What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Régis (that’s Reggie, or “Raegis”, no Reejus, please) Camargo and I am a freelance story artist, animator, and visual development artist
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I wish I had some stories about odd jobs, but honestly I really don’t. Besides, animation is crazy enough as it is…
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
My first professional gig is also the one of which I’ve been most proud. Years ago I worked as a concept and story artist on the feature film “9” directed by Shane Acker. I was incredibly green, but I learned so much working closely with Shane as his assistant during the development stage of the feature, and then as a story artist once we moved into pre-production. It was great to feel like I was able to creatively contribute to the making of that world and those characters, both which had already been very well built on the short film of the same name.
How did you become interested in animation?
Ever since I was 2 years old I’ve been watching cartoons of some sort or another, so I can truly say that I’ve been interested in animation as far as I can remember. My father would screen Tom and Jerry shorts on his super 8 projector for my brother and I, and while I briefly lived in France, I would watch the Goldorak (the French version of Grendizer) endlessly. However, the decision to actually want to this for a living came much later, as well as any inkling of drawing, around when I was about 17 years old.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I am originally from São Paulo, Brazil, and I spent most of my childhood there. My family and I moved to the U.S. when I was about 14, and we’ve been here since. Starting a new life in a new country on the 8th grade was huge cultural shock for me, one from which I wonder if I ever recovered. Like I said in the previous question, I really only started drawing when I was about 17 years old, but it was at that time that I wanted to really do animation for a living. As far as getting into the business, that came later, as an animation graduate student at UCLA, where I met director (and fellow UCLA animation graduate) Shane Acker during an animation screening at UCLA as well. I was quite surprised that he enjoyed my first short film (The Fox and The Baby) which was so completely different from his then short “9,” both conceptually and aesthetically. What surprised even more is that not long after that, he invited me to join him in developing “9” into a feature film.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
As a freelancer, there are really no typical days. On some weeks I can be animating, on others boarding, and then there’s some downtime between gigs, so it’s really atypical actually. But, I do wake up early to walk my dog every morning, regardless of whatever project I’m in, and that helps keep some sort of consistency in my life.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
Whether I’m storyboarding, animating, or creating concept art, I’m always building unique experience for me (and hopefully for the viewer.) And no matter what medium I am working in, I think the experience is not only visual, but also intellectual and emotional, simultaneously. Well, at least that is what I aim for with each new job, though, it’s not always the case that it happens in such a harmonious fashion. But, when it does happen, especially when working in a team, I think there is definitely a feeling of “it’s alive” when looking at the finished work, and what could be more gratifying than something so life-affirming?
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Continuing on what I said on the previous question, I think because animation is so related to giving life to an idea, and the experience of that idea, it’s very hard for an artist, or a team of artists to feel fully pleased with the end product. And I don’t think that is necessarily related to accepting oneself as an artist, or to seek perfection constantly, but rather how that experience ultimately feels. Of course, for the artist, the experience of making the work is often more gratifying than the work itself, so balancing these factors have always been very challenging to me, and not necessarily something that enjoy. It’s hard for me not to take my work personally, so if my heart is not “in it” than the experience is obviously not as gratifying.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Rejection. No one likes to feel rejected, and I’m no different, though I think the more experience I get, the easier it becomes to deal with rejection. Nevertheless, I don’t think that is a feeling that is ever going to go away in this line of business, or in life for that matter.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
For storyboarding and concept art I use Adobe Photoshop, for animation, Adobe Flash, and occasionally Adobe After Effects and Final Cut Pro when I’m putting my own animation reels together.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
A little over 10 years ago, I was lucky enough to meet Joe Barbera and to interview him as part of a school project while at UCLA. It was interesting to see how even at his age, he was still excited to do storyboards for Tom & Jerry, and I’d say that left me quite inspired. Also, a few years after that, I met John Lasseter at an Academy screening, and was quite surprised at his intense handshake.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
A few months after I got my MFA from the UCLA animation program in 2008, I had a real hard time finding work and just dealing with being in the “real world” so to speak. Not only that, but I was incredibly burned out from working on my thesis film (which by that time had been 3 years since I started on it) and I think I definitely hit rock bottom psychologically for a few months after that. Around the same time, the economy crashed, and we were in the decisive moments of one of the most important elections for America in recent years (and perhaps in history.)
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
I’m trying to get more and more into independent comics, and so I’m continually working on my own long form comic “Hockey, Love, & GUTS!”, which is a sports high school drama with a bit of secret identity heroics that make it a very challenging but rewarding story to tell. Though, the greatest challenge about that, is just to keep releasing content on a frequent manner, which is something I still have to learn how to do. But, if that seems like too much of a commitment, you can read a 5 page short comic that I did based on a Scott McCloud workshop that I attended back in December of 2010. Or you check out my “Independent Projects” page under the “Portfolio” section of my site and check out some of my story sketch and storyboard shorts, such as “Hollywood Star FAIL” and “The Hairdresser’s Nightmare” and my latest original storyboard short “I Woke Up With Something In My Pants” (warning: NSFW, or Rated-R). Lastly, I’ve been getting back to doing some concept art work with projects like Crimson Candle and War of the Currents, which are my most recent works.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
Metallurgy sounds awesome, but I think I don’t have the lungs for that kind of work. I like training my dog when I’m not drawing or spending time with my wife and friends, but I wouldn’t consider that an unusual talent. I’ve been told I have a very good photographic memory, does that count?
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Something a teacher of mine from UCLA, Howard Suber, often talked about when that question came up, was the concept of despair. Suber didn’t take credit for this advice, saying it was rather Francis Ford Coppola who replied to that kind of question by talking about how to handle despair. I am paraphrasing here, but basically what Suber was saying is that anyone involved in a creative medium has to have a lot of “faith” in oneself, and when that faith falters, it’s very easy to fall into despair. And so, if even Coppola had issues handling with despair, then that is something that anyone with any kind of success or merit eventually has to face.
But, besides that, I have no advice for anyone trying to break into the business. To tell you the truth, I’m still trying to do the same myself.