Over 10,000 dollars and 12 cartons containing mostly clothes and books were all Kevin’s belongings when he, at 42, came to China in 2008. He gave up his position as the technical director of Disney with an annual income of 1.5 million yuan and accepted the teaching post of Beijing Film Academy with a yearly income of less than 100,000 yuan and a student’s dormitory as the living place. “My friends said I was crazy. Sometimes even I myself doubted the decision. But I wanted to experience a completely different life in another culture at that time,” said Kevin. Thus Kevin became the first foreign visiting professor of Beijing Film Academy. In 2011, he was granted Beijing Great Wall Friendship Award due to his outstanding contribution to China’s animation education. Later, the Greater China of Walt Disney Company invited him to be the deputy president of its original content department.
Kevin and his wife and daughter at Qianmen. [Photo provided to Qianlong]
Kevin not only achieved great success in his career in China but also met his beautiful wife and they now have a pretty daughter. “My friends then joked ‘you are a genius and how could you predict all these things?’” said Kevin. In the past decade, Kevin has participated in creating one and another cartoon images like the ones in Legend of a Rabbit, Xiao Long Da Gong Fu and Ban Jin Ba Liang, telling authentic Chinese stories with cartoons.
According to Kevin, he must trust and rely on his Chinese team. “Chinese animators are quite capable and it is they who know what the Chinese audiences like and the roots of the Chinese culture,” he added. Thus he has made many good Chinese friends and their sincerity also helped him get rid of loneliness in China.
Kevin left Disney again and started his own animation company - Magic Dumpling and began with a new exploration in 2015. “People working in the animation industry usually have many creative ideas but probably only one tenth of them are lucky enough to hit the screen. Some have to wait many years for the right opportunity and it requires great patience and courage, particularly in the early development phase when you have to pay the cost yourself,” explained Kevin.
Kevin’s daughter was also born in the same year. He operated the company while trying to be a good father. He couldn’t understand why some parents are crazy about showing their babies on moments before but after his daughter was born he got even crazier. The love for his daughter and wife put Kevin, who used to be a carefree man, into a dilemma – should he spend money on dream or save the money to support the family?
“My wife told me that we should let our kid know trials and adventures are worth experiencing in life and if I don’t even have a try for the sake of the family, it won’t be a good example I set up for the kid,” Kevin said with appreciation.
In addition to producing new Chinese animations Kevin also tries creating more immersive entertainment experiences with the help of VR and AR. Meanwhile, Kevin started writing his first picture book in spare time. “As I grow older and the kid grows up, I begin to think more about the next generation and hope to leave them something meaningful,” Kevin remarked.
Kevin and his daughter. [Photo provided to Qianlong]
An illustration of Kevin’s picture book. [Photo provided to Qianlong]
Kevin tries creating more immersive entertainment experiences with the help of VR and AR. [Photo provided to Qianlong]
Kevin gives a lecture at Beijing Film Academy. [Photo provided to Qianlong]
Kevin’s former office in the US. [Photo provided to Qianlong]
The partners team of Magic Dumpling. [Photo provided to Qianlong]