We had the good fortune of connecting with Paola Lecler and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Paola, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I moved to Los Angeles from Italy in the late ’90s to work at the then brand new DreamWorks Animation studio.

I think what drew me to the animation field is how badly I wanted to grow up without letting go of my childhood memories, of that sense of magic that you feel in everything when you are a child. The feeling understandably grew bigger when I moved here by myself and far from my country.

Going backwards through the years, I remember waiting with anticipation for the new Disney movies to come out in Italy, at a time when only one new feature was produced every couple of years and not many other big studios were giving us more.

I thought they were as magic and precious as the fairy-tales that my grandmother and my aunt used to tell us before bed, when my sister and I were still little kids and spent our summers at their house on the Italian Riviera.
And the ones our parents shared with us, an array of traditional tales and fantastic novels along with their personal stories from the war that disrupted their own childhood. Many sad stories, and yet still a magic time.

And further back, when I was 4 years old there came my own stories, the ones I invented, that I loudly and proudly recited sitting on top of the kitchen table as it was a stage, and that my parents for a while decided to write down on a bright blue notebook (it must be somewhere…)

It is easy to lose your “child eyes” growing up, but I wanted to preserve them, to keep open that door to fantasy and freedom while becoming more logic and mature (just a little bit), studying traditional arts at first, then theater… until the day I realized that those movies in animation were actually “made” somewhere and that they could be my life career if I wanted to pursuit it.

And so I did, and every time I start a new project I try hard to keep all this still alive with me.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I love how our work is heavily based on Illustration. We create new designs for every project and sometimes different ones for every story in the same project. I collaborate with very talented children book’s illustrators and they bring such a fuller, richer sense of style to complement our animation.

Makes me tremendously happy when I’m able to illustrate some of the shots myself. It’s not always easy to find the time, in a small company one has to wear many hats so I find myself reserving the quiet of the night for my drawing. Sometimes I just forgot to sleep…

With my clients I like to create not just a professional but also a more human relationship, I want to hear their ideas and see what inspires them before start any planning. I always ask them to show me pictures, movies, anything they feel attracted to in relation to their projects, and I will then try to see things through their eyes.
Of course, I will bring my experience to the table in the end, but where is the fun if I was just trying to impose my vision? I always start from the principle that one has to “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” to really understand.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I always loved how diverse is this city. In one day you can go from the ocean to the mountains, from the poshest to the most traditional areas. You can visit Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Koreatown, Little India… and pretend you traveled to Asia for a day!

Before the lockdown friends and family used to come to visit often, and I hope we will be able to do it again soon. The first time they all usually ask to go to Hollywood and Santa Monica right away, and they are always surprised at how big is Los Angeles.

Personally, I like to bring them to experience walking Downtown as much as possible to really feel the city. One of my favorite places to walk with them lately was the Art District, where we can go “mural haunting”. And being Italian, of course, to a culinary tour to discover how many different restaurants there are, especially the maybe small and not fancy but most authentic ones!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
So many people have supported, encouraged, and inspired me along the way that I won’t know where to start…

But I’d like to mention the group of artists I work with on the studio’s projects, they are really great and they all bring so much experience, skills, creativity, and great ideas to the projects we work on at Secret Plan Studios. I feel really honored I have the opportunity to share my passion with them!

Website: www.secretplanstudios.com

Image Credits
1) Paola Lecler – portrait 2) Secret plan Studios – Logo 3) The Story of God – Mayan 4) The story of God – Egyptian 5) EF – Korean Folktale: Paola Lecler design 6) Rotoloni Regina, Message in a roll – Advertisement 7) Food: Facts or Fiction – Beer Witch: Alina Chau design 8) EF – African Folktale: Kent Culotta design 9) Good Trouble – Opening sequence: Paola&Claudia Lecler design

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