What is your name and your current occupation?
Tom Beattie – Series Producer
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I used to work in live action commercial and pop video production starting as a runner. There are too many crazy jobs to mention. A few highlights include pigeon wrangling, trying to lay a red carpet in the sea, dragging a vaulting horse back and forth across ‘the’ Abbey Road pedestrian crossing and sticking 100’s of fake flowers into a garden in winter to make it look like spring.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Again I’ve worked on so many fantastic projects, including Charlie and Lola, but Mr Bean has to be my favorite. It’s been a pleasure working with Rowan Atkinson having followed his amazing career. It has also been great having the entire crew based in the office in the UK. They are a fabulously talented bunch.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from the UK and always had an arts background. I went to art college and then onto university to study Visual Communications. I specialized as an advertising art director/copy writer. I moved to London to continue that career but moved across to the other side of the camera to the production of commercials and pop videos. While freelance I worked at Tiger Aspect, who had a children’s department, and I was offered a full time position starting as a production co-ordinator on the first series of the animated Mr Bean.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
This can vary. On the Mr Bean series I could be reading scripts, watching animatics, viewing animation or attending voice records. With a 52 episode series you are looking at different stages of many episodes at any one time. It’s a lot to keep in your head. I also run the animation and kids department at Tiger Aspect so I’m also developing new shows and overseeing the projects that we’ve completed including Charlie and Lola.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
As above, it’s the variety. Each day is different. From the people I meet and work with to the different stages of a project. I love working on Mr Bean particularly the voice records and mixing an episode with all the different sound effects.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Nothing major. There are boring parts of everyone’s job like filing but I can’t complain. I love what I do.
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?
The animated Mr Bean is a perfect example. The first series was all hand drawn with 500+ people working on the series. For the second series we didn’t have the time or budget to replicate that. We wanted to produce the series digitally but without a ‘reboot’. We wanted the series to play concurrently with the first without too much difference. We’ve achieved this using a software called Celaction2D along with Adobe Illustrator and a talented team. We now have an in-house crew of 60.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
It’s the funding. It’s a long slog to get a show fully funded (if) and there is a lot of chasing to get things moving and keep the momentum up.
If you could change the way the business works and is run how would you do it?
Tricky question. The industry is changing anyway with so much content online so we’ll see what happens. I’d also say commission all my new shows and fully fund them. 😉
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Many great animators/directors. Richard Purdum directed the first series of Mr Bean. He was from a fantastic group of animators producing some beautiful animation.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Rejection. While trying to get in to the industry you receive a lot of rejection before you get any interest. Perseverance is the key.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
A lot of the projects are in early development so can’t say much but I am excited to be working on Simon’s Cat.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I collect novelty sunglasses. The wackier the better. I’m not sure why but I do love the character you become when you wear them.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Keep drawing. Almost all animation is digital but we still look for animators with traditional skills. You need to have a solid base and understanding of how things move and are built.