Success Interview: Peter Ramsey, Feature Film Director

 As a child, Peter Ramsey loved animation and movies. With his family’s encouragement, he started creating his own masterpieces when he was 3-years old.

“My parents taught me to think for myself and not to set limits on what I could do,” Ramsey said. “They were really good about supporting us in whatever we were interested in.”

Through years of study, practice, and dedication Ramsey began his career as a storyboard artist. He honed his talents while working on live-action feature films such as “Minority Report,” “A.I. Artificial Intelligence,” “Cast Away”, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “Fight Club,” “Men in Black,” “Independence Day,” and “Batman Forever.”

While working on these films, Ramsey realized that he wanted to be a director. He served as Second Unit Director on live-action feature films including “Godzilla,” “Tank Girl,” “Higher Learning,” and “Poetic Justice.” After directing the hit DreamWorks Halloween special, “Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space,”  Ramsey got his big break – he was offered the opportunity to direct his first feature film Rise of the Guardians.” 

In this interview, Ramsey shared his thoughts on creativity, art, and the importance of hard work.

Mocha Man Style: How do you nurture your creativity?

Peter Ramsey: I’ve always been a big reader, and I’ve spent a lot of time studying art, films, and filmmakers, so I feel like I have a huge amount of inspiration to draw from.  I also have a lot of creative friends that I share ideas with. I also keep a journal…sort of. It allows me to get some perspective and clarity on the stuff rattling around in my head. I do it as often as I can.

MMS: Many people believe they aren’t creative. How can they draw out their inner artist?

Ramsey: They have to get over the fear of criticism, especially from themselves, and realize that you can do anything if you just stick to it.  It may take time and effort, but so does anything worth doing. Not giving up is the key to success.

MMS: Who were some of your mentors? How did they impact your life?

Ramsey: I’d have to count my parents of course. They taught me to think for myself and not to set limits on what I could do. I had several really influential teachers in school. In my professional life, I’ve had a few unofficial mentors – Todd Hallowell and Francis Ford Coppola to name two. Virtually every good director I’ve worked for has felt like a mentor to me.

MMS: How do you define success?

Ramsey: Success is being able to live a decent life while doing work that you truly enjoy and has meaning to you.

MMS: What motivates you to keep going when things are difficult?

Ramsey: I try to think of how lucky I’ve been, and of how much harder others have had it. I also remind myself that the biggest steps I’ve taken happened because I had something in me that I and others believed in. Therefore, I keep believing that I can move forward.

MMS: What is your greatest achievement?

Ramsey: My family and my kids. They’re fantastic.

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