What is your name and your current occupation?
I run a stopmotion animation on the south coast of England called, FoolHardy Films.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Tons and tons of Jobs, in fact most of your time is spent working in jobs other than animation…if you want to do a job you love. I have been a tyre fitter, care worker, picture framer, bingo caller, post man…I could go on.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I am very proud of my short film Pushkin, it won many awards. And I would have to say the work I do for Nickelodeon’s Nick Jr channel I’m very proud of. I write animate and direct a series of one minute funnies for Nick Jr entitled, Watermill Farm. They get a great response from people who see them and that is very rewarding for me.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Get up, get my boy up and ready for school whilst Denise my wife, brushes and hair dryers her hair, she drives off to work, I take ‘Jazz’ my boy to school. Come back to studio, continue with whatever is in production, 3 o clock collect Jazz, come home, make dinner, pack lunches etc…6.30 ish go back down to studio…continue the party!
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
Being paid to do a job you love, unbelivable that you could be paid to do something you love, Amazing, dosn’t get any better.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
When the work dries up and you have to go back into the real world, that is the problem with this line of work. I am very capable when it comes to animation, clients call me, I draw them up ideas, concept designs, talk with them, have meetings, produce the work, animate it, edit it, put all the sound effects on, get paid well for doing so…lovely chubbly…then the misery and horror kicks in. Going out to do a normal job. This I am not so good at, I have to go for untrained work, so it is generally badly paid, no fun, I hate every second of it and long to get back to the studio…living with the constant fear of the work drying up is the worst part.
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?
Well this is a question! I could do a whole page of A4 on this question alone. When I started animating, i used a little super 8 camera, tiny little view hole at the back, shooting blind, no video assist and the finished thing came back from the lab as litle 8mm pictures….Now, you can shoot on a 35mm digital still camera, with a live view to a broadcast 27″ TV monitor with instant live view, full colour all signing and all dancing, basically it’s like going from a 1978 Ford Fiesta to a 2012 Ferrari.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
I spend a hell of a lot of time on my own. I tend to do most of it myself because I am just not in the position to employ, so I tend to be a one man band, which has it’s good points but having no one to share a laugh with is definitely a low point for me.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Er….I did work down at Aardman for a very short time and obviously met all the Aardman greats, Pete Lord, Nick Park, etc etc…and I met Bob Godfrey once, he was a lovely bloke.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Blimey, who hasn’t had these, I have a whole bunch..I could tell you the sad or the funny??? I’m gonna go with funny. I once worked for a sunroof fitting firm. One day my boss came in and said to me, ” We have just got a nice big order from Ford, they want us to fit around 60 pop top sunroofs in all the their cars in the showroom down the road”…So for the rest of the day, I would put in a sunroof, finish it, my boss would drive in another car and so on…until about 10 cars down the line, when for some unknown reason this particular sun roof was going in properly, I messed around with it, trying to adjust it, pulling it about but it just wouldn’t fit right..then the horror struck, my boss had been driving in cars facing forward but for some reason he had reversed this one in and I had fitted the sunroof in the back of the car! He wasn’t impressed!
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
I have just finished two short 5 min films that I am currently sending around the festivals and I have a nice idea for a children’s series that I want to pitch to Nickelodeon…they just don’t know it yet! He he.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I find that being an animator and running an animation studio pretty much fills up my life, any spare time is spent with family and friends, although I am a member of an amateur acting company and we do shows and pantomimes, plus I have just signed up for a 12 week course in stand up comedy…that’s a laugh!
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
I too am trying to break in, I have been trying for 13 years, I am not sure if you ever get to the stage where you consider yourself in? Every time you set yourself a goal and you reach it, you then move the goal posts and start again. Maybe when you get to the dizzy heights of Aardman, then maybe you think “Yep, we’ve landed” But My advice would be, don’t think I need to be at this point, then I have made it, just keep going, don’t give yourself limits or goals, just keep swimming and try to enjoy the now! If you are at college, enjoy the new friends you’ve made, enjoy thinking up films, characters etc…don’t think, What Next???What Next???? before you know it, you are off and saying goodbye to everyone…and have a beer for me and the student union.