What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Elroy Simmons and I’m a 2D Traditional Animator (and sometime Director/Designer). I’m also a part-time tutor on the Access to Motion Graphics course for adults at Tower Hamlets College, East London
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I’ve been relatively lucky – so far, in so much as a lot of the stuff I’m able to derive the most pride from, is work I’ve designed and directed – as well as animated; so though the budget may be small, the amount learned is broad and the fulfillment felt is massive (“A Haven In a Brick Jungle”, “No Search/No Entry”). I think the best time I’ve had professionally was working on a cartoon short called “George et Alfred”; it was a ‘souped up’ spin off from a series shown on TF1 called “Ca Cartoon”, and it was broadcast that Christmas. The Director – Mark Woods, wanted two Supervising Animators – and asked me if I wanted the role, and to know who I’d suggest as the other Supervising Animator. I suggested a friend/colleague – Rob Newman. The studio that made the series (and presumably still do) wanted British Animators to work on the cartoon (their thinking was that British and American cartoon animation had ‘compatibility’, and more importantly that British Animators work longer – and for less money. So, for about three months we worked on the short with a crew of French Animators, in Paris, being put up in a Hotel about five minutes from the studio, and the studio even paid for weekly Eurostar travel back to London. Believe me, this level of care is stuff of myth in London. We had a party for all of the crew – even the Producers – at the end of the job. I’ve worked as hard since, but I’m not sure I’ve laughed so much – and I’ve not had reason to be as competent at speaking French since, either.
How did you become interested in animation?
I remember seeing the workmen building the circus tents in”Dumbo” on what must have been “Disney Time” (a show that would pop up on the BBC) when I was very young. I was confused by how they seemed real, but were like moving sweets; I think I was ‘hooked’ then. I’d enjoyed drawing from very young, about 3 years old, but the time I was six, I’d said ‘out loud’ “I want to be an Animator”. My teachers at Primary School (Mrs Sheffield at the time, then Mr Fairhall and later Mr Bandey) were all very aware and very encouraging (I was a bit of a ‘swat’, generally – so it never really interrupted my school progress), so I drew relatively often, regularly pestering my Mum for ‘Drawing Books’ to keep me entertained at home – and then by the time I was eight years old, I’d got into ‘flickbooks’ (Mum was a nurse, so there were thick Medical books that she didn’t mind me drawings on the corners of) – and it just went on from there, really. I remember thinking I could Continue…