What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Christo Stamboliev and my current job is a Storyboards Artist on “Monsters Vs. Aliens”
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Before starting in Animation I didn’t have another jobs. I was basicly preoccupied with my education and after graduation I landed a job in Klasky Csupo’s Animation Studio in Los Angeles. As a student I did few freelance jobs as an illustrator and some other odd stuff /working in factories or farm work for a week or two/ but nothing crazy.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
My absolute favorite is “The Penguins of Madagascar” where I was an Animation Director on season 2 and 3 and won 2 Emmys for my work. Another absolute favorite was working with Igor Kovalyov on his two short films “Milch” and “Flying Nansen”. Igor is one of the most tallanted people I have ever met and I absolutely adore him.
How did you become interested in animation?
I was 19 and just graduating my vocational education in arts when I decided that I must apply and take the exams in The National Film Academy. The Exams were very tough /I believe there were 250 applicants for 5 spots/ but I managed and got accepted. From there on my fate was sealed.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I was born in Bulgaria in 1971 /which practically makes me a child of the “Cold War”/. A friend of mine who was studying in Pitsburg in the mid 1990’s was helping me sent my short film on some festivals in the US and Canada, I came to the Aspen Shortsfest as a guest and part of the official selection, got some phone numbers and Klasky Csupo was the most receptive of all the companies I was in touch with. They offered me a internship helping Igor on his short “Flying Nansen” and gave me my working visa.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Arrive-cofee-check my e-mails-work a bit-check facebook-cofee-work a bit-you tube-bagel-chit chat-lunch-work a bit- facebook-cofee-chit chat-go home.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I like directing and storyboarding; directing more, because I have to work in the editing, fine tune timing and make dramatic /sometime/ changes with minimum effort- like moving shots around or taking out a panel or two. It is very rewarding.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
I don’t like the clean up stage when I do storyboards, it’s time consuming and sometimes tedious; although sometimes I get to change my original idea about a shot /or address notes/ and make things better than orriginally conceived, which is nice.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Photoshop and Wacom Cintiq.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Talking with the bosses, negotiating salaries, political maneuverings.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I saw a lot of great stuff in my festival rounds in 1997-8. There’s a lot of great stuff that’s shown in festivals around the world, that is lost in the US-there’s simply no interest here about that part of Animation. Most people here know and admire Chuck Jones and that’s it.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Sleeping for about a week in my car in downtown Long Beach. soon after arriving in the US.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
Nothing. I spend my spare time nowadays windsurfing or riding my bikes /dirt and race track/
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I can do hard manual labor. I did a lot of work on my house and it came out great. Like building a deck, a shed, laying tiles and so on. It’s really great to do simple things- like drink beer /with whoever is around/ all sweaty wearing messed up clothes and dirty nails, after the work is done or during a break.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Show some talent, try to be unique.