What is your name and what is your primary job?
Lauren Montgomery: Director/Producer of DC Direct to DVD movies at Warner Bros Animation
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Animation was my first REAL job. I had one job answering phones for a summer during college that I hated. And before that I did some babysitting during high school, which I also hated. But my first real job was right out of college as a Storyboard artist at Mike Young Productions on He-Man and the Masters of the Universe in 2002.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I’ve had the good fortune of being able to work on a lot of properties I’ve been proud to be a part of.
Justice League Unlimited
Avatar: The Last Airbender
Green Lantern: First Flight
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
How did you become interested in animation?
I always loved cartoons. Not only as a kid, but as I grew up, I never really grew out of animation like so many others do. I always loved art as well. Drawing more than painting or other media, and drawing characters I liked. This was often frowned upon if I was enrolled in an after school art class. They wanted to teach you about the masters of painting. I just wanted to draw Ariel.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I am from Southern California, born and raised. More specifically, Fullerton in Orange County. I eventually went to Loyola Marymount University for their animation department which is where I met my storyboarding teacher, Jay Oliva, who gave me my first job under him on He-Man.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
It can be different every day. Some days I get to sit in my office and actually work on storyboards. Other days I barely get to set foot into my office for more than a half hour because I’m in editing, or a record, or color meetings, or design meetings, or whatever else they throw at you.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I love storyboarding the best. It’s always been my favorite part. It the time I get to be most creative and do a lot of the work that is going to be on screen. It’s one of many steps in which you can make or break the film, but it’s the funnest for me. It’s where I try to really make the visual storytelling of my films stand out if I can.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Meetings. Especially if you just have to attend those meeting because of a formality. If you actually accomplish something in the meeting, it can be less annoying. But those time wasting meetings just drive me nuts.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Just realizing the reality of it. Everyone wants to think it’s all about the art, but that’s just not true. It’s a business like everything else and businesses have to make money to stay afloat. So realizing that certain properties that I’d love to work with are almost never going to become a reality because they just aren’t mass marketable can be a downer. Especially for me, working in action adventure animation, there’s very little chance of ever being able to make a female driven action show. The action adventure portion of animation is very male driven, mostly because it is funded by toys, and studies show that little boys buy toys and little girls don’t. So the content goes where the money goes, which is toward toys for young boys. But every once in a while I get to work on a really good property that defies the odds. That makes it worth while.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
I work on a Cintiq regularly. I also work with Photoshop, and Toonboom: Storyboard Pro.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I’ve been lucky enough to work with Bruce Timm on many projects. He is definitely one of the greats of Action Adventure animation.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
I can’t really think of any that were animation based. Probably the toughest was having to quit for the first time. In animation, everything is project to project. It used to be that once a project was done and you hit your end date, you were free to take time off or pursue whatever other project you wanted to work on. But recently, studios have been trying to hold on to talent because the talent pool is getting smaller and smaller with everyone being snatched up by all the different studios. So when a project cam up that I wanted to work on at another studio, I had to quit my current job at the time since they weren’t laying me off in between projects. I’ve never had to do that.
Any side projects you’re working on you’d like to share details of?
Yes, but unfortunately, I can’t share much about it.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Know how to draw. It’s one of the most important things that I look for in a new employee. Studios can offer entry level or training positions in just about everything else. But nobody is going to employ someone that they’ll have to teach to draw from scratch. That’s your job…. to know how to draw before you come into the industry.
What is your name and your current occupation?