Another activity at the Message to Man Festival in St. Petersburg was my Master Class - it took place at the St. Petersburg State University of Film and Television, and they totally underestimated my draw. There were seats for about 60-70 people and over 150 showed up! They were laid out on the floor and standing in the back and on the sides. Some people didn't even have a view of my films, but they came just to hear me talk.
I've often wondered why I'm so popular in places like Russia and China, when in the U.S. it's so hard for me to fill a cinema. I asked some of the fans where they saw my work, and all of them claim to have seen my stuff on the internet. So, I may not be making a lot of money in Russia, but I sure have a lot of fans.
That may change in the near future, when all of my shorts and features get released on iTunes in the middle of October. So hopefully I'll soon enjoy the same recognition in the U.S. that I have in Russia.
I was very excited to see my old friend Konstantin Bronzit in St. Petersburg - he's one of the greatest Russian animators. His films "At the Ends of the Earth" and the Oscar-nominated "Lavatory Lovestory" are classics. We got to hang out and swap animation gossip - apparently Yuriy Norshteyn's not going to finish "The Overcoat" and doesn't even want to talk about it.
We did have time for some cultural visits to the giant St. Isaac's Cathedral and the Hermitage - it's called that because czarina Catherine the Great used to go there and became a "hermit", alone with her art. There we saw some very nice Da Vincis, Michelangelos and Rembrandts.
We also visited the Russian Museum. When I was in Moscow a few years ago, I visited the Russian Museum there and was blown away by the pre-Revolutionary historical giant canvasses. They were meant to tell stories from Russian history and they had such a grasp of storytelling and drama, it was like watching "Gone With the Wind" frozen in oil paint.
The two artists I liked the most were Vasily Surikov and Mikhail Vrubel. From their work, I can see where the great animator Alexander Petrov gets his draughtmanship and storytelling skills.
End of Part 2