Profile | Varsha Ravindranath
Govind Kalburgi, a young graduate of Animation from Manipal University is now working for some of the biggest films in the Hollywood Animation category. He has worked with DreamWorks Animation from 2010 to 2016 and was a Production Coordinator for a number of installments of the Madagascar series. He is also worked on 2017’s biggest animated feature films, ‘Boss Baby’.
Varsha R. speaks to Govind to find out what goes on when a young creative mind takes on a hectic process such as the production management of a Hollywood feature film:
VR: You studied animation but went on to becoming a production expert, how did that happen?
GK: My fascination with Animation began with watching Cartoons as a kid, however my passion began when I started experimenting with Powerpoint! When I studied Animation, I started exploring the many disciplines that together help make a movie. When it was time to choose my discipline of expertise, I found it very difficult to make a decision! I didn’t want to do just one thing – I wanted to do everything! So, when an opportunity presented itself to be a part of a Production Management team – a team which helps sees a project through from start to finish – I decided to give it a shot! And that’s where I found my calling – in enabling artists to create their magic!
VR: Was being so young an advantage or otherwise?
GK: Yes, I always saw it as an advantage! My Supervisors might not have seen it that way, though! In all seriousness, it was an advantage to go in with zero baggage. Even my peers found it refreshing working with someone who had no preconceived notions of how things should be done. Together, we found new and efficient ways of doing things.
VR: Your first job was at Dreamworks Animation – one of the biggest names in the industry! Did you get placed there through college, or…?
GK: While I was still studying, DreamWorks was not a possibility even in the wildest of my dreams. One day in my Final year, our Animation lecturer, Prof. Siva Kumar asked me if I would be interested in interviewing for the post of a Production Assistant – and I didn’t even know about the Production Management team at this point! But it was an opportunity to work with DreamWorks and my lecturer was pretty confident that I would be a good fit, so I did some homework on what it was all about! I had an interview a week later, where I was sure that I had done a very poor job! However, HR completely stumped me by sending me an offer letter! I joined the company about three weeks later! And it was a dream run!
VR: What was distinctly Hollywood that you wouldn’t see in the production of an Indian film?
GK: I wouldn’t say distinctly Hollywood, but one thing that was distinctly DreamWorks was the staunch ideology of delivering only the best quality. We would deliver what we believed to be the best images even if it took longer and cost more!
VR: Being a production co-ordinator sounds stressful and quite erratic. But what was the most fun part about your job? 🙂
GK: Hahaha! Yes, it can be a very hectic! But, that’s the challenge! And the most fun part of the job for me is to take out as much of the stress and chaos as possible! I enjoy putting systems or automations in place that eliminate redundant tasks and speed up essential ones. In simple words, “less administrative, more creative” is the goal here.
VR: Which, according to you, is your fondest/ most successful project that you worked on, and why?
GK: It’s hard to pick one! But, I loved working on unconventional projects! Feature films are DreamWorks’ bread and butter, but every now and then there were these oddball Amusement Park ride films or special short films, which always came in with some new or unknown challenges! At one point, we had to quickly set up a pipeline to produce a few episodes of TV! While you won’t get to see these projects released on cinema screens across the globe and there are no rolling credits with your name, these challenges give you the most job satisfaction!
VR: What makes a production coordinator different from a production supervisor?
GK: To put it simply (and this is a very simplified version), the Producer has a vision & budget for his project. He has Production Managers and Supervisors taking care of the schedules for the various departments. And Production Coordinators help uphold and execute those schedules.
That’s a very high level description, but a lot more work is involved to enable that. Some of which are: Production Supervisors track the health of the department and gather performance reviews for artists. Production Coordinators run dailies or rounds where artists get notes or comments on their current work from the creative supervisors. And on and on… we could write a small book on what a Production Management team does!
VR: Any critical advice to young and aspiring production managers?
GK: Management is all about people – value them, listen to them and work with them; and you will move mountains (or pixels if you’re in the CG Industry).
VR: Last but not the least, what was your favorite part about studying in Manipal? 🙂
The time I spent at Manipal was some of the most memorable! We had an exclusive campus for Animation where we were given a lot of freedom to explore and learn the different mediums of Animation. We even painted the walls and made it a true second home! That was the most fun part for me – all the extra curricular activities and workshops and the freedom to dabble in any art form that interested us!
About the Writer
Varsha R. is an MA Sociology student at Manipal Centre for Philosophy and Humanities (MCPH), with a keen interest in films and film clubs.