What is your name and your current occupation?
Allen Mezquida Director/Writer/Animator
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I traveled the world as a jazz saxophonist. I got to play with Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Gerry Mulligan amd Brad Mehldau among many others.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Bonus material for the DVD release of Aladdin and Toy Story. A short of mine called “Man’s First Friend” aired on Nickelodeon.
How did you become interested in animation?
That’s like asking how did I get interest in girls. I was powerfully drawn to classic Warner Bros. cartoons and also loved The Pink Panther.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from New York City. I grew up drooling over issues of Mad Magazine but decided to play jazz saxophone. I got sick of being on the road as a musician. That crisis lead to me making a short animation about a bitter jazz saxophonist. I moved to LA to get work using that film as a reel. It worked out.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
I mostly freelance so I’m organizing my storyboards, and moving through a piece in broad strokes. Then it’s polish, polish. polish. I also take a power nap and spend time hustling new work.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I like writing the story and having a client get as excited about it as I am. I then thoroughly enjoy making the design decisions that most clearly convey the story points (layout and camera placement, timing of cuts, necessary background elements, etc,)
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Sometimes the simplest move of a character can take days to animate yet is only on the screen for seconds. It has to be done right but is labor intensive.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Physiologically weathering the slow time between gigs.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Working with Eric Goldberg on a short for the Aladdin DVD was fantastic. He showed me how to see the difference between 1/23 of a second and 1/24. It really does matter.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
The job I just finished. It wasn’t freelance. It was for a production company and it was completely insane. That’s enough about that.
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
I play jazz and make cartoons. That’s about it.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I have recently learned to smile in the face of stupidity while simultaneously my blood is boiling.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
If possible choose jobs that you care deeply about instead of moving from paycheck to paycheck working in a shithouse. You’re welcome.