What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Amit Tishler. Aside from being a freelance super-villain I’m currently working on a couple of projects: one as an animator for Hallmark’s new platform: “Feeln'” on a soon to be announced original series and one as an art director for a small team on a comic book called “Tales of Lyla” for 10 Forward Productions, Inc.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I’ve worked for a center for rare diseases, as an information center assistant. I got to see quite a collection of gruesome photos and scary articles I really could have lived without seeing. I did learn quite a lot though, so I’m glad I did it.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?Aside for the current project I’ve been working on, which I am proud of but unfortunately cannot name, I recently worked in the Hothouse Productions animation team for Adult Swim’s “Mr. Pickles”, which I was very proud to take part in. The product is awesome and the studio and its team are some of the best I’ve ever worked with. Watch this show people! Another notable project is a music video I co-directed with super-artist Luke Ellison (http://lukeellison.com) for the metal band “Menace”, led by Mitch Harris from the band Napalm Death. I’ve never had a business meeting in the backstage area of a Cannibal Corpse/Napalm Death concert up until that point. As a devoted metal fan I’d say that’s a note worthy achievement.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from Tel Aviv, Israel. I was aiming for this business since I was 12 years old. I graduated with my undergraduate degree in animation from Bezalel- Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem in 2008. I then worked as an animator for a couple of years in the local industry until I moved to the states in 2010. In 2012 I graduated from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design’s MFA program with a graduate degree in animation and shortly after I moved to California and started my takeover of the animation industry. I’ve been around since.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Breakfast, animating, talking to clients, second breakfast, reviewing work, hustling like there’s no tomorrow and that’s just before first lunch!
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
Seeing the final result shine. The process is a mixed bag. I have a love-hate relationship with it. But no matter how much frustration you may have from every bump in the road: when the end result is something you can take pride in, it makes it worth the pain. I may talk differently 10 years from now, but damn it Jim, I’m an animator, not a fortune teller.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
The politics, and whenever a production has bad management. I’ve been quite lucky with my last few gigs as far as fantastic managers and a kick-ass team. But when dirty politics happen and teams crumble and suffer under bad leads: it’s something all artists suffer from. And every artist has suffered from that in their career, me included.
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 get to work a lot with Adobe Flash, Photoshop and Premiere. As someone who was originally trained as a traditional animator technologies like the Cintiq and these programs made a huge difference. In my undergrad years I used a wooden table, a plastic peg and a truck load of papers. I’m not a sentimental person but a more practical one. So I think Technology did a lot more good than harm to artists in this medium in terms of efficiency, flexibility, general comfort and its effects on the environment. Also, as a production manager or director seemingly “basic” pieces of software like Dropbox and Google Drive made a huge difference as far as team communication and production organization go. So before the machines take over and destroy humanity, I would like to thank them and their engineers for making our professional lives more convenient.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Aside from the obvious need to constantly look for the next project (due to the lack of job security) pushing innovation or any so called creative “risk” is tough with an industry this old and set in its ways. But is it worth it for all of us to be working towards better content, better conditions for everyone and a vision of a more stable and sustainable industry model .
If you could change the way the business works and is run how would
you do it?
Firstly, I would gradually limit the outsourcing craziness that has been plaguing this industry. When a business needs to hire a team of 30 people just to correct mistakes done by an outsourcing studio, turning the production into a living hell for everyone involved and causing the production costs to nearly match with in-house production costs: this model hardly proves itself as effective. The publicly declared major losses for the state of California due to outsourcing work this year pretty much proved that this deeply hurts the state’s economy. More animation needs to be done here in the states, we have the talent and we have the manpower. Saving a few bucks does not justify bankrupting an entire industry and crashing the entire job market. Secondly, I would make the industry more open to new talent. I dug my way through, but most talented artists never even experience a full time contract. This is partially due to the brutal outsourcing that limits the amount of jobs available, but also due to a system that relies more on inside recommendations than talent development. Thanks to that, only a handful of us consistently work. While that system serves my needs, pretending it’s healthy for an industry to have the same people work on everything with little to no new talent is dangerous. I do believe, however, that if the outsourcing problem slowly disappears, the need for more talent to work will solve at least a portion of this problem. But the responsibility to seek, assess and hire new talent, without heavy reliance on nepotism, or professional /personal familiarity is on every job creator in this industry.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I haven’t had the chance to meet any animation legends that I can remember unfortunately. I did however, get to walk around many epic studio hallways and meet quite a few interesting film producers, directors and writers.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Haven’t had the easiest life, so watch the biographical movie about my life when it comes out. I’ll make sure every scene has explosions and robot dinosaurs. As I said, not the easiest life.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
I’m always working on something on the side. I’ve been co-developing multiple TV show bibles and pitching them to large networks under 10 Forward Productions’ wing. I’ve been art directing and co-writing the comic book: Tales of Lyla, (art by: Kristen Robertson: http://howling-wolf-design.blogspot.com/) I’ve also been running my own , extremely metal web-comic called Blackest Knight for a while now, updating episodes quite frequently. http://blackestknightcomic.tumblr.com/ And finally, I’ve been working on a production me and my writing partner, talented actor Robert Dunne have just optioned to a studio, that we hope will get it picked up for a pilot.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I can smash your entire china collection to bits in less than 10 seconds, no matter how big or well defended it is. I’m a professional klutz. As far as hobbies go, I watch way too many TV shows and movies. It needs to stop, seriously. Help. I can’t take much more of this.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
If you want to be part of this business you have to push, and push hard. There’s a lot of talent and few spots to fill. So you have to shine, both as a person and as an artist. Do not be ashamed to ask for help and never step on other people or stand in good people’s way. Help other artists and they will help you too. We are all in this small industry together, so strive to develop mutual love and respect with your colleagues, both co-workers and superiors. Never sell yourself short, never work for free unless it’s for yourself or a close friend. Learn to negotiate and know your worth as an artist and an employee. Do not let anyone tell you that you should be grateful for working, and on the flip side, do not feel like your employer should be grateful for you to be working for him. It is a business exchange and should be treated as such between both parties. And finally: have the guts to push creativity. Have the courage to act to change the business for the better in any way you can, never get too comfortable or jaded about your and other people’s situations and learn to work for everyone’s benefit, along with and not in place of your own.