Patrick McHale

What is your name and your current occupation?

my name is Patrick McHale, and i am currently employed by cartoon network as a freelance writer.

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
i haven’t had too many jobs.  i worked as a babysitter at a jewish community center for a whole room full of kids.  we ate a lot of animal crackers.   but they weren’t the normal kind that come from a circus box.  they were crispier and tasted better.

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
“the marvelous misadventures of flapjack” and “adventure time” were both amazing shows to work on, especially right out of school.  i’m unbelievably lucky.

How did you become interested in animation?
i watched disney’s robin hood about a million times as a kid.  and…. i watched saturday morning cartoons a lot with my dad.  i liked the ewoks cartoon show a lot.  that was probably my favorite show?  from what i remember it had really weird sound design, music and voices.  i’d never seen “star wars” at that point, so it all seemed new and amazing.   i wish they’d release that show on dvd.  all they have now is some amalgamation of episodes cut together into a lame feature film.  luckily i still have a VHS copy of a bunch of episodes i taped off of TV. When i got a little older i really liked ren and stimpy.

i think the moment i decided to try working in animation was when i saw Winsor McCay’s “The Flying House” on the “Classic Arts Showcase” on TV in the middle of the night.   When the house went flying through space i couldn’t believe my eyes.

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from new jersey originally.  i moved to california to go to cal arts, and met a whole lot of people there who later gave me jobs!

What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Well these days, as a freelance writer, i just go to meetings and write stuff.  it’s part time… so… i just put my hours, finish what needs to be written, and then go back to trying to figure out how real life works.  it’s fun being a writer if you’re working with people who like your writing.

What part of your job do you like best? Why?
Umm… writing?  haha.  No, i dunno.

What part of your job do you like least? Why?
when i can’t think of stuff to write.  or… when i have what i think is a really good idea and fail to communicate it properly.   then everyone gives you that sad silence, and you start having doubts about your worth as a human being.

What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
i become sort of depressed if i don’t have seasonal change in weather, so i can’t live in LA.  I live in New York State now, and it’s great!  And i’m lucky enough to still be allowed to work on “adventure time”.   but… it’s hard to say if i’ll be able to find a decent job after the show runs it’s course.

What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
computer and webcam

In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
signe baumane took my wife (jiwook kim) and me under her wing when we went to the woodstock film festival a bunch of years ago.  she’s an amazing person.  she also set me up to meet bruno bozzetto when i went to italy for the world cup… but it didn’t work out.  i’d still love to meet him!

Describe a tough situation you had in life.
i always have a really tough time eating an entire container of yogurt.  when i get close to the bottom of the container my body just starts rejecting it or something, and i gag if i try to eat anymore.  but recently i discovered a yogurt made locally that has the consistency of cream cheese and it’s really great!

Any side projects you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
working on other people’s projects can be pretty creatively draining to me, no matter how much i enjoy working on them.  so recently i’ve tried making some short films again.   just to get into the habit of it.   i also would really love to get into video games.  i used to make some using “Klik-N-Play” during the windows 95 years.  since then i haven’t done much, but i made a couple of very simple, tiny adventure games.  i also make music sometimes, but i don’t have anything online to link to at the moment.  i really want to write an opera with my friend kenny.  i just can’t find the time.

Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
i can definitely tie a cherry stem with my tongue.  i never realized it was a special thing to be able to do until pretty recently.  i can also curl my tongue so that it looks sorta like a potato masher.   and i can roll my belly in various ways.  uh… i guess that’s it.  oh, and i can do a relatively decent “computer voice”.

Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
people say this all the time, but… make good art.    and get people to see it.  also… try to be a likable person.  i think if you do those three things, you’ll be fine.



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