What is your name and your current occupation?
Keith Baxter. Story Artist for Reel Fx
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Janitor at a department store and lead guitarist for an 80’s power pop band.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Songs for Flushed Away. Theme song for The Mask TV series. Story for Greedy Grizzly section of Scrambled Ink, Sidekick Shorts project for Dreamworks which was never completed, especially the Over The Hedge Love Story mashup.
How did you become interested in animation?
Looney Tunes and Disney movies from when I was a kid and the Preston Blair books.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
Prince George BC Canada. I moved to the US to attend the Guitar Institute of Technology. After I graduated I played in a rock band for a few years, but was also interested in animation. I took Glenn Villppu’s life drawing class. He told me I was good enough to get a job in animation. The next day I called up Filmation, they had me do a test, then hired gave me to do character designs on Filmation’s Ghostbusters. From there I went to DIC and did character designs for Slimer and the Real Ghostbusters. My boss was Art Vitello who gave me my first chance to animate, my first chance to write and my first chance to direct.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
I drive an hour to work and start drawing at 8:00 and stop when my hand hurts too much to hold a stylus, usually 6:00 or 7:00. Doing feature story is the most mentally taxing job I’ve ever done. But the people I get to work with are spectacularly talented and it’s very rewarding to complete a sequence and feel like it’s going to entertain a lot of people.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
It’s always the people. It’s a joy to work with a boss and crew that you really click with. The most enjoyable productions I’ve been a part of were Tiny Toon Adventures, Taz-mania, Flushed Away.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Working with the wrong boss and crew. see above.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
I don’t like the process of looking for work. I was spoiled working for 7 years straight at WB, then 6 at Disney and 5 at Dreamworks, I never got accustomed to looking for work. I still don’t have a website, don’t really have a portfolio- when I go look for work, I just grab the top 4 or 5 inches from a pile of storyboards that continue to accumulate and show those.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Photoshop, Cintiq. When I’m doing music ProTools. Over the years I’ve used After Effects, Toon Boom, Maya, Premiere, Final Cut
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I’ve met so many people I consider great at what they do, but if I have to narrow it down to a handful then I’d go with James Baxter, Glen Villppu, Friz Freling, Chuck Jones, Frank Welker, Maurice Noble
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
I live in California and draw pictures and write music for a living. What do I have to complain about?
Any side projects you’re working on you’d like to share details of?
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?Lord loves a workin’ man; don’t trust whitey, see a doctor and get rid of it.