What is your name and your current occupation?
Josh Mepham, Director.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I was a bartender in Portugal where we would blast shots into our customers’ mouths with a supersoaker gun.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I’m really proud of the two seasons of Kid vs. Kat that I co-directed with creator Rob Boutilier at DHX Media. It’s a fantastic show and deserves all the success it has achieved. I’m also extremely proud of the show my company Slap Happy Cartoons has in development with YTV right called Nerds & Monsters. Slap Happy has also produced some animated shorts for the Vancouver Canucks that play on the big screen at the games. I’m really excited to be working with that organization seeing as I’m a huge Canucks fan.
How did you become interested in animation?
I’ve loved to draw ever since I can remember picking up that first crayon, and I’ve always loved watching cartoons. So I guess I’ve been interested in animation my whole life. I just didn’t think I’d be able to get a job working in it! I thought the only way you’d get a job making cartoons was if you moved to L.A, little did I know there was a booming industry just a ferry boat ride away.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I was born and raised in Victoria, B.C. I attended the Vancouver Film School back in 1995 and got my first job animating at International Rocketship on Gary Larson’s Tales From the Farside. After Rocketship I was lucky enough to get a job at Studio B Productions where they gave me my first opportunity to direct.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Every day is so different as a director depending on where you’re at in the schedule. But if I were to describe a day in the middle of the schedule when everything is happening at once? It would involve doing most of the things listed below in whatever order makes the most sense on that day. read the latest springboard/outline/script and make notes attend voice record of latest approved scriptlook at designs and make notes on them and/or approve them hand off meeting with storyboard artist review latest storyboard that was just handed in make notes on storyboard to hand off to revisionists to prepare board for animatic work with editor on cutting new animatic review animation and make notes work on animation rough cut with editor sit with composer and review music score sit with sound editor and review sound fx review final mix of locked fine cut and make sure I’m happy with all the music and sound fx levels before it’s shipped off to the networks reply to emails and notes from the networks on the latest animatic and/or animation rough cut, then implement these notes into the animatics and rough cuts
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I love the variety. In one day I can get to look at some cool designs, read a hilarious script, work with talented voice actors, and work with a sound editor on putting finishing touches on an episode. It’s never boring!
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Probably trying to accommodate all the different notes I receive on an episode is the most challenging aspect of my job. More often than not the notes help to improve the show, but also very often they conflict with the other client’s notes and/or my own vision – so that can be difficult to try to make everyone happy.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
I’ve been very fortunate to have had steady work for a long time now. But even with that long track record of stability I never cease to get a little nervous at the end of each contract and wonder if there’s going to be another series greenlit in time for me to work on next. So I guess it’s that uncertainty in contract work that I find difficult.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?Besides working with Marv Newland at International Rocketship? No, not yet. I was at the Annecy Animation festival back in 1998 and Chuck Jones was supposed to be there as a guest speaker – but he wasn’t doing so well health-wise and couldn’t make the trip. I really wished I could have met him, that’s my all time hero.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Missing Chuck Jones at Annecy. That sucked.
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
I have two young kids aged 2 and 4, so all of my hobbies these days involve playing with them. I guess that makes my hobbies, finger painting, pillow fort building, and cardboard-tube-sword fighting.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I’m able to build a pillow fort with one hand while fending off a sword attack with my other hand.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Network! It’s a cliche, but it really is all about who you know. There’s a lot of talented artists out there, but if you’re talented, hard working AND you happen to know someone that can give you that first opportunity then you should be fine. Also be willing to take any opportunity to get your foot in the door. You may see yourself as a character designer or storyboard artist, but chances are you’re not going to get that position right out of school. Be willing to take a lesser position that can lead to where you want to be. Just get yourself in the studio and be vocal about what job you’d ultimately like to have.
Great article. The very last sentence is a gem: “…get yourself in the studio and be vocal about what job you’d ultimately like to have.”