Monday, October 25, 2010

Necessity is the Mother of Re-Invention

Damn. Talk about a crappy painting. But it'll have to do...

(Sorry for not posting recently but I've been busy, what with scripts, video shoots, pitch bibles, Zombie Babies and the Toronto Zombie walk. I've also learned a lot of things like - if you're making a full-body wearable puppet -- COUNTERBALANCE THE DAMNED THING!!!) Back to the topic...

Mark Mayerson in his excellent blog recently posted a map showing the key locations of animation studios globally. Reader jpilot pointed out that many of the stellar animators are nomads, moving from one production city to another and that once you set down roots to raise a family, your career stagnates. If you can't follow the work, you have to take what you can find in the given market where you're located. But that may not be the case. You can stay in one place and be nomadic at the same time.

I've lived in the Toronto Canada area for all of my life. Over the course of my career, I've had to continuously invent and reinvent myself because of interests, where I want to go career-wise, or out of necessity. (Generally I make a career change every 5 to 7 years. Its always within TV/film, but it involves a different job.) This has been a long and interesting process. But whatever I've done, it's added to the skill pool that I've developed.

I've been a cel painter, FX animator, title designer, airbrush illustrator, freelance TV commercial producer, sound editor, TV series producer, independent TV producer, movie producer, writer, story editor, and now it seems - puppeteer/internet entrepreneur. What a long strange journey it's been.

I was lucky enough in my early days to work for Vlad Goetzelman at Cinera Productions. Cinera was a small boutique animation firm housed in an old candy factory. The stairwells smelled like chocolate. You name it - we did it. Stop motion, 2D, FX and even some rudimentary 3D using a borrowed Cray Computer at the Rochester Institute of Technology. But the best thing about Cinera was Vlad's philosophy - he ran Cinera as if it were a WWII submarine: everyone had to be able to do every job. If something needed to be edited - there was an editor, but you might wind up doing it yourself, because he was helping the cameraman. It was the best training you could ever get - and it's served me well during my career.

Did I ever think I'd be a writer? Nope. My goal in school was to be the best animator in the world. That fizzled pretty fast and I developed new skills as new possibilities arose.

And I haven't abandoned or forgotten anything that I've learned or done in the past. I use that experience every day - on every project. These are exciting times to be in tv/film/media. There are lots of opportunities - but you have to be willing to step outside of your comfort zone and when necessary, reinvent yourself.

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