What is your name and your current occupation?
Alan Burnett, Producer, Warner Bros. Animation
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
As a teenager I somtimes worked the check-in desk at a motel my parents owned. I’ve also sold vacuum cleaners. I never thought would admit that.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Batman: The Animated Series. The Ozzie and Drix series. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. My Gizmo Duck” Ducktales” episodes. A few others.
How did you become interested in animation?
I went to film school. I was interested in film, not animation per se.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I am originally from Cleveland, Ohio. I came out to California to go to film school at USC. I fell into animation. I got a job as a page at NBC after college and became an intern within Children’s Programs under Margaret Loesch and Jean MacCurdy, who would later become my bosses when they headed Hanna-Barbera and Warner’s Animation. I was one of those comic book crazed kids when I was young, and all that came out during my internship. NBC had on a version of the Fantastic Four, and I was giving notes on it. I was giving notes on boards by Jack Kirby. When I think about it today, it seems so wrong.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
These days I supervise scripts for all the original DVD’s that come out of Warner Bros. Animation, so some days I’m working on comedies like Scooby, and Tom and Jerry, and other days, action scripts for DC superheroes. Occasionally I’ll write a script myself. There is no typical day. I mostly stay on top of writers, or edit scripts, depending on which deadline is coming up.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I like the variety and I like working with other writers, as well as directors.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
It’s not fun when you have to switch writers, or do a big rewrite yourself. You want everyone to shine. At least I do. I’m a great appreciator of other people’s talents. I like working with people who can teach me something.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
You always wish you had more time, and that artists and directors working on your scripts had more time. Despite the fact that I’m making mini-movies, I’m essentially in television, with television budgets and schedules. I’ve been in the business for a long time, so there is also the problem of repeating yourself.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
A chair, a desk, a computer, a phone.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
My biggest brush with greatness was pitching a project with Steven Spielberg. He was at Universal, so I didn’t have to travel very far for that. I’ve worked with great people who will be future legends I’m sure.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
When I was 12, my father, a steel worker in Ohio, decided to live his dream and bought a motel in Florida. I went from suburban living with lots of friends around to motel living on a busy four-lane highway with no kids around, except my younger sister. My bedroom was room #3. That was a tough adjustment, and explains volumes about my love for television.
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
I am hellbent on writing a novel and feel stupid even saying it.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metalurgy?
I raise prize-winning clams.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
I only know about writing. Writers write. If you talk more about writing than doing it, then that’s not good. If you keep re-writing the same thing over and over, that’s not good too. You should get your work out there to any and all who will read it from friends to prospective agents.