What is your name and your current occupation?
Ron Brewer. Director.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I was a drug runner. Or should I say a delivery boy and stock clerk in a class 1 drug vault for a completely legitimate pharmaceutical warehouse. We supplied all the pharmacies and hospitals in the San Diego area. I was involved in two armed robberies there. The first was a gang from LA that wore Halloween masks. They had shotguns and AR15s. We were made to lie on the floor and then locked in the vault. The second time was a gang from East LA. I was chased down the street by a guy with a handgun. There was no where to run to. We were tied up with duct tape. Curious that I would find the nerves needed to get through these trials to be a good tension test, to be a good prerequisite to my animation career. Cartoons is war!
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I would have to say the Pink Panthers I was a part of. I directed 28 shorts for Pink Panther and Pals at Rubicon Studios LA. One of which won four 2011 KidScreen Awards including Best series, Best Series Viewers Choice, and viewers choice for Best Music –David Ricard and Best Directing –Me. Kerry Valentine produced, Ceci Aranovich did the design, Ryan Green and I did boards, Rob Sanders the sfx. Have a look!
The entire crew for the whole series was just awesome. The Pink Panthers are pure cartoons because of the absence of dialogue. Such a challenge to get the message across, stay true to the originals and hopefully be funny. You can find them on youtube or itunes. Then I got to direct “A Very Pink Christmas” a Pink Panther special in the classic style. It’s the best thing I’ve done to date. Kerry Valentine producing, Ceci Aranovich design, David Ricard music, Rob Sanders sfx. A story that really came together thanks to so many talented people who I am very proud to have worked with. If you’re a Pink Panther fan or could just use a smile, go see it here. I had the pleasure of traveling to the Philippines to meet the animation crew. Incredible the small army one of these things takes to complete. This show was also for Rubicon Studios LA., Manila and Amman. Unfortunately not many people saw it when it aired last year 2011. No publicity. You my insider friends know how that can go. But it really is a good little show and maybe it will pick up speed as the Christmas’s roll by. Look out Rudolph.
How did you become interested in animation?
I loved watching Saturday morning cartoons like the rest of you did. When I was a kid I had this idea to make animated rock videos. So I talked my brother into playing the guitar so I could do his videos. I made a light disk and camera stand and then I made some pretty horrible little animations. But the ideas remained and the passion remains and I am not done yet. That which brought me here still drives me.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I grew up in San Diego. My dad was a bigwig architect there. I graduated a computer course on basic computer competency really, both PC and Mac. The internet had just begun. Plus I learned a pliable skill –book keeping. From there I answered an ad for “Computer Artist” and got the job. It was the folks coloring the old black and white movies and everything else they could get their hands on. Some of you may remember. Everyone hated us. But the cool thing was they had an animation department. Barry Sandrew was doing the software down there and came up with a program that could storyboard and animate. You could only put 24 frames on a huge floppy disk and when you hit save you could go get a coffee, have a sandwich, walk your dog… it took a while. But it was pretty much the forerunner to what Toon Boom products look like today. (So crazy I have come full circle with electronic animation software) I bugged the hell out of them until they gave me my first jobs in animation including directing the animation for a season of “The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” for FOX, and also Foreign Production Supervisor in Mexico on another show. “Duckman” season four storyboard revisionist was my first “Hollywood” gig. And now I can’t wait to see what’s next. I would like to break into feature length film.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Long crazy days are the norm. Our lives get sort of put on hold as we work some long hours. Most of the time it’s worth it.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I like building and telling the story the best. Writing and boarding. That’s the reason I like directing. I also like the collaboration between other creative types. There are so many aspects to the different arts that go into it and differences that other artists bring to it. I mean that in the most positive way. Putting together something that really works always makes my loin tingle.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
This is without a doubt the best job in the world. Until you slap a deadline on it right? Limitations kill all the fun. I suppose it’s a necessary evil though isn’t it?
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
I use Storyboard Pro the most because boarding is the biggest chunk of the pie. The blueprint. But I also use pencil and paper which has been around for a while, look it up. I have a Cintiq. I use Photoshop for noting or approving work, fixes. I also use Sketchbook Pro for ideas, its closer to a pencil. Final Cut Pro for editing, timing. Final Draft for writing. I also designed from scratch and maintain my own website so I use Dreamweaver for that. I’m ok at Flash as well plus miscellaneous others.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Just the sheer amount of time it all takes. Its never fast enough and its never finished. Just done. And if you really care about what you’re making like I do, then you put in the hours.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I would have to say hell yes. If you’re in the business you know there are a lot of famous folks walking around. And the caliber of people one gets to work with on a daily basis means that after a while “awesome” is just expected. It’s only when something falls below the normal bar that we discuss sometimes. It’s impossible to name them all because there are so many areas of the art. But I think if you help others, teach, explain and pass on, you are one of the great ones.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
After a long illness, my mom passed away from pancreatic cancer. She died in my arms. It was the most horrifying and the most beautiful experience of my life.
Any side projects you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
Yes! I have some interest in an animated feature I am writing. And I am always looking for the next opportunity.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
Well to anybody who is not in the business, writing a screenplay is an unusual hobby. But I like to travel and get outdoors.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business? Probably the same as others would say. Watch, listen, learn but most importantly ask questions. Find out why people do things. I think I survive not because I’m the most awesome artist around, or the most incredible board artist around because there are so many people better than me at any one thing. But I survive because I can see the big picture and understand WHY I do things the way I do. I may not be the best artist but I know WHAT to draw and WHY. Find out why things work and you will find the keys to the kingdom. (I think magic kingdom is copyrighted or something but you get the idea.)