It’s not every day that a student film scores an Oscar nomination. In the case of “Oktapodi,” a two-minute animated short created by a team of six at the Paris-based Gobelins, only one of the crew was an American. Having completed the U.S. coursework for dual degrees in computer graphics and animation at UCLA, Emud Mokhberi applied to Gobelins’ exchange program, crammed a 10-week French course and headed overseas.
For natives, the school has an extremely rigorous admissions policy, requiring candidates to be accomplished artists before they are allowed into the program. “They want to focus on animation. They don’t want to teach people to draw,” explains Mokhberi, who bypassed the hurdle by offering advanced technical experience that could benefit his classmates.
Despite “Oktapodi’s” accolades, Mokhberi decided not to submit the short toward his UCLA degree requirements. “Part of me wanted to keep the thesis there so I would make another film,” says Mokhberi, who is now working at Sony Imageworks.