“Imagination Takes You Everywhere”
The presidential election is less than two weeks away and American entrepreneurship is on the line. We are told by candidates that 60% of all jobs come from small businesses. So, I thought I’d check in with Chris Wedge, who is the brains, the heart and the innovator of Blue Sky, an animation studio that produced “Ice Age,” “Robots,” and the soon-to-come “Epic.” Blue Sky, once a very small business, started out in Elmsford, then located in White Plains and now has expanded, moving its artists, writers, producers, designers, modelers, riggers, filmmakers, cameramen, photographers, sculptors, composers, lighting and costume designers, editors and other creators to new studios in Greenwich, CT. With roots still in Westchester, however, (Chris and family reside in Katonah) Wedge has collaborated with the Katonah Museum and Jacob Burns Film Center on a joint exhibition, film and education program about the art of animation. This unique program introduces observers to Blue Sky’s creative process, from initial concept to finished frame through original drawings, storyboards, props, movie clips, and hands-on technology.
Though Blue Sky is a small business, in comparison, say to Twentieth Century Fox Animation, with whom they work, it is also a creative business of which there are some 3,988 in Westchester alone, employing 15,279 people, according to a study by Americans for the Arts. So, as one left brain person to another, I asked Chris Wedge what it takes to be a creative entrepreneur like himself. “You just can’t put a limit on possibilities,” he says. ‘You must be open to discovery and surprise. Don’t think too hard. Fun is important. Get out of your own way. Do the work that feels right. The more one investigates, the clearer the potential becomes.” His response sounded to me like a page out of the creative process playbook, so I pressed on. In his incredible business, Wedge depends on the collaboration of the most talented people he can find. Many talents makes a project bigger than any one person. “It gives an epic presence.” Wedge admits he “learned early to surround myself with people better than me.” What kind of people? Well, according to the Blue Sky website: “to become a feature film animator you must be equal parts artist, actor, puppeteer, and nerd…as well as one of the most patient humans on earth.” How many people? Well according to Wedge, 172 worked on “Ice Age,” 250 worked on “Robots” and 500 will work on “Epic,” when all is said and done. It’s clear that Blue Sky is one of the creative economic engines in our area.
So, in this era when the world is crying out for creative solutions, let’s hear it for the creative talent in our midst! Historian Eugene Ferguson opined: “Pyramids, cathedrals, and rockets exist not because of geometry, theories of structures, or thermodynamics, but because they were first a picture — literally a vision — in the minds of those who built them.” The trajectory for the future is innovation. As Einstein put it: “Logic can take you from A to B. Imagination takes you everywhere.”