And since the last 20 years or so my favourite topic to read has been Jungian psychology. Originally having gotten into the subject out of a curiosity following a documentary I saw on Jung’s life, it quickly became apparent to me how relevant to story telling are Jung’s understanding of archetypal patterns in narratives or characters, whether in animation or live action.

But my favourite novel is The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles. The author breaks the narrative in the early chapters of the book and talks about the characters as figures that are out of his control. Then he follows them rather then bending them to his will as an author. It reminds me so much of the creative process. Even when animating a character you have to listen to what that character wants to do.

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– copyright Simon Sandall