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In Sony Pictures Animation’s The Star (in theaters now), a small but brave donkey named Bo yearns for a life beyond his daily grind at the village mill. One day he finds the courage to break free, and finally goes on the adventure of his dreams. On his journey, he teams up with Ruth, a loveable sheep who has lost her flock and Dave, a dove with lofty aspirations. Along with three wisecracking camels and some eccentric stable animals, Bo and his new friends follow the Star and become accidental heroes in the greatest story ever told – the first Christmas.

We had a chance to interview Story Artist Arturo “Art” Hernandez about working on the film.

Luis Lecca: How do you approach this type of film, because it has also kind of like a religious storyline in the background, was the approach different than others?

Arturo “Art” Hernandez: I would say more than anything that we had to be always cognizant and aware of the respect that the subject matter needed to have. Aside from that as far as storytelling, that didn’t change, we approached it the same way in that there’s still ideas about story that still have to be first and foremost, you have to really figure out who your protagonist is, there are all of the classic storytelling things that we go through as we’re going through the process of storyboarding, all of those absolutely stay the same. But above all we were always very cognizant of the respect that we had to have for the material that we were working with.

Q: But is there one character, in particular, you can’t wait for the general public to look at?

Arturo “Art” Hernandez: Oh, that would have to be Dave. Dave the Dove. He was a lot of fun. Honestly, if we had known early on, because with this process when we’re starting the storyboarding process, we don’t know who the cast is going to be, we’re still figuring a lot of that out. We have in mind what the personality is but we don’t know yet who’s going to voice the character and if we had known early on, the things that we would have been able to do with that character would have been amazing. Even greater, would have brought it to a whole other level, but I’m still thrilled with the way he turned out. Keegan-Michael Key did an amazing job with Dave and he’s just a lot of fun. So he’s my favorite easily.

Q: What guidance and advice would you give an up and comer?

Arturo “Art” Hernandez: An up and comer, wow. I’d say the biggest thing is not to give up. There are the technical parts of it, which is you know, especially for a story artist is … takes lots of figure drawing, lots of life drawing, take a sketchbook with you everywhere, there’s that part of it but then there’s the psychological part, which is you’re going to get rejected a lot, you’re going to have people give you weird criticism and you have to have a thick skin. If you can develop that early, the earlier the better because the bottom line is once you’re on the job and in a studio at a chair drawing, especially for a story artist, you’re throwing out your drawings more often than not. It’s a lot of trial and error and there are scenes that may not work and you’re going to have to start all over and so on any giving project we’re talking about thousands of drawings that will never see the light of day and it’s not that they were wrong it’s just the process to discover the true story, where we want to be in the story. So I would say more than anything is not to give up, not to be discouraged and to really just do everything you can to land that job because again there is nothing better than being able to have your job be something that you love doing.

You can listen to the interview below: