Mark Mayerson. I’m currently the coordinator of the Bachelor of Animation program at Sheridan College in Ontario, Canada.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I was a messenger, photocopier and proofreader for a corporate law firm on Wall St.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I worked on a series of TV specials for HBO and PBS produced by Michael Sporn. One of them was Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and I animated about a quarter of the film. I was an animator on Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, which was the first TV series to include cgi characters. I created a TV series called Monster By Mistake and worked on it as a director, writer and producer.
I grew up in New York City in the 1950s and ’60s and TV there was full of old animated cartoons. I was immersed in the stuff.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
At Queens College, I met Bob Lusk on the student paper. He animated as a hobby and that inspired me to try it. Bob graduated before me and got a job at a studio called Teletactics and let me know that they were looking to hire. At the time, I was a gopher for a small commercials studio making $125 a week. The animation studio was offering $135 and it looked like a lot more fun.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
I teach classes in drawn animation in the second year of the program. I mentor about 10 4th year students who are making individual films. I fill out paperwork and troubleshoot things for students with problems.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
Helping students improve their work is the most rewarding.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Meetings and paperwork. They’re boring.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Struggling for self-expression in a commercial art. Putting up with clients and supervisors who know less than you do but who
have control over your work.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Prior to teaching, I spent 20 years in computer animation. My package was Houdini, from Side Effects Software. I also used Prisms and Wavefront. As an instructor, I use Flipbook and Premiere.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I’ve met Otto Messmer, creator of Felix the Cat; Chuck Jones; Bob Clampett; Walter Lantz; and Al Eugster, who animated on Snow White and Gulliver’s Travels.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Having to relocate twice in order to stay employed in animation. Turning down opportunities once I was married as my wife
did not want to relocate. Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of? I’ve been sculpting for about 2 years. It’s faster than animation and I only have to satisfy myself, nobody else. I’ve been blogging about the art and business of animation for over 5 years.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Short of writing a book of advice, the best thing I can say is work hard, keep your sense of humor, and know when you’re being taken advantage of.