Insights for Non Artists:
Where We Go and Where We've Been
When I first
heard of Chuck Jones' passing, it saddened me to see the passing
of the creator of so many classic Warner Bros. characters and
stories. I knew many of his works, but hadn't really looked into
his background. What he brought to life on the screen mattered
more to me than where he had come from.
morning, I learned something that moved me to tears. Chuck Jones
was born in Spokane, Washington in September of 1912 before moving
to Hollywood as a youth. Just two days prior, I'd flown home from
Spokane after seeing my own family in nearby Cheney, where I'd
lived for thirteen years before coming to Los Angeles in 1996,
and the place where my own interests as a non-artist in animation
had come to fruition.
I never would have imagined Chuck Jones and I shared the small
common thread of having spent parts of our childhood in the same
area of eastern Washington.
me to what I want to talk about in this column, something I hope
you can all take heart in. With the power of the Internet and
current technologies, you can be reading this column right now
from somewhere in Los Angeles or New York, or in a remote mountain
area if wireless or satellite coverage is sufficient, perhaps
somewhere in between. No matter where you're at, what non-artist
(or even artist) position in animation interests you, you have
the potential to make it in this business if you're willing to
put in the effort -- and to be truthful, willing to move where
the work is. If you're from one of the smaller areas, it can be
very intimidating and scary; I know it was for me. The ability
to self-educate yourself in order to prepare, with so much accessible
via the Internet these days, is tremendous. It matters not where
we come from geographically, but where we come from in our personal
dedication and drive.
me recently they thought getting into and staying in this business
was dependent on fate. I responded that I didn't totally agree,
because fate implies you sit back and do nothing and things will
come to you. Nothing in this business comes without effort, I've
seen it and I've lived it. Persistence, perseverance, talent,
and luck tend to be the terms that I hear from seasoned pros regarding
survival in the business, and I agree with that. For the record,
I don't see luck and fate as equivalent terms, though I've had
people argue it. Fate means it's meant to happen, luck to me is
a matter of things happening together at a particular instant,
and you are fortunate enough to be there at the time. After all,
one can be unlucky... but I'm not sure there's such a clear opposite
You also have
to come prepared to understand that stability doesn't happen in
the animation business, for that matter in the entertainment business
in general. Shows get cancelled, or orders cut back in a heartbeat,
a pilot you've worked long and hard on fails to sell to buyers,
or the company you're working for closes shop. I've been through
most of that list personally, and yes it's not pleasant. If you're
from a smaller town, it totally defies the idea of people working
at the local store (or university, in the case of Cheney) or a
steady career or being farmers all their lives, being at total
odds with the environment you've grown up around. This may be
easier to adjust to if you come from a major metro, I can't speak
from experience on that and would like to hear feedback on the
subject. Regardless, you have to get used to the instability of
the industry as a way of life, going from job to job as you work
your way toward your chosen goal in animation.
To close this
all out, I think the odds of me ever being as great and influential
as Chuck Jones was to our industry are very slim. Yet, both of
us made our way down here by different roads and have made our
mark on this industry in different degrees and ways. Without Chuck
paving the way in the animation industry, who knows how different
the industry might have turned out to be. I might not have wound
up in it... but I did.
And so can
you, if it's truly what you want.
is known in the animation industry for her work as a production
coordinator for Nickelodeon's Invader Zim. She also served as
a Production Coordinator for Extreme Ghostbusters and a Production
Assistant for Jumanji: The Animated Series. Muir is an accomplished
writer and often participates on panels or as a guest speaker
at conventions like Comic Con International.
to Los Angeles in 1996 from Cheney, WA (population approximately
8,000), knowing she wanted to be part of the animation business.
Since then, she's never strayed far from making that dream reality,
whether it be actively working on a production or writing articles
about the industry.
You can email
Shannon Muir at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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