What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Eric Dapkewicz, and I am an Animation Film Editor. I just recently wrapped on the movie, “Puss In Boots” for DreamWorks Animation.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I worked in a parking garage at a Post Facility. That kind of sucked. But I got to know Mel Brooks this way.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I’ve been proud of a lot of different things I’ve worked on. In terms of animated movies, I’m most proud of “Lilo & Stitch” and “Puss In Boots”. I’ve made some independent movies and music I’m proud of as well.
How did you become interested in animation?
I’ve always loved animation since I was a kid. Watched all the Warner Brother Cartoon Classics and Disney Film Classics. I don’t think I’ve ever really outgrown my love for the medium. I even got into Anime quite a bit as I got older.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from Orange County, CA. I got into the animation business by applying for various jobs out of college and eventually landed a gig at Disney Feature Animation as a P.A. on “Pocahontas” and then onto “Mulan”.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
My days are normally quite frantic. I spend chunks of time by myself, cutting new scenes together with storyboards, dialogue, music and sound effects. I also have to cut together animatics/layout – which is very similar to cutting together live action coverage for a scene – where I have options of camera angles etc. I may go to dailies and work with the animators on specific shots when cutting them all into the movie for continuity or pacing issues. I work with the directors and producers a couple hours a day to show them what we’ve been working on and to turn around notes if needed. This sometimes means we have to re-cut a scene, write, draw and record new dialogue that I have to cut together on the fly. This happens way more than many people might think. I also attend countless meetings that effect the movie and different departments. I also go to every recording session where I work with the director and talent (such as Antonio Banderas) to make sure we get what we need for the movie. In the end… just about anything that is created for the film has to go through me. And in turn… I have to supply the other departments with the sections of the movie that they need to work on. Every director I have ever worked with confesses… the animated movie as a whole… is made in the cutting room. Especially when you think we have to create the movie many times in storyboard and layout form – way before an animator ever gets a chance to start animating his/her shots.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
When it’s all done and I can just relax and watch the movie with a theater audience that has no idea what they are about to see. That’s the most rewarding.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Marketing. Cause it’s often something that is out of our hands and can sometimes not really represent the actual movie we are making. I don’t envy the people that have to do the job. It is often thankless and very difficult. But the film makers in general often don’t agree with marketing campaigns. And we can’t do much about it – cause we are in a race just to finish the movie.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
The pressure. If you really sit down and think about all the people that rely on you to deliver… and the amount of money that it takes to make films of this magnitude… there is a lot of pressure to deliver a successful product. I’m also a film geek at heart. And it was much easier back in the 90’s to release a film into the world… as we didn’t hear so much from every voice on the planet. Now-a-days… I feel there is a danger of studios and film makers reading too much into what every single person has to say. The irony is… the more voices you listen to… the more your products get watered down as you try to appease the masses rather than making a film in a vacuum with a single vision. It has it’s pros and cons. It’s all how you filter things.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
I cut my animated movies on the AVID.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I’ve worked with so many talented and amazing people in my life. Many I would even call friends. Anyone that has pretty much worked on an animated film at either Disney or DreamWorks over the past 20 years… I have met or worked with.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
In terms of the animation world… it was tough when Disney decided to close down the Florida Animation Studio. It really was such a great place and with great people. I believe John Lasseter even said, that he would not have let them close that studio down if he could have prevented it. We were working on a movie at the time called, “My Peoples”. And it was two years of none stop struggling. It was a cute and charming story that the executives that were running the company at the time, didn’t believe in. A lot of very poor management decisions were being made at Disney… and this was just one of many that was a tough pill to swallow since it effected me and many of my peers and friends personally.
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
I love making music, with my band… IMAGINARIUS. Much of our music is available on iTunes (in case you want to hear us). I also make independent movies from time to time. Just recently wrote and directed a sci-fi film called, “Paradox Alice” which is almost done in post-production. Got to go to the AFM in November last year to promote and it, and got a lot of good buzz and feedback. That was fun.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
Hmmm… that’s a tough one. None that I can think of.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Don’t ever lose your passion for good storytelling and being the best you can be. But learn patience. Be humble. And gravitate to people you can trust and learn from. Find mentors. Never think you know it all. Most young talent coming into the business often struggles with airing on the arrogant side of things. All too often I’ve seen young kids out of college have this mentality and it gets them into trouble a lot. I struggled myself at first, and I was lucky enough to have someone pull me aside and mentally slap me across the face to wake me up. I was lucky that happened.