They cover the West Coast of America all the way up to Vancouver and it seems to work there as well. They spend money on promotion but not so much on people. The animators are always complaining they are a little slow in paying.
Television is committed to set times: one-hour TV specials and so on, which is unfortunate because the kind of ideas we have might not fit into this sort of space. It is good to discipline yourself and know you can work in a certain area in a certain time. For commercial work it is important to be able to do that, but if it needs to be longer it gets more difficult. Sometimes the animation is really stretched out to fit into a TV time slot which is too bad; unlike the way Bob Godfrey made his Rhubarb series. I am not sure who sponsored that, but they seem to be looser, as if he made them first then asked “Who wants them?” At that time people were still interested in buying that kind of product, now it gets more and more selective, they can’t fit it in any more.
One thing about animation is it’s a small world, when you create some interesting animation you get noticed. It is a good thing to be able to travel, to go to countries and studios which are doing the kind of animation you like. In Holland I turned down the chance to work in commercial animation. Then the studio I was with collapsed. In the meantime I had met somebody from London who liked my style of animation and invited me to go there. When I was free I didn’t hesitate, I went over to England. Then I heard about Canada and thought, “Let’s go to Canada.”
You move around according to which style you want to work in. You have to find a place where they might want you or support you, but it is up to you to do it. If you sit back and wait for them to come to you it never happens. I know a few people who are, maybe good artists, but are real slow. You have to be pushy, to be sure of yourself, know you are good enough and convinced they should learn about you. You have to show them and it’s hard work. Nobody wants you in the first place, especially in the very beginning. You have to find your way in somehow, maybe work on a series, which is often not very interesting.
In my opinion there are too many series being made on the wrong wavelength, the animators could guide commercial people towards what the series should be all about. Very often they are an imitation of live action with ideas and so on which lust use animators tools. But they can be a useful way to learn the trade, to find where the studios are. Quite a few people travel all over the world working on series. If they are fast they earn quite a bit of money and they become familiar with various places. At least you do animation and you learn, maybe you create your own style but be careful not to lose your personality by doing so much stuff for somebody else.
Very often those people do make their own films. But don’t think the immediate aim is to make your own film. You have to suffer a little more before you get that far because
you might have one film sponsored and then the next one is a problem. It takes time to gain experience, you have to see films, and see how good animation can be. Select your style, whatever it may be.
I understand Germany doesn’t have enough support for the arts to be able to do animation. I know of one country where the students are expected to make a 10-minute film in order to get a sponsor. It is impossible for a graduate student to make a good 10-minute film. Its too long – it doesn’t show anything, you stretch it out. It would be better to do a 2 or 3 minute film, it shows your style and how good you are. People who don’t know about animation do not know how to judge it. In live-action a 10-minute film is nothing but in animation it is a lot of work.
Another way of getting sponsorship, that we tried but it has not worked yet, is to make your own film and find a big company to put its name on it. So it is a film by Paul Driessen but sponsored by Philips or Shell. To them the cost of animation would be small for the promotion they would get. The film would be shown all over the world. We need to convince them how popular our animation is and how it would be good for them. Many years ago Philips did do that in Holland with radios and light bulbs.