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Ten Minutes With Chris Wedge

Producer, director and founder of Blue Sky animation studio––movie hits include Rio and the Ice Age series



Chris Wedge grew up with just a tiny black & white TV, but that didn’t stop him from seeing the world in Technicolor. As a founder of leading animation studio Blue Sky, Wedge and his team have turned out groundbreaking hits like Rio, the Ice Age series, and last year’s Peanuts Movie. With a focus on realism and cutting-edge technology, Wedge has put his creative stamp on entertainment as we know it. He lives in Katonah where he raised his two grown children with his wife Jeanne Markel, a painter and graphic designer. 

Did your interest in animation start young?
I grew up in rural upstate New York, so I made a lot of my own fun. I was really into movies and was also vividly entranced by the animated shorts like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The first thing I bought with my own money was a Super 8 camera that cost $300 in 1974. It felt like the future.

What influenced you early on?
I came of age in the ’70s with movies like The Godfather and Jason and the Argonauts. Hitchcock’s Rebecca is still one of the most immersive viewing experiences I’ve ever had. I also loved the avant-garde animation coming out then. I knew I didn’t want to be trained as a Disney animator.

How did you start out?
It was the very beginning of everything. The Apple 2 was just out. Kids were playing Pong. Through my SUNY Purchase roommate’s father, Stan Van Der Beek, I became turned on to computer graphics and started work at MAGI, a computer-animation house. They had developed a way to output and record images on film. We worked on parts of the movie Tron, and people started to take notice.

So you chose to go to Ohio instead of LA? Please explain!
Back then, the real innovation wasn’t taking place in California. I also thought if I was going to be an animator, I would need to learn to program. Ohio State had a beautiful symbiotic program where artists and technologists studied and worked together.

How did Blue Sky get started?
A group of us scraped together our own money and started from scratch. It was a rare, exciting opportunity. We began working steadily in commercials and also started my film Bunny. I spent years developing the character and story, and we also built technology to make the images as realistic as possible. Bunny won the Oscar for Best Animated Short in 1998.

Can you describe what it’s like to win an Oscar?
It was intimidating and thrilling. We were stuck up in the nosebleeds, so by the time I got to the stage, they were already flashing the “wrap it up” sign.

Animation has exploded over the last several years. What has changed the most for you?
The film schools have adopted programs, and computer technology has grown. Today, anyone with a laptop and $50 can be an animator. With technology so advanced and available, the challenge now is to come up with fantastic stories.

How did you come to live in Katonah?
After grad school, my wife and I were looking for a cheap place in the area, and some friends offered the barn on their property. We moved in 1987 and never left. 

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December 2018

Join us to see work by local photographer Curtis Ryan Lew.

Cost: no charge

Where:
Martin House Workspace
69 Westchester Avenue
Pound Ridge, NY  10576
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Sponsor: Martin House Workspace
Telephone: 914-764-3128
Contact Name: Erin Trostle

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Jolly Saint Nick comes to Caramoor to fill the Rosen House with holiday cheer. The little ones will be in for an adventure with I Spy a Santa or Two in the Music Room followed by a 30-minute...

Cost: Children $10, Adults $15

Where:
Rosen House Music Room
Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts
149 Girdle Ridge Rd
Katonah, NY  10536
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Sponsor: Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts
Telephone: 914-232-1252
Website »

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Buddy (Will Ferrell) is different from all of Santa’s other elves. For one thing, he’s “a cotton-headed ninny muggins” when it comes to making toys. For another, he’s...

Cost: 12.00

Where:
Bedford Playhouse
633 OLD POST RD
BEDFORD, CT  10506
View map »


Website »

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Jolly Saint Nick comes to Caramoor to fill the Rosen House with holiday cheer. The little ones will be in for an adventure with I Spy a Santa or Two in the Music Room followed by a 30-minute...

Cost: Children $10, Adults $15

Where:
Rosen House Music Room
Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts
149 Girdle Ridge Rd
Katonah, NY  10536
View map »


Sponsor: Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts
Telephone: 914-232-1252
Website »

More information

The ghosts of Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, klezmer, ragtime, Peruvian folk music, and Hindustani singers hover over the music of Pulitzer Prize-winner JOHN HARBISON, WILLIAM...

Cost: $25, $10 (Students)

Where:
Copland House at Merestead
455 Byram Lake Road
Mount Kisco, NY  10549
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Sponsor: Copland House
Telephone: 914-788-4659
Website »

More information

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

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The Sanctuary Series celebrates the Holiday Season on Sunday afternoon, December 16, with "Bach for the Holidays" featuring keyboardist Anthony Newman performing selected works on piano and organ...

Cost: $15 to $50

Where:
South Salem Presbyterian Church
111 Spring Street
South Salem, NY  10590
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Sponsor: The Sanctuary Series
Telephone: 203-550-5992
Contact Name: Mary Jane Newman
Website »

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On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Making a stamp from a potato is a fun and inexpensive way of turning plain paper into something special. Why not try personalizing your next gift with potato stamp gift wrap? You will have the...

Cost: No Cost

Where:
Mount Kisco Public Library
100 East Main Street
Mount Kisco, NY  10549
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Telephone: 914-666-8041

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Join us as we make SLIME take home with you using glue, baking soda, and other safe ingredients!Ages: 6-12Registration required - please call 914-864-0130Location of event - downstairs in the kids...

Cost: No Cost

Where:
Mount Kisco Public Library
100 East Main Street
Mount Kisco, NY  10549
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Telephone: 914-666-8041

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Vanessa Williams, the multi-platinum recording artist and actress from Chappaqua will headline a holiday benefit concert for San Miguel Academy of Newburgh (SMAN) on December 18 at 7:00 p.m. at...

Cost: $100

Where:
Chappaqua Performing Arts Center
480 Bedford Road
Chappaqua, NY  10514
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Sponsor: Orange Bank & Trust Company

More information

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

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December 19th at 4:00 PM. Open to all ages. Decorate holiday cookies with icing, candies, and other treats! This event is free and no registration is required. Co-sponsored with the NS Recreation...

Cost: Free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Facilitated by Nina Bertolino This program will meet every other Wednesday from 10:30 - 12:30 on the following dates: September 12th & 26th, October 10th & 24th, November 7th & 21st, December 5th...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ruth Keeler Memorial Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

December 22nd at 1:00 PM. Open to all ages. Create ornaments out of popsicle sticks such as popsicle snowflakes and more! Free and no registration required. For questions, you can email the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

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