Randall Kaplan

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What is your name and your current occupation?
Randall Kaplan. I’m a filmmaker, animator, freelance artist and designer.  I’m making an animated horror film called ‘Boxhead’.

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation? 
I bar backed for a heavy metal bar (cleaning up vomit) and worked at Starbuck’s (cleaning up vomit). I also edited wedding videos for many years (not exactly true to my sensibility.)

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Well, I’m very proud of my 5 original short films that were distributed in the anthology, ‘Beneath the Flesh’.  Aside from that, I worked as an editor on Beavis and Butt-head and also did some voices for the show. I’m very happy about that. I’m also very proud to have designed the creatures in an upcoming horror movie called ‘Crabs!’ Yes…that’s the title.  There was also this one wedding video I edited that was just gorgeous.

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business? 
I’m from Brooklyn back when nobody wanted to go there. I grew up around animation. My mother is in the business and for many years I did my best to avoid it.  One day the bug finally bit me, and I realized I wanted to make my drawings come alive.

What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Ideally, I work all night and sleep late. Nighttime is when the nightmares take form.

What part of your job do you like best? Why?
When I’m making the film, everything. Except waiting for files to render.

What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Waiting for files to render and self-promotion. Promoting yourself and your film, especially doing crowd funding like this, is a full time job in and of itself, and can be very daunting. It’s crucial to make the thing, but it can be insane and brutal.

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’m still using old versions of software, because it works. I use Photoshop and After Effects for visuals. I make original music for the film, and use hardware like analog synthesizers and record and mix in Pro Tools. I edit everything together in Final Cut Pro.  I work traditionally first, drawing on paper using a real light table, working with pencil and ink and sometimes oil paint. Then I scan the drawings. I actually get my animation paper and other supplies at Cartoon Color in Culver City, which is an awesome place that I’m sure many of you know about.

What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Trying to explain my film to people, and why I need to do it, especially since it’s somewhat unusual and not the most mainstream of projects. That, and promoting myself.

If you could change the way the business works and is run how would
you do it?
I’d like to see studios take risks with projects that are unique and different. Animation has limitless possibilities, and it seems we only get to see a tiny fraction of what could be.

In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Yes! I’ve been lucky enough to meet and get to know Mike Judge, Bill Plympton, Fred Wolf, Signe Bauman, John Dilworth, Tomm Moore, and Emily Hubley!

Describe a tough situation you had in life.

Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
Just the film that led to this interview. Boxhead. It’s all encompassing and has taken over my life.

Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?I like to sometimes take photos of things I see on the streets- alleyways, urban decay, things like that. I also like to travel around the country, and crawl into whatever dive bars I can find, have a drink and talk to and meet strangers.

Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Well, if you’re looking to be a technician in the business, I can’t really give you advice. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, but I can’t speak for it.  I can only give advice to people who have an idea, and want to see it made. Follow your instincts. Keep pushing, no matter what anyone else says or what gets in the way.  Always go back to what inspires you. And follow that.


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