Mucci Fassett

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What is your name and your current occupation?
Mucci Fassett, that is to say, I am Mucci Fassett, and I’m currently Directing ZHU ZHU PETS, a low-budgeCGI ANIMATED dvd movie for Moonscoop Productions.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Well, when i was 16 years old, I was a busboy at The Old Spaghetti Factory in downtown San Diego. I had a secret-affair with the head waitress. The boss found out, he had the hots for her too, so he fired me.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
As far as the one thing that I’mproud of?  I suppose I am proud of a little DVD movie I made for MGA calledDesert Jewel. It was a ”Bratz” movie, and yes everyone vomits when they hear the word Bratz! that’s because they immediately think of those bawdy little dolls in their hoochie-coochie hot-pink skirts, and I really can’t blame them, I feel the same way too, but the films I did for the Bratz Brand aren’t of that content at all, and this little ”Bratz Desert Jewel” film is mighty for what it is: we had 9 months to make it (and that’s from script-premise all the way to the final Mix) so we really had to haul ass, as that’s a tight little hustle for a 3-act 72 minute film. But we did, we pulled it off, me and my superb crew of Joe Scott, Vill Cruz, Javier Secaduras, Clay Christman and my editor at the time Michael Bradley who made some real great contributions. The design-look of the characters was not my thing at all, I couldn’t do anything about elevating that, (as that is the brand of the dolls, etc.) but the Storytelling is very cinematic, the editing, the mood, the score, even the actors who read for it, it all came together damn strong, and so it was a gratifyingexperience and it wasn’t even released in this country! It’s the one time they spelled my name right and nobody ever saw it. My own boss never even saw it. O well, you move on, and hope for the planets to line-up like that again, only with higher stakes, much more design and more Story-significance, because in the larger scope of possibilities.. (with respect to all the places I have worked and wonderful people I have worked with) …I really haven’t worked on anything truly great yet.
Have you had any art-training prior to getting in the animation business?
None.  As soon as I could hold a pencil I started drawing. And I’d like to keep it like that and go out that way too. I’m glad that technique didn’t mess me all up. There is way too much standardization in this business, individuality needs to be brought out more and celebrated. So many people draw the same its stifling! so generic! and so as a result almost everything looks the same, and in this day in age it certainly doesn’t have to be that way. For example- why does Rapunzel (from Tangled) look exactly like Ariel from Mermaid?
How did you become interested in animation?
by way of TV. At around age 14 the fever hit me. Before that I always drew, but the kind of cartooning & illustration you’d find in The New Yorker or graphic novels. For a minute there I used to want to work for the Kitchen Sink press, or Heavy Metal mag, and try and be like the next Will Eisner or someone. Then one night on TV I happen to see a Disney Behind-The-Scenes where they showed one of those old macho-drunk animators like Milt Kahl flipping the pages of his loose drawings, and this tiger was moving around, all raw and rough.. hot damn! fantastic! before that it never occurred to me that someone had to draw all these ”cartoons” I was seeing on TV. And so, that was it. Somehow I went from Frank Frazetta to Freddy Moore.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
Well, I hail from a pretty dismal part of the world-  San Diego, California. Yes, as Gertrude Stein once said of her own hometown- ”there is no there, there” And so when I was old enough to split, I did. At age 17 I dropped out of High School and started immediately working at a small animation studio in San Diego working on animated TV commercials for Sea World. The next Fall I thumbed a ride into CAL ARTS where I got in by the skin of my teeth and met some real talented fellow-students, like Carey Yost, Julian Chaney and Tom Owens. Then by way of good-timing I got picked up by two more very talented people (Ken Boyer & Charlie Bean) who were putting together a new unit for The WB called Tiny Toons.. and that’s when I fully arrived in LA, and soon started working with some really great artists, people like Chris Recardi, Jim Smith, Walt Peregoy, Bob Camp, Pascal Morelli, Joe Horne, then later Bruce Smith (who later gave me my first real break in 2000 directing The Proud Family for Disney TV) and then later people like Nico Marlet, John Eng, Paul Rudish, Wallace Williamson, and Devin Crane. In fact I’m lucky to have had the good fortune to work with so many marvelously talented people over the years, as I can name 50 people that are light-years better than me across-the-board, and they’ve all been wonderful to me.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
..coffee.. then more coffee.

What part of your job do you like best?

well, as my friend Suzibot said (of what I do all day) and that is ”pulling down light”. So to answer your question I’d say that is the part of my job I like best. And she’s right, for that’s really what directing is: it’s a sort of pulling down light from above (or from where ever) and distributing it around to your crew. But know that The Director is not a wonder-worker, and he or she is not governing the crew, it is it’s simply spreading vitality around, and getting everyone infused with the same bit of genuine enthusiasm you have for the film. It’s about inspiring the crew and getting them to contribute, and I mean boldly contribute with audacity, and that mainlyis the director’s obligation. Sure there’s an eye in the sky that the director has to be, advising the prudent coarse, etc. but beyond that it’s trusting the process; I trust my crew, and try to give them a real sense of power, because when I do that, I seem to get more profound contributions from them. Overall it’s a sort of a balance between rolling up your sleeves and getting down in the trenches with what everyone is doing, yet at the same time stepping back and being a sort of lose compass guide. Sprezzatura! as they say, and letting things take their natural course. I don’t like when directors say they have a “vision” I think that is a crock. Yes, OK, sure I may have a certain vision of the film, yes, but then so does my Head of Story, so does the writer, so does the client, so do my designers and everyone aboard. More specifically I try to share my vision as just raw bones to build on, instead of absolute law. For I know that today’s hot visions could be just luke-warm ideas tomorrow. So in a way its a bit of an improvisation; I don’t exactly know what I’m going to do, and I don’t want to know either. You dig? I only want to know as I go, as the train is moving. i.e.  if you are absolutely set in knowing and overly planning out what you want, then you’re not as open to receiving the new ideas that are in the air, as new ideas only reveal themselves on the go, and that is where the light is,that is where the excitement is. Some of the best moments in anything I’ve done is the stuff that came in the 11th hour by way of a happy accident. In this regard I believe the film is always alive and it will show you the way if you set the right atmosphere to make it in. Aberrations are always welcome on my crew, and I never met a re-write I didn’t like. Great ideas can come from anyone on the crew, and I mean anyone and everyone! Out of many, one. And that is where the joy is! Being part of that process is beautiful. It’s a sharing of ideas and finding opportunities to pump up what you love, a feeling of participating in something greater than yourself. I want to provide a platform where everyone feels they are part of the creative experience as a whole. After all film-making (or TV-series making) is a group-effort medium. I also think of what Paul Thomas Anderson said of directing- “it’s simply being a good dad”
What part of your job do you like least?
The Clock, as Father Time is not our friend in production. That and ”Notes” from the Network. But this is the way of it. So, you compromise and dance.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
the most difficult part of being in the business is being out of the business, you know, dry spells. It’s easy to be working; you’re in demand and the ego is quenched. But as soon as you lose some footing on the work-ladder people forget about you real quick. The sobering truth you soon find out is: no one is coming to save you. When you are off of that ladder no one cares what kind of talent you are, or what you’ve done previously. No one is coming. So, the thing one has to remember is who you are as an artist has nothing to do with being on that ladder.
Describe a tough situation you had in life

Oh I dunno, just everyday I guess-  you know, to not take myself for a sucker when I put my head down to pillow at night.

What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Oh everything and anything, but you get in those Story-rooms all day and it’s mostly pen & paper. I suppose in Story and in directing the actual media doesn’t matter that much. I once had to give a big Pitch and I ran out of time, so I had to do half the storyboard at lunch at a bistro, which was fine but I ran out of paper! so half the storyboard was drawn on the back of cocktail napkins. I pinned them up and went to town. I don’t think anyone noticed till after the pitch. Luckily it was successful so it all worked out.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Yes many: When I was 15 years old, I was already way into animation and I had the honor of having Chuck Jones review my drawings. He did so, and to my surprise very swiftly. Then he said “‘uh, yeah, I think you need to work on your craft a bit, son”  That was pretty disheartening. After wards I remember standing outside alone waiting for my parents to pick me up, it was pretty pathetic. It was raining and there I was all hangdog with my soggy rejected drawings, black and blue inks bleeding. I really almost hung it all up after that, but somehow I carried on. I think I grew in that year. Chuck must had given me the tough-love I needed. A year later I got to visit Andreas Deja at Walt Disney Feature Animation and he spent the whole afternoon going over my drawings. He was very encouraging.That same Summer I visited Don Bluth studios and got to hang with Dan Kuester in his office and watch him animate all day! (which was actually the sea monster from American Tale) and he saw my work too and said he would have hired me if I wasn’t in High School. So I suppose that was pretty encouraging for me at that tender age. Years later I was lucky enough to work along side of Walt Peregoy. I’ve learned a lot from him over the years. I never took his advise, I don’t have the guts, but indirectly I learned something from him and that is- to always keep something for yourself. No matter what you do all day for “them” it’s vital to ones sanity to always have a little kindle of fire burning for yourself, (your own art always alive on the back-burner) because if you don’t, as Walt Peregoy says- “you’ll play hell trying to get it back when it’s gone”. I think that is sound advise. Lucky for me- apart from my duties at work, drawing is my muse, my constant companion, and it’s 24 hours a day.
What inspires you?
All things and everything found in everyday life. Really, I mean it. That may sound a little vague but it really is all things all the time.  As David Milch says-  “it isn’t a waiting around for the miracle, it’s a readying of the spirit to recognize that the miracle is here and continuous”
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Take it and you’ll make it. To believe in yourself to absolutely trust yourself and to embrace being an individual. That, and I’d say (regardless of what path you’re on) to read Kipling’s poem ” IF ” as that pretty much sums up all the good advise you could ever give to anyone starting off in this world.
http://www.muccifassett.com
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6 Comments

  1. I had the privilege of meeting Mucci Fassett in the 7th grade, the first day at Dana Jr. High. I remember thinking he was a dick because he wouldn’t let me check out the Atarii 2600 catalog he always carried around, I guess he thought I was going to rip it off or something. Eventually we became friends because we both liked to draw, well he could draw – I’d just scibble out goofy crap and try to make him laugh. He’s wrong about one thing, he had been making cel animation with a Super 8 camera when I met him for about a year, so he was at least 13 when he started. It’s great to see Mucci’s still doing what he loves.

  2. Some amazing art there Mucci not that it’s a surprise to me! Mucci and I go way back to the days of Hanna Barbera and What A Cartoon and I am sorry to say my first real meeting with him didn’t go so well. We were at an H and B party down in Malibu and my boss had gotten drunk and I was helping him around. He was also Mucci and Charlie Bean’s boss and he stopped them and drunkenly proceeded to tell them that they were too slow getting their short done and that I was much faster and better than they were because I animated my scenes and still hit my deadlines. Of course it wasn’t true and I was really embarrassed about that and have always felt bad about it over the years. Anyway, people remember their short “Buy One Get One Free” better anyway so whatever the outcome it was a fantastic film and I still watch it fondly from time to time. Thanks for taking the time to do the interview Mucci!

  3. I didn’t get to meet Mucci the normal way. I had just started at CalArts and was told to use his desk to work at. I didn’t know why or what happened to him but I sat down and found a great drawing that Mucci had made. I was so inspired by it that I started to draw the same image on another piece of paper. I had never seen anything like the way he could draw. I thought why is this guy in art school he’s way to good. The next day I came back to the desk to draw again and someone had left a note saying had had no right to sit at his desk because Mucci was such a great artist and well I wasn’t. They where right but it was just mean 🙁 But 3 Years later I was director of Development at HB and I helped sale Mucci’s and Charlie Beans show to Cartoon network. I was luck to have had the chance to do something good for such a great artist. 🙂

  4. Hey David ..i am Babin old friend in paris .Good to see you here doing great job.proud of you bro…we used to be friends in Paris i was from nepal hope you remember me .mail me we here bro..babinsingh@ymail.com

    • Hey David ..i am Babin old friend in paris .Good to see you here doing great job.proud of you bro…we used to be friends in Paris i was from nepal hope you remember me .mail me we here bro

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