ReDefine Centre Stage – Interview with Boris Hiestand

Get ready to give a standing ovation for our new profile series, ReDefine Centre Stage! In this series, we’ll be shining a light on the spectacular individuals who work across our global studios. Every two weeks, a different team member will take the stage to share their experiences, insights and advice. Today we are chatting with Boris Hiestand, Director, ReDefine Originals based at our London studio.

1. How did you get your start in Animation? What inspired you to choose Animation as a career? 

From a very young age, I was mesmerised by the Disney 2D classics. I also always loved acting and drawing. When I was 14 and found out that people actually make animated films for a living, I was hooked and wanted to do nothing else. I was lucky enough to discover that I lived near Oscar-winning 2D Animator Børge Ring who became a mentor figure and further infected me with the animation bug. The kind of high-quality commercial animation I was interested in wasn’t really produced in my home country (The Netherlands) at the time so I decided to move to the UK and study film and animation at what was then called The Surrey Institute Of Art And Design in Farnham. After that, I moved around Europe for a few years working as a 2D animator on features, commercials, TV and whatever else I could sink my teeth into to develop my skills. Returning to London, I found that hand-drawn work was drying up a bit so I got into CG animation and got my first taste of the world of VFX.

2. What’s the best thing about being a Director? 

The variety of the work. On any given day I can have calls with storyboard artists, animators, a composer, actors, lighting people, writers. It really inspires me to work closely with people from such vastly different backgrounds and skill sets to create something we can all be proud of.

3. Tell us about a career highlight! 

There are too many! Being in a voice booth acting with Christopher Lee; recording a big orchestral score at Air Studios. The most recent highlight that pertains to ReDefine was travelling to India and working directly with the crew in Hyderabad. Seeing firsthand how wonderful everyone there is. So friendly, talented, eager to learn and hard working. A great bunch to hang out and eat biryani with!

4. Advice for anyone wanting to become a Director/Animator?

Be a student of everything. Grow an interest in multiple fields. Inspiration that comes from real life is much more powerful than inspiration that comes from existing animated films. I see so many young people working in animation and all they care about and get their inspiration from is other animated content, which creates a very shallow pool of reference. Try to be versatile so you can more easily adapt to the inevitable changes in technology and trends.

5. What is your favourite movie? 

Back to the Future. Every line in that film has a purpose, there is no fat or superfluous stuff, the editing is magically tight. Everything works so insanely well. I can watch it any time and get sucked again in right away.

6. What about your dream project? 

A feature based on a show we’re currently creating here.

7. What ReDefine studio would you like to work in for a day?

Montreal or Toronto. I lived in Vancouver and love Canada but have never been to Montreal or Toronto so I’d love to spend some time there.

8. Finally, what are 3 words you would use to describe ReDefine?

Daring, ambitious, driven. 

ReDefine is definitely a great place to be. I have enjoyed every single day here, the work is truly rewarding. The teams share a great bond and that’s what makes it a great place to work.

Shilpa Bhanushali Head of Production (Animation)

We have top-of-line professionals who are not only creative, but also fun to work with. It has created a lot of possibilities for reinventing workflows.

François Schneider Global Creative Supervisor, North America

The people who form ReDefine have come from varied experiences and all have the potential to develop and deliver world-class projects.

Viral Thakkar Creative Director and VFX Supervisor India