What is your name?
What would you say has been your primary job in animation?
Directing/ Timing Direction/Storyboard Artist for Warner Bros., Cartoon Network, Disney, and many others.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I ran the shipping department for my father’s publishing company. I cleaned up the Dunkin Donuts. I checked in medical periodicals in the University health/science library. I was a courtroom artist. I was a radio dj. I was an editorial cartoonist.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I won an EMMY for directing on “Pinky and the Brain”, I was nominated for an EMMY for directing on “Animaniacs”. I wrote and boarded about a dozen gags that made it into “Space Jam”. I probably had the most fun directing “Johnny Bravo”.
How did you become interested in animation?
When i was ten, I saw “Porky in Wackyland”. That gave me the animation bug.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I was born in Sheboygan WI, and grew up through high school in New Richmond WI. After high school I went to The Kubert School in New Jersey for a year and I studied under former Disney animator Milt Neil. After that I went to the University of Minnesota in Duluth were as a senior in the graphic design major you had to do an internship at an ad agency. One day a sales rep for Bajus-Jones Film Corp. came by and dropped off their demo reel. I cold-called them an talked my way into an interview. Owner Mike Jones liked by portfolio and had me do an inbetweening test, while he watched over my shoulder! He liked that I could inbetween on paper with a fountain pen without doing pencil roughs and he hired me to be former Terrytoons animator Al Chiarito ‘s assitant. Al was a great teacher.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Right now I am the Supervising Timing Director for “The Looney Tunes Show” and “Scooby-Doo Mystery Incorporated”. My work is divided between doing timing at home on a table made from an Indian palace door (kinda cool) and working at Warner Bros. at the Burbank ranch going over the other timers’ work and taking care of retakes. The thrill is always when the show is done and on the air and it doesn’t suck too much.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
Working on funny stuff. As a teenager in Wisconsin my best friend and I would talk endlessly about getting the chance to work on movies and tv, all the while in the back of my head I never thought it would ever actually happen. Whenever i get frustrated I try to remind myself that a lot of people would love to be doing what I do, so just get back to it. I have also been lucky enough to work with a lot of really talented people
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
The hours can get kinda gruesome. While its not “the Deadliest Catch”, you can get some painful papercuts. Show business is not a stable business, just realize that when you sign up for this trip and the times you get fired or laid off without any notice or good reason will suck just as much as it would in any other job.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Gettin’ woken up by phone calls at 3am to rush into the hospital to do emergency arterial bipass surgery. Oh, wait that’s not it. I once told producer Jed Spingarn that there were thousands of tiny animals constantly cleaning his eyeballs, that was hard to watch. My hand tends to get sore after 16 hours of work. Insert your own double on entendre here. Firing people and getting fired or laid off is never fun.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Cintiq and laptop. I have a very powerful pencil sharpener. Don’t mess with the sharpener, okay. I use a manual can opener to gain access to food.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I’ve met Bob Clampet and his amazing hair at the Minneapolis Comic-con in the late 70’s. I’ve met Virgil Ross, Chuck Jones,
Ollie Johnson, Frank Thomas, Bill Hanna, Joe Barbara, and several other greats of animation. John K once asked me why i would work for the big studios? “Mostly for the money, mostly”, was all I could come up with.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
I had to sue my kid’s school district a couple of times. That was annoying. Someone slashed the tire of my Jeep Wrangler in the Galleria Parking garage when I was directing “Pinky and the Brain”. It took an hour and fifteen minutes for AAA to show up. Oh yeah, I got shot at outside of Film Roman in 1994. They missed, but left a hole in the window behind me. I was told the woman who worked in that office refused to enter it again.
Any side projects you’re working on you’d like to share details of?
I’ve written a screenplay which every producer who reads it says it makes them laugh out loud followed by a list of reasons why they aren’t going to buy it.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Work hard. Learn why things are funny, and i don’t mean funny just to you, but funny to everybody. Don’t just study animation, study as many things as you can. A good understanding of music can go a long way. Make your own animation, its fairly easy to do on your own now. You learn more my doing than anything else.
I believe they’re called Hemi sharpeners… 😉