What is your name and your current occupation?
Ron Yavnieli – Creator of “Gorillaville” currently airing on DreamworksTV.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I was a professional Horse’s Ass – Once as teenagers, my brother and I were hired to be part of a 2 man “Horse” costume at a birthday party. Y’know, where one guy is the front legs and head, and the other guy is the hind legs and back. Since I’m the younger brother, I had to be the ass.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Well I’m most proud of my current project – Gorillaville.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I grew up in Miami Fl. My first real job in animation was in 1997 at a Miami studio called “Deep Blue Sea” doing traditional animation for commercials. I also got to do a little storyboarding and character design. That was an awesome job and happy times.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
The main thing I have to do every day is write scripts, draw storyboards, and character designs as well as supervise the work of freelancers. Being the creator and show runner, there are a lot of unique challenges that come up day to day.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
Everything! The fact that it’s my own show and that I get to make it the way I want to. I get to write, storyboard, design, animate, do voices, not to mention produce and direct. I really love leading a team and getting to be the “Walt” of my own crew.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
The stress that comes with the above.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis, how has technology changed in the last few years in your field and how has that impacted you in your job?
I use a mac laptop. I use Flash and Toon Boom Storyboard Pro. I draw on a Cintiq and then when I get restless I use a small Wacom tablet. Since I farm some work out, I also use Skype and dropbox a lot. Thank God for modern technology! As for impact of recent changes, I think it’s great. The world has become a lot smaller in a good way. I compare the current change to the way music changed from Big Band Jazz to Rock and Roll in the 50’s. Because of a few technological advances, it only took 3 or 4 guys to make a sound as big as one that used to take 50 people to make just a few years earlier. It’s the same with animation over the last 15 years. Nowadays 2 or 3 guys can create something as amazing as what used to take hundreds of people to produce. There are some pluses and minuses associated with that. There’s way more artistic freedom, and opportunities for getting your work out there (thanks to youtube) but the down side is, there’s less job security. That said, I think most animators, and most other artists for that matter, didn’t get in to the field for job security anyway.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Hard to say now because I’m finally doing what I want to do! I guess before that, the hard part was the sporadic, mercurial nature of the biz. You never know when work will come, or if it will pay well enough or if it will lead to more.
If you could change the way the business works and is run how would you do it?
I think it’s changing on it’s own and I like it! There is more and more stuff like I just described being done. Now, this may sound a bit contradictory but one thing I’d change if I had the power to, is bring back traditional 2D animation in a permanent way to the studios. Bring it back to Disney, WB, everywhere. CG is great but it can totally coexist with traditional. There’s no reason for it to be gone. Everyone loves it and wants it back.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Yes. I’ve met and spoken to quite a few animation legends over the years : Glen Keane, John Lasseter, Eric Goldberg, to name drop a few. But the biggest ‘Geek out’ moment I ever had was a few years ago at Comic-con when I met Will Vinton. I shook his hand and told him “You’re the reason I became an Animator!”. Claymation is my first love and even though I haven’t done any in a long time, it will always have a special place in my heart.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
I’m not gonna’ lie, producing Gorillaville is tough. But damn is it FUN! And rewarding! Those three often go together.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
No time for side projects. Gorillaville has my full attention and will for the foreseeable future!
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I’m a Stand Up comic and Voice Actor. I’m also a pretty good singer, and a pretty good cook.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
If you’re looking to get hired by a studio and/or get freelance work: Always do your best work. Always deliver on time, Be pleasant and agreeable. Remember the following phrase: First give them what THEY want. Then give them what YOU want. Make sure that whatever job or freelance gig you get out of school serves at least 1 of the following 3 purposes: 1. It should be fun/artistically fulfilling 2. It should advance your career 3. It should pay well. 2 out of 3 is better. 3 out of 3 is ideal, but unfortunately very rare. If it’s none of those, don’t do it. Always get a contract from your clients before you start work. Always show your contract to someone you trust with these matters before you sign it. Hire an entertainment lawyer to look at all your contracts. If you have doubts, hire another lawyer for a second opinion. If you can’t afford an hourly fee, which most artists starting out can’t, find an attorney who will work on contingency or for a percentage of your profits. There are plenty of good ones out there who do that. If you’re looking to pitch ideas and/or produce your own projects: Register all your materials: pitch packets, pitch bibles, scripts, story outlines, character designs etc. with the WGA and the US Copyright office as you complete them. Both can be found on line. It’s easy and cheap. You can register material in a few minutes, and then you can relax because you and your work are protected. If you’re collaborating with someone, split the cost of a lawyer (or see above re: percentages) and hire said lawyer to write a collaboration agreement between you and your partner(s). In will protect you all in the long run, make it easier to work together, and keep your friendship(s) intact. If you sell something, the same thing I said above re: hiring an attorney to look at your contract applies here too. Get out there and pitch pitch pitch. They’ll say no again and again until they say yes. Keep trying until they do. Someone will say yes to you eventually. If they don’t, go on kickstarter or indiegogo and raise the money to do it yourself. One way or another, find a way to get it made. As Winston Churchill said: “Never never never give up!”