Patrick Osborne on pushing the boundaries of craft
Animator, screenwriter and film director Patrick Osborne has a knack for the kind of evocative storytelling that sticks with audiences. His 2016 short, Pearl, which depicted a father and daughter relationship as they chased their dreams from the confines of their old hatchback, was the first VR film to be nominated for an Oscar, while his Academy Award-winning animation, Feast, told an age-old love story through the lens of a man’s best friend – his dog Winston – revealing the tale bite by bite through the meals they share.
Osborne grew up in Ohio admiring his father’s creative skills as a toy designer at Kenner, the company that made action figures for blockbusters such as Star Wars. As a child he loved to draw, and ended up graduating from Florida’s Ringling College of Art and Design in the early noughties. “That happened to be a time when a lot of studios were starting animation divisions,” he tells CR. “Me being someone who liked to draw and animate, and played with computers as a kid, it seemed really obvious. Fine art, or illustration, or graphic design felt a lot riskier than joining an army of talent being sucked into the industry.”
Osborne ended up at Sony’s newly formed animation division, where he worked on films such as I Am Legend, before moving to Disney where he was part of the team on animated blockbusters including Bolt, Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph. Even back then, the animator was pushing to make art on the edges of what was technologically possible, as seen with Paperman, an animated short that accompanied the release of Wreck-It Ralph. “It was me and a software engineer making the software that made Paperman, and that was amazing. We were next to each other trying to make the coolest art tool to do this thing,” he says.