Sony Pictures Entertainment, the Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center (BHERC) and Sony Animation recently held a special event to promote and share “Arthur Christmas” with inner-city students.

The young people got an opportunity to see a part of the film, tour the animation studio, and talk with Black animators about the art of making animation. The Sony Pictures Animation campus hosted the event under the direction of Stacey Alphonso, manager of field publicity and promotions at Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Alphonso said, “When I saw ‘Arthur Christmas’ and I saw the diversity that was in there with the elves, it was such a different experience than what we’re used to from the Christmas scene, and so I thought this would be a really good opportunity to bring our community in and open the doors of Sony so that they could see what the animation was like.”

She continued, “It was important for me also to make sure the people who are teaching them about it looked like us. So that the kids can look at it and say, ‘you know this is something I can look at as an option that maybe I didn’t think about before.’”

The students got an opportunity to see 35 minutes of the holiday film and also learned firsthand from the animators themselves about how the work is done.

Stereographer and technical animation supervisor Corey Turner and stereo camera operator Von Williams walked them through the process of 3-D animation.

Both Turner and Williams are African Americans who’ve worked in the film industry for some time and have worked on some of Hollywood’s most profitable films such as Michael Bay’s “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” and Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland,” “Men in Black,” and many more.

It was a real treat for the young people as well as adults to see Turner and Williams explaining their jobs regarding the film, and how intricate the process is. But they were both careful to note that it all started with a desire, and although the two of them took different routes to where they are today, passion was the driving force.

Turner, who didn’t go to college, said he always knew what he wanted to do and his mother supported him. So he jumped right in, often learning on the job, and started in television news as a graphic artist. Turner said he looked forward to the event because “it’s a group of kids and the energy is just different. They’re excited, and they want to see and they want to learn.”

Williams took the more traditional route, by attending college. He now also teaches computer animation at Santa Monica City College where he’s introducing students to art as a career.

“That’s the thing for me, trying to get other young kids into the industry and get them excited about it, ” said Williams.

Billie J. Greene, youth director for BHERC said this was the first time the organization had partnered with Sony in this type of event. She said the goal is to mentor young people and get them into different studio internship programs.

BHERC sponsors a Youth Film Festival, and Greene said a number of participants have expressed an interest in learning more about animation and 3-D production.

The next Youth Film Festival is scheduled for October 2012, and applications will be available online at www.BHERC.org in February or March for students who are interested in entering their films.