Timothy Bjorklund

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What is your name and your current occupation?
Timothy Bjorklund – writing/designing some series/feature premises that will never see the light of day.

 

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation? 

My crazier jobs were in animation. But outside of animation, I had one job when I was 15 stapling fiberglass sheets to a warehouse ceiling and I fell about 20 feet off of a scaffold to a concrete floor and lived. My back still hates me for that though.

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of? 

Roger Rabbit, They Might Be Giants “Istanbul” music video, Teacher’s Pet feature and Brandy & Mr. Whiskers was a lot of fun.

How did you become interested in animation?
My High School Art teacher brought in a 16mm Betty Boop cartoon one day and that was it – I thought, “Why the hell aren’t they making cartoons like this anymore?” So I set out to do some Fleischer-esque animation whenever I could. I eventually became a fan of Clampett and Jones and all the Disney guys. But Betty is what got me into animation.

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from San Francisco and there are a hell of a lot of good animators around the Bay Area. After I left CalArts, I got my first job as an assistant animator at Colossal Pictures (where I learned how to flip five drawings, a skill I somehow never learned at CalArts). I worked my way up toanimator and eventually director. I also animated some FX at ILM over the years (on paper – computers weren’t around back then – why yes, I am an old, old man).

What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Normally the day starts with checking animation or edits that needed to be done the day before, signing off on them or making additional requests, looking at recent designs and approving or making additional requests and then having to speak with the execs who are paying for everything. And after that was all done, I read scripts, make notes on those and then pour some cocktails.

What part of your job do you like best? Why?
The cocktails. Oh, and looking at amazing animation done by animators far more talented than myself. It is very satisfying looking at colleagues’ work that you discussed with them the day before and seeing your notes implemented with such skill and professionalism. The collaboration is very rewarding.

What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Talking with the executives. I don’t like talking.

What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Have I mentioned the executives? They are a necessary evil that must be dealt with.

What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
I am not very technologically savvy. Thankfully, as a director, I am not required to deal with AFX or Premier or Flash too much. Other, more talented people handle those things. I am just a pair of eyes that gets to make the calls. It is good to be king.

In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Good god, YES! Geniuses too numerable to mention. Animators from Disney, Brown Bag, Kavaleer plus the ones I never got to meet in Taiwan or the Philippines. Camera operators at ILM, AFX artists at Cartoon Network in London and at Kavaleer. BG designers and painters at every studio I’ve worked at – I couldn’t do what they do! I’ve also had the pleasure of working with and being friends with directors such as Bill Kopp, John Hays, David Silverman, Steve Hillenburg, Joe Murray and Wes Takahashi. I should also mention that the esteemed Jules Engel was my mentor at CalArts and I did get to meet Bob Clampett and Grim Natwick who are truly animation greats.

Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Well, my mother died when I was 10 years old, that was kind of tough. And my wife had lymphoma when our daughter was only 8 months old and I was busy directing a feature for Disney. Thankfully she and the rest of us survived.

 

Any side projects you’re working on you’d like to share details of?
Just constantly writing/designing pitches, everything from a show about dolphins and whales at an amusement park to an 8th grader who accidentally shoots himself in the head and wakes up from a coma at 35.

Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?Don’t do it. Be a surgeon instead. Or an engineer. Or an astronaut. But seriously, learn to write. We will always need good writers.

 

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