What is your name?
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I’ve never had as much fun creating & producing my own pilots. “Fred Again” for WB Online, and “Bagboy!” for Cartoon Network were both a total gas. I’d do more episodes in a heartbeat. It was an honor to work on “The Simpsons” for nearly 18 years. Again, tons of fun to work on, and the crew was a blast to work with.
How did you become interested in animation?
Ever since I was little, I’ve always loved it. I made many stop-motion films in grade school. Once I saw the “Dragon’s Lair” arcade game in 1983, I realized that animation didn’t have to be just for kids. That was the moment — it was gung-ho ever since.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from a suburb of Boston, and went to Rhode Island School of Design in the film/video/animation program. I came to California (first time ever on an airplane), and searched for an entry-level job for a few months. After blanketing the town with resumes and copies of my student film, I had to work on the loading dock of a Toys R Us while waiting for a break. I took a test for “The Simpsons” in the background cleanup dept., and got the gig. Woo hoo!
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Depends on the gig. Most primetime shows (like “Simpsons” or “Futurama”) have you thumbnailing & boarding nearly all day. With premise based shows like “Phineas & Ferb”, there’s a lot of joke-writing, story wrangling, and meetings in addition to lots of drawing. And we get to crack each other up with funny drawings & stupid jokes.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
The aforementioned funny drawings & stupid jokes. Also the legion of awesome friends I’ve made in this industry over the years.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Being told your brilliant idea doesn’t work, or your beautiful drawing must be redrawn. Assuaging the artistic ego is a constant battle.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Thinking you are not good enough to do what you do, even though you hear nothing to back it up. It’s the dark side of the artistic ego.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
The holy trinity of Wacom, StoryboardPro, and Photoshop.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I attended the beer-soaked crew screening of “Stimpy’s Invention” at the original Spumco studio. At various animation parties, I rubbed elbows with John Lassiter, Matt Groening, Seth MacFarlane, Don Bluth, etc. Attending “Simpsons” script readings were always a highlight.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
I imagine this question will show the public our human side. Who we are and what drives us… or makes us tick. Life isn’t all mallets and anvils for us.
Being bullied through nearly all of my public school years was very tough, but I could not stop being the geeky, creative person that I am at my core. Honoring the geek in me has worked out very well in the long run.
Any side projects you’re working on you’d like to share details of?
Tons of ’em! My YouTube channel has all my pilots, short films, and web series: http://www.youtube.com/user/BigMathot My wife & I run Horrible Movie Night, a live movie riffing event in Los Angeles that’s a combination of audience participation, improv comedy, and really bad films: www.horriblemovienight.com
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Be flexible, be versatile, and be damned good at what you do. And network! Your stable of contacts & friends will be your most important asset in getting you work in the future.