The Animatress Pipeline

Filmmaking Adventures

Lioness

Yesterday I purged a frenemy, a double agent a “Taylor Mason” from my life. The person in question was my junior on one of the worst productions I ever endured and in his arrogance, made it a point to report the negative sentiments that every time prime time director without positive reinforcement. I let the negativity shape my career, for I thought I was cognitively inept to work in the Los Angeles animation industry. Eventually I left for the San Francisco .dot com industry in pursuit of an easier, yet less lucrative path to work on projects with female protagonists exclusively.

During absence from LA, my “Taylor Mason” ascended to the rank of director on a low quality, yet stable production which has allowed him to pay off his student loans and buy two homes. In contrast, I went to grad school after the animation industry sea change and racked up more student loan debt, but it was not for naught. The experiences generating that extra 80k taught me that how to make enemies and not only endure the pressure of having them, but how to use them!

Everyone needs temperance in their lives. That aspect represented by a person, the weather or some other Threshold Guardian who keeps your wits sharp and your heart humble. However, when the temperance is belligerent it must be managed and when becomes toxic and festers in your psyche, it must be culled before it destroys you. I may love being popular, but I love my well being more. I’m a cephalic being. I cherish my mind and all the worlds it creates the talent it bestows upon my hands to create them visually. This person hit me in that precious ante chamber. He dared to touch and mock the Ark and have ostracized him for it. If he retaliates, I’ll fry him…

Over the past 19 years I’ve interviewed fellow CalArts alum to learn of their accounts of adjusting to the animation industry. Some have come away unscathed, but a great deal more have endured the same trials and made the exact same mistakes I have. They overcame their faults and are directors and producers today. That could’ve been me had I remained in the Loop. I had the potential and the right people recognized it. I also speculate some may have feared that recognition and campaigned against me. There is a fear of the CalArts Loop, derogatorily called the “CalArts Mafia” and I have a wild speculation, that I am still reluctant to entertain, that a Black CalArtian rising to power over the state and  trade school trained artists in the LA industry was just too much to bear, so a shadow and trickster arose to attack my sense of self worth.  It was a tickling in the back of my mind, but I knew the CalArts curriculum had something to do with my difficulty adapting to the television industry. Where you aren’t allowed to produce your best work, but rather how to draw in order to admin your work properly for efficient execution. As Esther Williams said about working in television: 

“We don’t want it good. We want it Wednesday!” I and other CalArtians like me struggled whittling an MGM skill set into a Desilu budget. That’s a lot nicer way of putting things than: “Stop doing that feature shit!” Or “You’re crazy” or the many other insults I will have to look up in AIM archives to share—and they will be shared…

It’s easier said than done, but never let past traumas taint the present or future experiences. Mondo Media thought I was fun (directors are always more forgiving when you are the perfect actor for their characters), the Academy of Art thought I was a great results achieving instructor and ultimately, Sesame Workshop thought I was wonderful. I still made mistakes, but the VFX supervisor of the latter said to me, “You’re not perfect, but I still like you!” John K., despite my abrupt departure from Spumco, said years later, “I will sing your praises (on my blog). Positive reinforcement after a critique is crucial and this trickster shadow has never intentionally offered that courtesy in his assessment of me—and when he did so, it was by accident. Some people can shrug their shoulders and move on from abuse, but I tend to mourn and search for closure. Sometimes closure can be violent. Don’t mess with my dog or I’ll break your privileged, sheltered, self righteous ass in half and don’t make me doubt myself. I’m an even tempered person, but tamper my self-worth and will snap and eat you. Violence is often the best sort of closure there is. I think the trickster-turned-shadow won’t cross my path again, but if another comes I won’t hesitate to defend myself. My Ark is too precious to be insulted.redLioness

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