Michael Jantze

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What is your name and your current occupation?
Michael Jantze, owner of Jantze Studios and professor at SCAD. Prior jobs include: Newspaper journalist. Syndicated cartoonist. Visual Effects Art Director at ILM.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Co-directed Joe Murray’s “Frog in a Suit” and directed the animation for a dream sequence in Lawrence Kasdan’s 2012 feature “Darling Companion”.

How did you become interested in animation?
I was born. I was interested in animation.

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
Born in New York, grew up in Illinois, I’ve been in California on and off since 1981 (film school at Cal State Northridge). I got out of college, applied to Disney the week “Black Cauldron” came out. So I went into documentary filmmaking the following week. That lead to art directing, that led to journalism, that led to writing comics, that led to the web, that didn’t lead to special effects but it was ILM and I did it anyhow. Finally, I decided to open a traditional hand-drawn animation studio in 2006. We started working with Hilton Hotels and YouTube and then moved into new media for the newspaper syndicates and supporting companies.

What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
I split my time between teaching, writing and running Jantze Studios.

What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I like it all, honestly. At Jantze Studios we produce, write and direct most of our projects. Having the type of clients who trust me author the work is the best.

What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Going home.

What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
I’ve lived on the outer rim of the industry…working on new media projects…having the patience to wait for the industry to come to me is the most difficult, I guess. But I also like the freedom of doing my own thing instead of following the old school ways.

What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Wacom Cintq with a Mac. I’m doing more and more previz work on the iPad with Autodesk’s Sketchbook Pro. I like the looseness of the resulting artwork.

In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Yes. Glen Keane was a highlight. Working with Joe Murray taught me a lot of what to concentrate on as a director. At ILM I worked with several A list directors and producers…their attitude and knowledge were wonderful to be around.

Describe a tough situation you had in life.
I broke my leg in fourth grade, complications made it that I was out of school for five months. Knowing that my professional football career was over, I began drawing.

Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
I’m always writing and creating books, comics, scripts. My studio is working (during down time) on a new short entitled “A Bump In The Night”, but we may never finish it, the jobs keep coming in.

Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I can catch anything I knock over before it hits the floor. I’m clumsy, but have quick reflexes. Same goes for personal relationships. Ha.Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Go to SCAD, we’ll turn you into an animation freak of nature.

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