What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Massimiliano Lucania and I’m a storyboard artist, at the moment I’m working for the Irish animation studio Brown Bag Films on season two of the Disney show “Doc McStuffins” .
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Actually, to be honest, I never had “crazy” jobs before getting into animation; I’ve always been lucky enough to work in fields where I get to draw: my very first job was as a comic book artist for Disney Co. Italy, then I’ve been working as a concept designer for video games, I did some illustration, and finally, six years ago, I started doing storyboards for animation, for several animation studios, both in my country, Italy, and abroad. So, every job I did, it was about drawing. Beside storyboarding, sometimes I also do a bit of character design.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I can say that storyboarding last year on season two of “Octonauts” was fun and challenging at the same time; it’s a preschool type of show, but it still has really a lot of action sequences. It was fun but sometimes it required a lot of thoughts in keeping everything under control in terms of composition and action. I think it’s a very nice show and I’m proud of it.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from the Milan area in Italy. Like almost everyone working in animation, I always loved watching cartoons since I was very little; it was the late 70s and early 80s and like a lot of people of my generation here in Italy, I grew up with a lot of Japanese anime and American cartoons ( stuff like Tom and Jerry and Hanna and Barbera). Actually, the first movie I ever saw in a movie theatre was a re-issue of Snow white and the Seven Dwarfs, I think I was three. Another thing I really enjoyed since a very young age was drawing. I remember that when I was little I was drawing every time I had a chance. So, at a certain point, I think I was about thirteen years old, it was the late 80s-early 90s and there were Roger Rabbit and the Little Mermaid, I thought I could put the two things together, my passion for animation and my passion for drawing, so I went to the high school of visual arts hoping someday I would have been able to work in this field. My parents thought I was serious about this passion and they supported me.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
I try to wake up as early as I can ( definitely I’m not a morning person), which is generally around 8.30 A.M. Since I work from home I don’t have to commute to get to work, so the time I wake up may vary from day to day. I turn my computer on, check emails and then I start with my daily duties. After 30 minutes or so I’m ready for my first cup of coffee of the day. In the last few weeks I’ve been also taking breaks for going out running from 12.00 AM to 1 PM. After that, I get home, take a shower, have lunch, around 2.00 PM I get back to work until evening. Generally I try to estimate how many pages of script I should do everyday to meet my deadlines, so my working day ends when I get that amount of work done.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
In storyboarding, I like the fact that I have the chance to actually create the visual storytelling of the story; I like the fact that I can decide which is the best way to tell a story ( obviously, from my point of view) using the language of cinema. That’s what I like best.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
The only thing I don’t really like it’s when it comes to minor practical things, like cutting panels. Sometimes I’m required to do so, and, well, it can really take a lot of time, but it’s OK, I can manage that.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis, how has technology changed in the last few years in your field and how has that impacted you in your job?
I digitally work using Photoshop on my Cintiq, that’s the software I use for the most part of the times. Sometimes I’ve been asked to storyboard with Flash or with Storyboard Pro for production reasons; it was fine but I find myself more in control of the drawings with Photoshop. I also like very much SketchBookPro for drawing, but I have to say I don’t use it very often for storyboarding. In the beginning I was a bit skeptical about switching from paper and pencil to digital storyboarding, but now I’m very happy to work in digital, it makes it faster for many things ( faster retakes, no need to scan, and in general much easier way to make corrections) and to work on a Cintiq is a pleasure.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
For me, the most difficult part in this business, from the point of view of a freelancer, is about to make sure you always have gigs going on. As I’m getting closer and closer to the end of a work, I need to start to look around for the next gig. I have to say I’ve been lucky enough so far, I had work to do for the most part of the times. It only happened a couple of times to be jobless for a month or so. But yeah, for me that’s the most difficult part.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I’ve been working for six months in Kilkenny, Ireland, at Cartoon Saloon, and I’ve been able to meet Tomm Moore and Paul Young who are the guys behind the beautiful movie “The Secret of Kells”. Also, I’ve been attending some animation conventions, were I was able to see famous animators working for Disney or Dreamworks.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Several years ago I moved to Ireland to study animation; it was a very particular moment in my life and moving abroad completely alone without knowing anybody was kind of tough. Luckily, over there, I met fantastic and helpful people ( classmates and housemates). I’m still in touch with them today.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
I have an idea for a personal short, but it would need a lot of development work. I can be a big procrastinator.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
As a matter of fact, I did that thing with the cherry stem once! I made it only once though…but not, that’s not my average hobby. I like cooking and watching movies.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
I’d say, always try to be very good in what you do, try to look around to get inspiration from other artists; you need to be aware that in this business you’ll never finish to learn, it really is a never ending learning process; try to be versatile, so you’ll have more chances to find a job, but in general whatever kind of assignment you happen to get, always try to deliver the best that you can. But it’s not only about the technical part of the job, I think it’s very important to have an education and a culture in general: history, history of art, history of cinema, design, illustration…I think the more you know, the better you’ll be as an artist in general. But at the end of the day, don’t forget these are cartoons, so don’t take yourself TOO seriously.