What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is JEFFREY MUELLER; I am a 2D/3D animator providing many animation and film production services to animation and film production studios globally. I am owner and operator of Magpie Entertainment Company Ltd & Magpie Film Studio Ltd and we are creating a reputation for creative and technical excellence, and the consistent completion of projects on time and within budget. Space Balls the Animated Series & Zigby the Zebra animated series brought Jeffrey Mueller on board as a Lead Storyboard, Concept & Environment Artist and as of late in 2011-2012 Jeffrey has gone onto shows such as television animated series Pound Puppies & Martha Speaks and after those contracts were up Jeffrey was hired to providing CGI special effects and Grip services to the live action television series Warehouse 13 currently airing on Show Case. Jeffrey also has a Rigger credit on the movie “2012”. This is one of a number of Live Action Feature Films & TV Series that he worked on as a Grip, Dolly Grip, Key Grip, Lighting Op, Production Designer & other positions, as well as an Audio, Video & Lighting Technician for Ontario & Vancouver rock shows and theatre productions. At the 2010 OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES Jeffrey worked as Video Board Engineer and was responsible for all broadcasting system operations, building of the control room and operating the systems for the Figure Skating and Short Track Speed skate competitions to live broadcast.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
My most favorite projects were Spaceballs the animated series created and produced by Mel Brooks was my most favorite job due to the comedy nature and the creative parodies to each and every episode making it hard to not laugh every time I read the scripts and draw the stroyboards creating the visual was an added bonus making every day enjoyable. The others were films such as
War creating special lighting for the production, Cats & Dogs, and many others. I was interested in animation started at an early age when I created a comic strip that was based on a frog that was born with a disability. This comic was published in newspapers globally and being 14 years of age at the time I wanted to take my comics to the next level so I started developing an idea for an animated television show. I was a big fan of Bugs Bunny & Road Runner and wanted to bring these characters to life. Not realizing I would become an animator I went through the ranks and education to get the understanding of television broadcast and animation so that I could bring my very idea to life and put smiles on people’s faces.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
Growing up in a small town with a population at the time of 2000 there was not much to offer children and wanted to bring something to my town that would make my parents and residences of my town proud. It was always important to make people smile because laughter is the best medicine. A native of Ontario, Jeffrey Mueller worked his way across the North America networking within film crews in various positions, looking for the perfect fit for his vision and found this in Vancouver, British Columbia where he formed Magpie Entertainment Company Ltd. in 2005, the vehicle to bring the dream into reality.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
A typical day for me is searching out the next animation project and making contacts and possibly being apart of the next best animated series striving to reach your ultimate potential and growing the world of animation and hoping to land a deal with one of my show ideas working with companies and groups creating friendships and colleagues within the world of television and
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
The best part of my job is being the creative person on many levels for all the projects I am involved with, knowing that you are able to make others happy and proud to work with you. The knowledge you receive and respect that is earned is rewarding and will be carried within you for many years to come.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
The part of my job I dislike the least is when you are interviewing potential artists and you have to critique their reels and see the great animation they create but is not necessarily what you are looking for and have to say no to them when they too are looking to gain knowledge. I dislike when you know that you are apart of a great project and you know that the production is coming close to
the day when all is being wrapped and the job comes to an end. The friendships and associates you gain and having to then say goodbye hoping that you will be able to work with all of the artists again one day. Or you would really like to work with a company and they see know fit for you because of style or costs etc.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
The difficulties of being in the animation industry and could very well be with any job is the remarkable talent of individuals competing for the same position and even though you have experience this may not be what companies are looking for.
There are many levels of pay structure and if you are not willing to start every job at the bottom or stick within their budgets you may never get the job and a individual that has least experience will take the job from you. With the economy and the way it is today it is important to not always think about getting the highest dollar for your idea or job position on a show, because with great workcomes rewards and you must be able to work with others as a team member in order to achieve greatness or your personal goals.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Every project needs certain software to create that look that you seek, and some of the software I use daily are Toonboom, XSI, Maya, Flash, Photoshop, Sketchbook Pro, Storyboard Pro, After Effects, Avid, Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro and many others.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
A: In my travels I have had the privilege to work with many talented people, but yet to meet my ultimate goals, winning that Emmy or going to the Oscars or being a part of the Academy Awards.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
I have had many struggles in life from being an abused child to making ketchup soup just to make ends meet. Growing up in a small town that is not too familiar with animation or film production and did not offer any encouragement to you was hard because of the democratic attitudes at times destroys the happiness of who you wish to be in life. Know one knows what one must sacrifice to achieve a career or goal is hard especially when you do not have a support group that could help. You have many negative opinions or get treated like you have an imagination but never realistic in nature. Your parents tell you that this is not a job but a hobby, the old school way of thinking and never allowed to have the chance to be who you wish to be unless you break free from the abusive negative cycle. I struggled much in the way of abuse in my life and needed to create an outlet that took my frustrations and negativity into another world and I figured if I was always crying and hurting because of the abuse I received, I never wanted anyone to feel the way I did inside, so I channeled this through art with the hopes of putting a smile on the faces of others who needed to feel happy and not suffer, doing this was tough because the more your confidence level grew the more negative reaction you received because this career or goal was never looked at as a real job but merely a hobby that would never create a life.
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
Side projects I have are creating sculpted figurines out of clay that I would like to market into the world and making seasonal table center pieces that light up a room. I am a percussionist and take much of my frustrations out on the drums by playing to songs I enjoy.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with yourtongue or metallurgy?
I have a wacky sense of humor and have the ability to express these feelings and ideas on paper and I am able to draw what I see in my head.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
To all artists/animators and students striving to be the next Disney, or Bill Hannah my advise to you is always be open to criticism and always follow your heart and dreams. Never say no to an opportunity but educate yourself in the fields you wish to make a career for yourself. Do not ever leave yourself limited and never be afraid to venture outside of the box. Put yourself into many departments as possible so that there is always a position for you never limiting yourself to one particular job; for e.g. Being just an animator. Take up learning Storyboarding, Design, side line courses to stay up to date on the latest software keeping you current to the every day activity of the animation/film industry. Experience is key and never be afraid to except positions of non-pay because you never know where this will lead and will provide you with the very experience to add to your roster of jobs.