Oliver Simonsen

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What is your name and your current occupation?
Oliver Simonsen, President of What Comics Entertainment -currently in co-production with “Pink Slip Animation” Directing “Cerebus the aardvark -tale of a fractured destiny“, based on the Graphic Novel that started the independent comic book market.
and in pre-production: “Bug Juice” based on the hit indie Graphic Novel series “Bug House”.  The idea is we’ll focus on productions based on independent/alternative comics. A Miramax of cartoons, if you will:)
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Trying really hard to erase those from my memory lol.

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
“The Hooligans” -a sorta adult swim type show…basically i learned computer graphics and computers in general while working on it, something i had barely touched upon till that point.

It was during the dotcom boom and the sky was the limit: heady days and a lot of fun and learned so much. The final outcome wasn’t maybe the best -but it was a great learning experience.

How did you become interested in animation?
Anybody who knew me as a kid knew that animation, comicbooks and film was the only thing i ever wanted to do. Not sure why. I’ve asked myself that same thing many times:)  One thing was moving to Norway when 9 and they really didn’t have much in the way of cartoons on TV overthere at the time, this was mid to late 70s. This in turn really got me into comicbooks which was then probably the Golden Age of at the time there. I mean i was into animation and all before then -but always figured that probably didn’t hurt as far as cementing it.

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
More or less from LA -though most of my schooling was, as mentioned, in Norway as i moved there when 9 and came back when 18. Actually there was a bit more to it then that, but that’s the short version:) I moved a lot. My first animation job was storyboarding and doing key poses on a show called “Goofballs”

I was pretty lucky that they took a chance on someone without real experience. It helped that he liked my comicbook work -and i had taken some terrific storyboarding classes by the Animation Guild.

What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
we are very decentralized team, so a lot is done via email. As a Director and coordinating the production I find it is actually a very good way to work in many ways as i find it lessens faulty memory and misunderstandings among all parties involved as one can always refer back to the email. Most of the emails are regarding coordinating and sending out scene files and looking over incoming jpegs and playblasts.

What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I love seeing incoming previews of work that you know just nailed it.

What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Having to tell the artist the work just isn’t nailing it:( It’s the hardest part -but it has to be done as we’re all dependent on each other that the film will be good. We all have a lot invested in it.

What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Maya, zbrush, blender and the CS5 suite.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Finding funding. To any investors reading this -call me:)
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Hate to name drop, but there was this Mike Milo, a two time emmy winning Director of “Pinky and the Brain”!;) He’s a really great guy!
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
I’ve had my share of tough times -like most, i believe. I really don’t want to get into the tough times, but just want to emphasize what a thrill it is when things go right like they are these days.
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
I never miss an opportunity to plug my comic book creation “Captain Zap“. A “zen-like-space-faring-philosopher-with-a-sense-of-humor”. I guess, I really need to work on that plug:)

Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
Now i feel inadequate:(
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Don’t! Listen to your parents! lol

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