In the Shadow of greatness: How I got my Job on THE SIMPSONS.
THE SIMPSONS NEWS
So while I wait for show #8 to start up again, I was put on show #9. The Director of Show #9 is Chris Clements and the Assistant Director (A.D.) is Matt Faughnan (whose directed his share of shows and has also directed some Simpsons DVD menus. Yes, those things need directors also.)
Chris has a very interesting internet hobby that I will talk about under the video game section below. Meanwhile I just thought I’d really quickly tell you something about my history with Chris.
If you’ve listened to any of my interviews, you know that I started on the show as an intern right out of high school. I used to drive down to Rowland Heights high school after school and take an animation class. That is were I learned to animate and how I got my internship. Well, I met Chris at Rowland because he also took the animation class. In fact Chris actually went to Rowland. Chris was one of the “star” artists in the class. He’s one of those people who seem to be able to do what others find difficult with perfect ease. It’s very annoying. Animation seems to be a natural extension of his being. When he does it, it looks effortless. Not only that but he can draw really well too. He just seems to be able to assimilate the principles of drawing as if they were obvious. Like I said, it’s annoying.
Anyway, it turned out that in the summer of 1993, Chris and I were picked for the three month internship to the Simpsons’ studio. The thing is, I was not (and I’m still not), anywhere near as good an artist/animator as Chris. Man, did I have a tough time. The good thing about being with Chris was that because he was so good, everyone assumed that I was good also. The bad thing was that once they saw my work compared to Chris’ I was given a pat on the head and a look of pity. It was really frustrating. Chris and I managed to get some small things to draw here and there on the show so that we could show what we could do. It was obvious whose work everyone favored. It was very difficult for me. I had given up a scholarship to Otis (an art school in LA) in order to take the internship. I really wanted to get a job out of the internship because if I didn’t, I would have to find a way to go to school without the scholarship. I remember there were many days when I came home and just started crying in frustration at how bad my stuff was. I saw in Chris’ work what I didn’t have.
After the three months were up Chris and I got hired. To this day, I’m still convinced the only reason they hired me was because they felt sorry for me. They didn’t want to hire Chris and leave me out. I worked my butt off at the job that season. In the end, it wasn’t good enough. When hiatus time came and I was laid off, they had no plans on hiring me back. I spent my hiatus going to drawing classes. I reapplied at the show and thanks to the goodness of one of my all time favorite directors to have worked with, Jeff Lynch, they hired me back. I actually owe Jeff my career.
To make a very long story short, Chris quickly rose through the ranks. He became an A.D. after about four or five seasons (I think) and he’s recently became a Director. Now he is my Director, and you know what, I don’t mind at all. I actually really like him as my Director. I’ve worked under him in a couple of his shows now and they have all been a lot a fun. I’ve learned to appreciate the people that are annoyingly good at what you are trying to do. It forces you to strive to improve yourself, but more importantly, it keeps you humble. The fastest way for an artist to stop improving is for him to believe he’s learned all he needs to know. Having someone better than you will always give you something to shoot for.
Chris has a website. It’s at www.nickelarcade.com . Go visit it right NOW! It’s full of flash based video games that he’s created himself and they are all FREE. There are a lot of Simpsons artist that go and play at the site. Most of the names on the site’s high score sheets belong to Simpsons artists. Go and see if you could beat their scores. Chris makes the games for fun. It’s his hobby (crazy). The site has been up for years check it out.
So I put up my Italy trip journal. If you look up under the Amazon ad, you will see some tabs. One read, “Home” another, “About me”, but the third one reads, “Illustrated trip to Italy” Click on that tab and you can read it or just click HERE.
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