Drew Neumann

What is your name and your current occupation?
Drew Neumann, Composer/Sound Designer for Film, TV, Animation, Games, and iPad apps. Synthesizer programmer and design consultant.

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I worked as a bus boy and dishwasher at the restaurant where Jimmy Hoffa disappeared. I’ve also worked at Little Caesar’s Pizza, Radio Shack, and sold electronic components at Dow Radio.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
MTV’s Aeon Flux, The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, The Wild Thornberrys, and Aahhh!!! Real Monsters!”

How did you become interested in animation?
What really piqued my interest in animation was the Animation Festival Series hosted by Jean Marsh for PBS back in the 70’s. I’d always loved “cartoons,” (WB, Disney) but that series showcased a variety of artistically interesting shorts that displayed the broad range of possibilities in animation.

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I am from Beverly Hills, Michigan. I went to University Of Michigan for 2 years and transferred to Cal Arts for experimental animation in 1979.

What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
During a series, getting up at 3-6 AM, working until I just can’t. When I am not working on a series, I continue to sketch ideas, and to tune the studio (do repairs and upgrades) because those are things you DON’T want to do during deadlines.

What part of your job do you like best? Why?
Working with producers who can describe what they want for underscore–it makes the job fun and quite a lot smoother going. It usually means that the music review is going to go well. When you have clear music direction or just click with the animator’s intentions, it’s emotionally charging to work through to the final result.

What part of your job do you like least? Why?
The politics. It’s hard enough to be good at what you do, but navigating the unpredictable while trying to do your best job is difficult. I also think that music and the contribution of composers has been devalued drastically over the last 20 years.

What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Finding the next thing after a show is over, and trying not to be working on too many overlapping projects at the same time.

What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Synthesizers, computers, samplers.

In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Many times–it was great working for Klasky Csupo during their peak, I had the pleasure of meeting the director of the original “Yellow Submarine,” I’ve met many interesting voice talents (June Foray, Phil Proctor, Tim Curry). I think it would take a while to list it all. It was great working with Chuck Swenson (producer on Real Monsters) who had done “The Point” years before.

Describe a tough situation you had in life. Any side projects you’re working on you’d like to share details of?
My mom died right as we were starting into production on the Wild Thornberrys Movie. I was shocked, deeply saddened, and honestly in no mental state to launch into scoring a feature film. To top if off, my son had a flu-related seizure within weeks of my mom’s death, and he wound up in the hospital. He was unable to use his right side for a while. It was rough going. I was nearly fired for being “too distracted.”

As for productions in the works, I am scoring “Space Race.” Trailer can be seen here: ( scored last year)

Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Be patient, work hard on your craft. It may take years to break into the business, even if you are the most brilliant animator ever born.
Once you get there, just remember that sleep is for sissies.

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