May 15, 2014 2:03 pm

‘Frozen’ animator inspired by Winnipeg high school teacher

A Disney animator who helped create Olaf the snowman from Frozen, was driven to succeed by a teacher who is now at Winnipeg's Sisler High School.

Disney

WINNIPEG – Frozen pipes, stubbornly cold temperatures … is Winnipeg stuck in Disney’s award-winning movie Frozen?

It may feel that way, but the city actually has another link to the highly acclaimed film. A Winnipeg high school teacher helped kickstart the career of one of the creators of Olaf, the animated snowman who dreams of summer.

Trent Correy, 26, began working at Disney in 2012. He teleconferenced with students at Sisler High School Wednesday.

“I began working at Disney at the end of Wreck-It Ralph,” Correy said. He then did a two-month stint working on Frozen as a crowd animator before he was put on the team creating Olaf, the snowman.

“Olaf was the character I worked on in Frozen. I was lucky enough to be part of this small team, and for whatever reason, I loved working on that character. He was challenging, but I understood him,” Correy told a room full of students.

Jamie Leduc, now a teacher at Sisler, taught Correy at an Ontario high school a decade ago and guided him toward his goal of becoming a Disney animator. Now Leduc teaches the same techniques to Sisler’s up-and-coming creative minds.

A Disney animator who helped create Olaf, the snowman from Frozen, was driven to succeed by a teacher who is now at Winnipeg’s Sisler High School.

Holly Alexandruk

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“Around 10 years ago, I was (Correy’s) hockey coach, in addition to teaching him in the classroom,” Leduc said. “I remember Trent was struggling with a lot of academic classes, and I remember having the conversation with him in Grade 12.

“He said, ‘Mr. Leduc, I’ve been talking with my mom and I want to go into animation. I’m not sure if I should,’ ” Leduc said.

“If this is what you want to do, this is what we have to do,” Leduc told him.

Correy said the 800-plus team creating Frozen didn’t realize they were creating a blockbuster hit until the movie hit theatres. The film won two Academy Awards, for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song (Let It Go).

“It’s pretty amazing, surreal, to be honest, humbling and gratifying. You never think about the awards; I do it just to make cool films — because I love my job.”

Sisler students spent their lunch hour asking the Disney animator questions about his journey into the magical world.

“I asked him what was his influences … and what was his favourite Marvel and Disney movies. His influence that he talked about, Brad Bird, he is a filmmaker I also really enjoyed,” Grade 11 student Moisas Lucero said.

“It makes me feel a lot more comfortable in what I’m doing … like I have the potential to be like that.”

The same sentiment was echoed by Grade 12 student Wesley Finch.

“I found it fun — very educational. I learned how to use animation to get a good job. I feel like I can probably follow a similar career path.”

Correy said the path to becoming a Disney animator began with his love of drawing as a child.

“I watched a lot of Looney Tunes,” he said. “I remember watching a lot of Looney Tunes and I remember drawing the characters a lot. They were a lot of fun.”

In high school, a love for creating “cool movies” took over his love of drawing.

Correy was offered a full scholarship to Algonquin College for volleyball and saw the school offered an animation program. He approached Leduc with the idea, and the rest is history.

“I taught him drawing. I was taking objects, flipping them upside down, and allowing him to look at things properly instead of drawing from his head,” Leduc said.

Correy’s first job in the industry was at Mercury Films. From there he went to Vancouver, where he worked at Sony on The Smurfs movie. In 2012, he landed his dream job at Disney when he was accepted into Disney’s Talent Development Program. Correy was one of three accepted from 2,000 applicants.

“The Disney animation building, it has the hat of fantasia on it, and every morning, no matter how tired I am, Saturdays or Sundays, we’re always working. I have a huge smile walking in the door every day, because it really is a dream job.”

Correy is now in the midst of working on his second full feature Disney production, Big Hero 6, which will be released Nov. 7.

– Reporting by Holly Alexandruk

© Shaw Media, 2014

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