So I’ve decided to interview a few animators from Ireland or who have worked in Ireland, and are now working abroad. The interviews are for a report later on in the year but I’m going to post up some of the interviews on the blog.
So here is some of the interview from Disney Animator, Doug Bennett. Doug has some amazing posts under his belt including Animator on Fantasia2000, Tarzan, Dinosaur and Treasure Planet. Supervising Animator on Chicken Little (Runt and Fish Out of Water) Animation Supervisor on Bolt
1/ What is your background history within Animation and how did your career begin?
I attended Sheridan College in Ontario, Canada from 1985-88. I had worked for a couple of summers at Nelvana, a studio in Toronto that was producing TV shows such as Care Bears, Johnny Quest and My Pet Monster. I was mid way through my third year of college when I got a job offer from Don Bluth Studios to come to Dublin. Animation jobs were scarce at the time so I figured taking the job and leaving school was my best option.
2/ What was the decision to come to Ireland?
Like I said, it was the job offer at Bluth. They were one of the few studios doing animated feature films at the time and it was a great opportunity.
3/ Looking back at your experiences, how did you find working in Ireland?
It was certainly a culture shock at first– I had never been to Europe and knew very little about Ireland. I arrived in early February– a miserable time of year weather wise, as you know! I was shocked by how expensive everything was, even back then, and of course it took a while to get my bearings as far as day to day life. I became very homesick but at the same time I was having a great time and making good friends, many of whom I am still in regular contact with.
4/ When leaving Ireland, how difficult or easy was it to get/look for a job on returning home/elsewhere?
Back then, having work from a Don Bluth film on your reel was a relatively prestigious thing. My reel, and the connections that I had made at the studio, helped me land a job in Toronto as soon as I returned there in the early nineties. The same was true when I returned to Dublin a couple of years after that. In 1995 Disney came to Dublin on a recruiting trip, and that’s when I was hired to work here. I’ve been very fortunate in that I have never been out of work during my 20+ years in animation, and I think that a large part of that was the early experience I got working in Ireland at Sullivan Bluth.
5/ What type of advice do you think you would’ve wanted when bringing your career abroad?
First and foremost, don’t be afraid to go! You can always go back home if it doesn’t work out. Immerse yourself in the culture. Work hard. Travel light.
6/ What are the pros and cons of working away from home?
The biggest con I suppose is homesickness. But I found that after a quick trip back home I realized that nothing had changed there, everyone was still the same and living their lives– I wasn’t missing anything by being away. The pros are numerous. Not just the work experience but the life experience is especially important, because it’s the life experience that make you a better artist. Also, the contacts you make are hugely beneficial. I know people all over the world from my time in Ireland. And most importantly for me, I met my wife there! She was born and raised in Dublin.
7 What was the learning curve like when working in Ireland and in Disney?
Steep. But if the learning curve isn’t steep, that means you’re not learning much! I’ve always felt I had an insurmountable hill in front of me. I think it’s a good thing.
8/ Do you have any words of wisdom for animation artists on how to travel with a portfolio and networking in search of work?
Make some sort of contact before you go, and use it when you get there. Don’t just show up cold. Make sure your reel is short and shows your absolute best.
Here is another resourceful link to an interview with Doug