All Together Now: Terrence Masson and the Coming Age of Collaboration
TM: The revolutionary aspect of it is almost a universal challenge, or should be. Meaning, it's really hard in Hollywood to get an original script produced. Anything that isn't a sequel, a franchise, people keep at arm's length and don't want anything to do with it.
Academia is no different, but is all persuasive. I've been lucky that the vast majority of senior leadership have been supportive of the "revolution", because the benefits are so obvious and so huge. Every industry has people who are entrenched in the way things are, and there's nothing you can do about that. Unfortunately, that small minority take up take up 98% percent of your time.
With students, it is really hard. I try to push them beyond their comfort zone, while telling them it's ok to fail. If you never fail, it means you always took baby steps, and what's the fun in that? There's no way to know your limits until you bend past them. It's just a dialogue of expectations. Be easy and straightforward. Expose them to the best of all media. As available as things are, people stay in their comfort zones, and impose limits of themselves. If you throw them a curveball, show them something else out there that's successful, that they've never heard of, it blows their mind. Your goal is to re-set the level of expectation against the world's excellence.
I totally subscribe to the tiny little blue marble metaphor. Our similarities far outweigh our differences. I've been lucky to travel and speak with students all over the world. The cultural differences are fascinating, and inform creative output. There are so many ways North American thinking is vanilla, and it's because we don't have the exchange of cultures that say, Europe does. We have so much of a "do it like it's been done before" in North America, and that starts in the classroom.
For God's sake, be original. You can go and animate something that no one has ever done before. Why in the world do something that's been done before, when you can do something completely new, that's never been imagined?
I see the best of the best every year. Those things that excite me are those rare jewels that do something different than anything I've seen before. Those original twists are so rare, that they stand out dramatically. I tell my students, "Think big, have large horizons."
ZC: Finally, where do you see the film/VFX/gaming/social media cross-pollination taking us in the near future? Not the integration of those forms, but the way they are taking cues from one another. Some predictions, based on what you're seeing in the industry, and from your students?
TM: If I knew for sure, I'd be a very rich man! The only constant is change. The only thing I know is that things will be very different in 5 years.
More and more, we’re going to see the universal utilization of collaboration. No more silos. Look at Creative Industries, where we're working with more and more departments across the whole university in such a wide variety of areas; journalism, music, architecture. There’s almost no department on campus that isn't eagerly awaiting collaboration. It's not about watering things down to be the same, but rather sticking with core principles, and letting the collaboration enrich the experience, let it excite and engage young people. You do that, you'll change the world overnight. The next ten years is going to go by like a blink.