Recently, contributor Courtney Elyse Mason (Mason to Animation) met with Fred Seibert of Frederator Studios. An account of her interview is below.
Adventure Time characters adorning every item of furniture, lego constructed coffee tables, and primary colors splashed and strewn about among every type of poster imaginable. I knew I was revisiting a dream, took a bad trip, or was in Frederator Studios.
Fred was just as jovial and wise as I imagined. I sat down and he read me immediately. “You can stop being nervous now.” Okay… okay, got it. I gave him my background info before diving into what he was there to help me with. Truthfully, I was there to absorb any bit of wisdom or advice this guy had; he was full of great one-liners.
Courtney: With animation, what is the difference between the movie industry and the TV industry?
Fred: The movie industry is like an orchestra. TV is more like a rock band. In an orchestra, the music doesn’t really belong to anyone. It’s about the sound it makes as a whole. There is a constant swapping of members that make up this orchestra depending on the sound they make as a whole. In a rock band, the lead creator of the band is the one who is there for all executive decisions. They own the band. They are the main sound and voice that is heard no matter what the networks or producers say, the main creator or artist has the final say.
C: When pitching a show, is the creator of the shows mostly artists or writers?
F: All of our current shows were pitched by artists, some who are self-taught and some who are highly trained. However, a good number of shows are pitched from writers who then appoint the artists they want with the style that they envisioned for the show.
C: Is a formal animation education important in landing a job in this industry?
F: No. One guy never went to college because he couldn’t afford it and worked as a security guard. Others like the creator of Adventure Time [Pendelton Ward] went to Cal Arts. He didn’t have the best drawing ability, but his personality and sense of story were extremely entertaining.
C: What got you into animation?
F: I owned my own advertising agency, and I hated it. So I quit and moved to California. I didn’t know anything about producing shows for animation before I went out there. If I didn’t move to California, I wouldn’t be in animation. Don’t get stuck in New York. It’s a good step in the right direction, but the place you need to be is out there.
C: What can you anticipate coming in the next decade in terms of trends/style themes?
F: If I knew the answer to that, then I’d be a genius. But I think there is going to be a rise in female creators for shows. Out of the thousands of pitches we get, we liked 300 of them. And out of 300 only ten were submitted by women. I hope to see that changing very soon.
C: What advice would you give to people trying to get into the industry?
F: Move. You gotta. Take the plunge into the deep end; you’ll see that the water ain’t so bad. Because the truth is you gotta be where the work is. Because — put yourself in an employer’s shoes; are you going to hire you, who is 3,000 miles away, or the girl down the road who already has animation experience? And even if you don’t get the job right away, [it’s] better to be a barista at the Starbucks at pixar than it is to be a graphic designer in New York. Because the graphic designer in New York isn’t meeting the animation people that could get you a job (well, unless you are a go-getter and use LinkedIn). But yes, in all seriousness, you have a chance by just being there. By being anywhere but where the action is, you don’t have much of a chance.
Best One Liner: ”Trying to get into animation in New York is like being a straight girl trying to get a date at a Gay Bar. It’s not gonna be your ‘type.’”