March 25th, 5pm, SCB 104 The Art of the Pitch: Mark Osborne

Mark Osborne, director of The Little Prince

Mark Osborne, director of The Little Prince

Mark Osborne, the director of The Little Prince and Kung Fu Panda 1 will be dropping by for a casual conversation with Hench-DADA students!

He is bringing along his famous “magic suitcase,” full of incredible, hand-made optical delights, which traveled the world, charming investors and winning over composer Hans Zimmer as well as a stellar cast including Jeff Bridges and Rachel McAdams.

During the 5 1/2 years it took to make the film, the suitcase was the perfect object for pitching the project. Handmade by “Coraline” modeler Joe Schmidt, it includes gears, switches, a giant book of illustrations, the constellations, and more.

“I had people in tears at the end of the pitch,” Osborne said. “It became this very emotional way to communicate to people.”

Mark will share his personal vision of this classic and beloved book, “The Little Prince” and discuss how he made the choice to combine CG and stop motion to tell the story.


16 thoughts on “March 25th, 5pm, SCB 104 The Art of the Pitch: Mark Osborne

  1. David Nessl says:

    I liked Mark’s analogy when he answered my question about the difference between directing at Dreamworks vs. The Little Prince. There’s something about being dragged through the constant stresses of overwhelming animation work that really builds character. When we aren’t working on a project it’s as if our lives turn backwards and we’re confused, depressed and there’s this withdrawal period that begs for more. More beautifully aggravating top motion models…More innovative designs and artistically crafted worlds that bring us to another place in our minds.

    Sometimes I forget the feeling I had when I first encountered our graduate program and how cool it was to finally be immersed in a group of people that seemed to all think the same and pursue the same things I feel are very important in life. What I got out of Mark’s answer was this difference between an overall vision and collaboration that seems to be lost in mundane or invested interest projects from large studios.

    It’s also very strange how two of our guests so far have worked on projects that captured their own lives. What I’m referring to is Valerie Lapointe’s huge influence on Inside Out and how the little girl in the movie was so much like herself–it was awesome. In this case the book The Little Prince was something that held nostalgia and life experiences for Mark. From what he told us, it was a big part of his life far before he was approached to make the film. It’s like unconsciously his work directed people towards asking him to direct the project–but that’s crazy talk.


  2. ZOEY says:

    Mark’s presentation totally blew my mind away. It was really fantastic and moved. Especially for the part about the inspiring quote from Aviator: “ … What is essential is invisible to the eye.” He exploited this quote to pursue the meaning of constructing the film and also his lives. When he showed the letter from his wife, I read layers of impacts from miscellaneous dimensions of the magic power he told in The Little Prince and the magic suitcase.

    Nothing is more significant than he took advantage of portable suitcase to travel around different spots to fit organic and dynamic idea of The Little Prince, which can not only takes his personal experiences and interpretation toward the classic into solid core but also can convince founders and inspire crews at the same time. He is like a farmer who takes a bag of seed and spread onto people’s minds. Very impressed and very nourished.

    Also he explained how to make this film with constant back and forth efforts. For instance, there were countless tests to get the feeling of paper so that they know how to construct the scenes. And they need to take advantage of various multi-tasking methods to stage the main idea which can really let viewers get core theme. And it will be the most efficacious way to stimulate imagination of public and spread the idea. These experiments were nothing but had to step back to see the big picture so that different scenes can circle and hook to the anchor of concept tightly.


  3. Yu Yu says:

    I watched this Little Prince movie twice. Once in the Theater in Taiwan, and the second time is on the plane when I get the way back here. It needs lots of courage and confident to adapt this classic. It is a book for children, but I didn’t understand the meaning until I get in the high school. Maybe it is more correct to say that it is the book for the adults who don’t want to grow up. Actually, only the adults will “know” there is not a hat but a snake swallow an elephant because they read the little prince.

    I love the magic suitcase. It is an amazing way to do the pitch. Sometimes no matter how hard you explain, it is still not stronger than what people can see. Mark Osborne knows what he wants to tell and actually makes them happen. Maybe that’s why he can lead and organize both teams from CG to the stop motion, and combine them together very well.


  4. Jane G. Kim says:

    It is a bold decision to create a film adaptation of a well-aged beloved children’s book, especially that of a different country. I really enjoyed listening to Mark Osbourne’s explanation of how to go across doing so; in a way that would be successful and respectable to the original story. Like someone had said in one of the earlier responses, I, too, did not understand “The Little Prince” when I first read it in elementary school, but I started to when I read it again in high school. I feel like the movie will have the same effect on the young viewers. This talk was a very good lesson on making movie adaptations, especially of beloved stories. The magic suitcase was just as beautiful and was a great approach on pitching the movie; something whimsical to remind you to not forget your childhood.


  5. Katie Smith says:

    Boy I loved seeing Mark Osborne’s presentation! People like him and presentations like that are such a wonderful reminder as to how magical this field can be. His approach to pitching the movie with the magic suitcase was so interesting and innovative, you can’t help but feel captured by the fun and artistry with it. Plus, it adds SO much more to the pitch than just clicking through images… I wish every pitch were like that. I found a lot of inspiration in it, and I hope to one day have my own magic suitcase type of pitch.

    I also really enjoyed how much ‘The Little Prince’ played a part in Mark’s life even before he was tied to directing the film. As David mentions above, it’s funny how things like that work out – like with Valerie and her background having such a big influence on ‘Inside Out’ and the character Joy, and then Mark and his background with ‘the Little Prince’. It really spoke to me, how he was torn and unsure about his decision to go to California for CalArts, and his girlfriend at the time (and now wife) gave him ‘The Little Prince’ when he left and it helped him with his transition. While I was really excited to come out here for school, it was a hard decision for me to leave the East Coast; I’d really like to re-read the book again and see if I find solace in it as well during times when I miss home. Also, I wish the movie was being played here in the States! It’s such a shame and is so frustrating that they pulled it. From what I’ve seen of the film, it looks gorgeous, and Mark took such care with it to make sure he got it right. I think it would be a shoo-in for the Oscars, but with it not being shown in the US (and rumors are that it will be distributed by Netflix) I wonder if it’ll still be eligible. Perhaps this will cause a change in the Oscar guidelines, now that Netflix is really becoming a great way for content to be shown and distributed and is already well regarded with TV content.

    Thanks so much for coming in Mark, I can’t wait for you to come in again to Seminar in the fall, and to see more of the magic suitcase and ‘the Little Prince.’


  6. Megan Simon says:

    What I appreciated most about Marks presentation was his passion. He truly looked like a kid telling us about his experiences in creating Le Petite Prince. What a wild ride it was, all starting with a gorgeous magic box. Make truly poured his heart into the film, given the story was very personal to him. How chaotic it must have been coordinating funding from different sources and teams in different countries! It’s truly mind blowing the possibilities in producing features and Mark showed so amazing intuitive spirit in making this film happen. The most exciting pet of the presentation for me was seeing the magic box and concept art that sold the movie. It was truly a magical and inspiring lecture that really made me think about what my passions are and what kind of stories so I want to live?


  7. Okike Franklin says:

    Marks love for his art is unbelievable. That’s what this profession is about!! bringing out your inner child. Talks like this should be encouraged more! knowing “how to pitch” I’ve found is really hard and important.
    Marks suitcase !!! pure Magic


  8. Min Shi says:

    Mark’s presentation was very amazing.
    I really appreciated the way that he pitching, very informative effective and logical. I guess I learned a lot from his pitching today. The first thing I guess is to be very logical to catch all the viewers. Second is that I guess pitching should be not too long but quickly show the listeners your key point. Obviously, Mark is really good at it, I was not distracted at all during his pitching.
    The magic box can show that Mark is really a sincere person. After the presentation, I came to the front to closely looked at the magic box. Not to mentioned, it is elaborate and functional . I viewed his concept book of this movie, some concept rendering is crazily sick, love them! Especially the room of the pilot. Another concept that I really like is the different between two character’s living environment. From inside of their bedroom to the appearance of the two distinctive house. I’m interesting in creating and design the environment of the character, for this film, I think it does a great job in creating different characters background by their living environment.


  9. Jing Huang says:

    I super love Mark’s presentation, and I learned a lot from his speech. He speak fast but clearly, and his speech is full of useful informations. Sometimes in our own pitch presentation, our students always wanna tell others all details about our projects, so that we speak too much without key points. But from his speech, I learned that there is more important to tell the key point with some useful details to attract audience to keep with me, then if audiences have some questions that we can talk more details to explain more. Mark makes me learned what skills of pitch does a professional director need.

    And the magical suitcase is super amazing! I love the concept book of Little Prince,thanks for this amazing presentation!


  10. Shang Song says:

    I have seen the “Little Prince” in the picture book before long, it is a masterpiece, I have been told there is a animation version of “the little prince”, I doubt it, I’m not sure this animation can still become a masterpiece”. However, Mark use five years of time tell me, yes, it is a masterpiece.

    Mark is a big sincerely child , with his own passion, conscientious and faith, made this work. Whenever I think of them in order to find a suitable paper, the hundreds of times the test, I will be marveled at their inner strength. I think, make a good animation, not just to have enough budget, superb technology, more important is to have a sincere heart.


  11. Sequoyah Madison says:

    An insightful part of Mark’s presentation was when he discussed the differences of directing a movie financially backed by a large animation company vs. directing a low budget animation where everything needs to be assembled from scratch. As a director for an animation run by an already established studio you have to fight for the better and often riskier parts of the movie. Mark further explains that a lot of people want to play it safe – but the greater investment is trusting the artist and their team.

    Mark reminds us that physical tangible objects when pitching can really drive home the point. Mark’s suitcase of Little Prince treasures brought a sample of the story to the real world, which made Mark’s proposal to create a Little Prince animation all the more believable. It’s important to remember that those extra creative steps can go a long way.


  12. Kun Xia says:

    It was such a great opportunity for Mark Osborne to present the pitch process of the little prince. The story of a precocious boy who enchants a stranded pilot with his sad, allegorical tales of traveling the universe. I have read the novel before, and I agree with Mark, anyone who reads the book has their own personal impression of the book, and it is a huge challenge to write a screenplay for the book. Mark says he was not only pitching to artists and actors, he was also pitching the movie to distributors all over the world using the “magic suitcase”, full of hand-made visual aids specifically create to communicate with the tone. And he mentioned that he have pitched the movie close to 400 times. I really admire his passion and the effort he put in to this work, I have watched the movie, and it was beautiful. Stop-motion animation adds another wonderful layer to the film


  13. Erik Dumas says:

    First off, I think everyone is in agreement that the magic suitcase pitch was a phenomenal way to present the idea of this movie. It has to be the most creative and imaginative pitch I have ever seen. But even more than that, I think it showed how emotionally invested in the project Mark was.

    For me, all of the best pieces of film-making happen when the filmmaker pours their heart and soul into their craft. When an artists feels strong emotions while they make their work, I think that carries over when the audience watches it. If the artist doesn’t feel a visceral, emotional connection to their work, then the audience won’t either.

    I was able to watch The Little Prince after this seminar (don’t ask how,) and I absolutely loved it, because the emotions felt absolutely real. Thank you Mark for this wonderful film and this fantastic seminar.


  14. HyeonJeong Cho says:

    I thought magic suitcase was a metaphor when I heard but I was wrong, it was a REAL MAGIC SUITCASE! Who cannot love that presentation with the suitcase? That’s just an amazing way to present a pitch.

    As an artist, it is an awesome experience that meeting the project you absolutely love, and have a change to be part of it. I can tell through his speaking, how he loves this work and the project; that make me excited too. Respecting other artists’ talents and cooperating with them is the one of the most effective and funniest way to work in animated film, and the result always tells. The clips that I watched during the seminar talked to me (in secret) I must watch this film, and I will.

    Thank you Mark for coming and sharing your experience, and awesome Q&A too!


  15. Bryan Lee says:

    It was a learning experience to hear the full process when it comes to pitching an animation idea from Mark Osborne. It was amazing to see the passion Osborne had for “The Little Prince” as well as the respect he held it at when making an adaptation for the film. And at the same time is was cool to hear the intricate levels of detail that go into the decision making processes of creating the film from the ground up and then conveying that idea to others. I’m excited to see the film when it comes out in theaters!


  16. Joe Stucky says:

    Mark Osborne’s presentation was fantastic. The tactile nature of his pitch suitcase was really fun to see. I appreciated hearing about the process of the pitch that he used. Interesting that used the pitch was useful to remind his crew of the reason for making the film as well. It was impressive to hear about the struggle he faced in taking on this project to begin with. A book that is difficult to make a film about for sure. Great that Mark found a creative way to solve the issue of “integrity for the book”, which is so dear to so many.


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