SIMON Allen left Perth for Hollywood in the 1990s to follow his dream and now shares his knowledge with the next generation of potential animators.
The former Pixar animator and current Murdoch University lecturer, who worked on Up, Toy Story 3 and Cars 2, will introduce an advance screening of Cars 3 in Innaloo on Monday.
“Growing up with Disney shows on Sunday, Disney sparked my curiosity into the industry,” he said.
“There was a behind the scenes TV show one time on how these movies were made so watching that at six years old, that’s when it clicked that it (animation) was someone’s job.
“But the problem was that I didn’t really know how I was going to get there.
“Back then, there weren’t any schools in Australia or New Zealand that taught this sort of thing, so you had to teach yourself, go to the library and find books on it or watch TV constantly hoping there was a behind the scenes show that could educate me.”
Allen’s dream took him to Hollywood for his big break, where he worked with industry legends.
“I left in the ‘90s when Perth was going through a recession, unemployment was about 12 per cent and for my age was about 25-30 per cent,” he said.
“I knew I always wanted to work in movies so I thought I’d give LA a try but was surprised that half of Hollywood was in San Francisco.
“George Lucas’ company was up there and that was where I started working making video games for him.
“And I was in the Phantom Menace, as an extra in a final scene waving a flag.”
Allen was mentored by special effects wizard Phil Tippet and worked on the Matrix movies before landing a gig at Pixar, where he got to work with his hero John Lasseter.
“I worked at Pixar for about five years; Cars 2 was the last movie I worked on before I left,” he said.
“I got to work on Cars 2 because I was working on Brave at the same time which was put on hold for a script re-write; they have multiple productions on at the same time, so we work on about four movies at the same time at different stages.
“I was excited because I always wanted to work with John Lassetter, the director of the film and co-founder of Pixar.
“He made a short called Luxo Jnr (1986), featuring the lamp in the Pixar logo, when computer animation was in its infancy, so I’d been following his career for some time.
“It was fantastic; he is such an amazing guy, a lot of energy, brilliant director but also just one of those legends in the industry.”
Despite missing the chance to work on Cars 3, Allen was keen to impart his experiences and some movie magic secrets to Perth audiences.
“A lot of animators teach now, some in their spare time,” he said.
What: Cars 3 Insider Screening
When: Monday, June 19 at 7pm
Where: Event Innaloo