“I have worked as engineer, animator and entrepreneur. but what i really am is a storyteller”
For 17 years Kiran Bhakta Joshi was a Visual Effect Supervisor at the Walt Disney Animation Studios overseeing creative and technical aspects of various animated films. He was responsible for creating a film’s pipeline and milestones, software development, talent identification and hiring, developing and mentoring technical and artistic staff. He began his career at Disney with Beauty and the Beast, which was the first animated film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture category.
Today Joshi is the Founder & CEO of Incessant Rain Studio Inc. – a state-of-the-art animation and visual effects studio in Kathmandu – that he built from ground up and now oversees a staff of 140 artists and technicians producing animation and visual effects content for various Hollywood studios.
Additionally, he was Director and Producer for the documentary Moving Mountains: The Awakening. He has also worked as Executive VFX Producer on international hits such as Chappie, A Million Ways to Die in the West, The Expendables 3, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, The Meg, Red Sparrow, A Series of Unfortunate Events, among many other films.
In this issue of Business 360, Joshi shares the five things that have impacted his work and his life.
An Unconventional Journey
It’s interesting how most people dream about the perfect job in the biggest company but actually do little about it. It’s even more fascinating how a person manages to land the ‘Big Job’ by just throwing his cards on the deck. Kiran Bhakta Joshi certainly had had a unique journey. Joshi started college perusing a Computer Graphic Degree in 1982, a year after IBM launched their first PC. As Joshi explains, “I was figuring out what to major in so when I heard about computers that got me excited. For me computers were something new because nobody was doing it at the moment, and that is what got me into computer graphics.”
Five years after completing his Masters degree in Computer Graphics, Joshi applied for a job at Disney Studios when the whole company was shifting to computer graphic animation from traditional hand drawings. Being at the right place at the right time worked really well for him… but just being there was not the goal. Within a year, Joshi wanted to do more on graphic design. So his job transitioned from computer engineer into the graphic world where he started learning more about the artistic side of the industry. He was able to work his way up the ranks to head of production and artistic supervisor at Disney within a short period.
Au Revoir Mickey Mouse
Initially, people thought Joshi was irrational when he left a 17 year career at Disney to come back to his native country, Nepal. After all, he was at the pinnacle of the animation world. But leaving the illustrious company allowed him to grow and develop both personally and professionally. “I gained personal freedom after leaving Disney,” he explains. “While I was at Disney, I was very precise because this job demanded nothing but perfection. You look at every pixel, you look at every image and every movement. In one second there are 24 frames. But each of the frames you are compositing, you are looking at it with the eye of a perfectionist. And that eye for detail makes you very obsessed. But now, I am able to look at things holistically.” Plus, Joshi always considered himself a storyteller even if he didn’t know it himself. “Personally I have grown a lot by doing this and it has allowed me to travel which is something I would have never been able to do if I had stayed on at Disney,” says Joshi.
When you quiz Joshi as to who he really is – an animator, engineer or entrepreneur, he finds himself closest to being a storyteller. The passion to search for the most unique stories was one of the reasons he decided to come back to Nepal. “Western stories based on folklores and mythology have been exhausted but our Eastern stories, our Nepali stories are still unexplored,” he elaborates.
You definitely do not get ideas nor stories by staying in front of a laptop. You need to go out there and find it. And that’s what Joshi did September last year. He packed his bags and set out to travel for the rest of 2017. “To be honest I do not have a home because I am constantly travelling. And when I am travelling, I am constantly interacting with the locals and learning about diverse cultures,” he explains.
Mental and Physical Health
Focus on health is a responsibility for working people especially for those with a penchant for perfection. Joshi is no different. He is a meditation and Vipasana practitioner. Joshi understands the importance of physical and mental fitness. “I’ve even started eating properly and exercising on a regular basis so much so that it has become an integral part of my life. Working on my mental and physical fitness has helped me think differently. I don’t carry stress and negative energy anymore,” he shares.
He elaborates, “I have become much more calm and have better conversations with my artists and staff and that has made them much more productive because they can communicate with me anytime without hesitation,” he illustrates.
Family and Friends
After the lights are shut off at the office… Joshi heads back to an empty apartment in Naxal. For the person he is and the job that he is committed to, this sacrifice has become an integral part of his life. Joshi explains, “I talk about freedom, but on the flipside I always have this guilt within me. When I am travelling, I don’t get to see my parents and daughter for months on end. I am not with my family most of the time so that guilt of not being able to spend enough time is always there. So the amount of time I spend with them becomes very, very important for me and for them. When I visit my daughter for the weekend after months of not seeing her, it becomes very special.”
He muses, “But when you think about it; at the end of the day, it’s your family and friends that count the most. You travel, explore, look for great stories ideas and work hard but then if you do not get to share it with your friends and families, it amounts to nothing. Relationships become the pillars in your life,” claims Joshi. The constant busy schedule and long distance from friends and family has certainly made Kiran Bhakta Joshi a stronger character in both his professional and personal life.