Is it really almost November?

Is it really almost November?  This year has been flying by, and will be over before we know it.  I guess that is what happens when you are having fun?  This year has been a very busy year with running the business.  I feel that I’m learning new things everyday, and there is always challenges to overcome.  To me the challenges are part of the appeal of running my own company.  There is no roadmap that will work for every company, and it requires you to constantly readjusting your strategy.  Below is a quick update on some of the things I have been working on lately.


It is really great to see everything coming together.  All the models for the first episode are now built, and both Bink and the Hand are in-progress on the rigs. I have started to see very early surfacing work on Bink which is awesome to see.  I would share the renders, but I think it is a little early for that.  We should be able to start animation in November if everything stays on schedule.

The other big thing I have been working on is trying to line up the voice talent.  I’m looking for a female voice for a scientist that makes announcements over a PA system, things like “Ready to initiate testing”.  As well as the voice for Bink, and this has been much more challenging.  I think I have a few options for the female scientist, but nothing for the voice for Bink.  I’m looking for a unique voice that is similar to the way minions, or Stitch talks.  A unique language that you can’t really understand most of the time, but occasionally there are words you do understand.  I recorded my son “talking” to use as an example, since when he talks it is very cute and you can occasionally make out an actual word. If you are anyone you know might be interested please let me know.  Here is the link to the VO project.

LA Society of Creative Professionals:

This last Tuesday we had our 4th monthly society mixer, and it was another great turnout.  So far our attendance for our events have ranged from 10-50 people.  I have been meeting a lot of really great and talented people, and hopefully others are enjoying the events and getting something out of it themselves.  I feel that no matter what you do networking is a key to being successful.  Plus I just love meeting new people, and learning about their unique lives.  I always show up to the mixers early to get things setup, and there is always this fear that no one will show up.  So far that has not happened yet, and hopefully it never does.


This week I have been learning a great deal about authorized and issued shares.  I have been having a highly debated conversation with my CPA and my attorney on how many shares we should issue, and how many we should save.  According to the articles of incorporation for Eric Miller Animation Studios we are authorized to have 100,000 shares.  I learned that it is a good idea to not issue all of them, and save some for later.  For example my attorney suggested only issuing 100 shares to me.  Since there are only 100 shares issued I’m still 100% owner, but it gives me extra to bring on partners, or offer to employees.  The debate has been how many shares to issue, 100, 25,000, or some other number.  It seems my CPA and attorney had different opinions, so we had to work out each of their reasonings for me to make a decision.

Part of that discussion is also how much I should spend on those initial shares.  My attorney explained to me “The greater the capitalization, the stronger EMAS is against an attack that it should be disregarded as an alter ego. Alter ego is a judicial doctrine that says that people should not be able to hide behind a corporate form if the corporation is inadequately capitalized and fails to comply with corporate formalities. If the corporation is found to be your alter ego, then you will be personally liable for its debts. If “the corporate veil is pierced” then a creditor could get a judgment against you individually. This defeats much of the purpose of incorporating.”

So as you see I have some pretty important decisions I’m trying to make.  As I mentioned I’m learning so much each day about a variety of different things I would have never learned about if I did not start my own company.

We are having another baby:

My wife and I made the announcement yesterday on Facebook that we are expecting another baby in May of 2016. We are both very excited for the new family member, but it is also very scary.  It is very challenging to have one child so having another it will be more of a challenge.  Having a house payment, two kids and in the second year of starting my own company is enough to stress anyone out a little.  I’m positive we will find a way to make it all work as we did with our first one.


Well, there is a quick run down of some of the things I have going on in my life.  Thank you for reading about my journey in starting my business, and as always leave me comments below.  I love reading about what is on your minds, and your responses to my posts.


If you have not already, I hope you will join me on my journey by subscribing to my blog.  If you have any thoughts or advice I would love to hear what you have to say, so please feel free to leave me any comments below. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@MillerAnimation). Only Time Will Tell.

Eric Miller Animation June Update

I wanted to give everyone a June Update on everything I’m working on with the company.  Although I don’t currently have any client projects I’m working on I’m still pretty busy with many other tasks.  Here are some of the things I’m currently working on.

Animated Short
I mentioned in an earlier post I was working on a CG animated short.  We are making progress with it, but have been taking our time to make sure it looks great.  As I write this we are working on the design of the main character, as well as brainstorming the set location.  To keep costs down it will be in one simple set that we can reuse for the different episodes. Once we finish the character design phase we will start modeling the character, and then rig it for animation.  At the same time we work on the character rig we will also be surfacing it.

Motion Graphics Sizzle Piece
Since we are offering 3 main services, Animation, Visual Effects, and Motion Graphics, I wanted to make sure I had examples of the different styles of work we can do.  The Toys”R”Us commercials are great examples for VFX, and the Animated short will be the example of our animation work.  That leaves me needing something to show off what we can do with motion graphics.  I have been working on putting a sizzle piece together to help show clients what we can do.

I have been talking with some motion graphics artists about a piece that will show off what our crew can do with motion graphics.  We are still early in the discussions, but I’m excited about the direction that it is heading.  I will keep you updated as we move along with it.

Business Plan
I have been trying to find the time to put together a business plan, and I finally got started with it.  It seems silly that simply writing out your plan would have such an impact, but it has already helped me a great deal.  It got me thinking about things I have not thought about yet, and gave me some ideas on how to grow my business. I have not got to the mission statement section yet, but I’m looking forward to working on that.

My company is currently a sole proprietorship, but for some time now I have been looking into changing it into a S-Corp.  There are several reasons I’m planning on doing this, but the two main ones are limited liability, and tax savings.  It will also allow me to raise money by selling shares if I decide to go that route.  I have been talking with my CPA, and next plan to talk to an attorney about it.  As long as everything works out I should be moving forward with this in the next month.

LA Society of Creative Professionals
I mentioned in my last post about forming a society to plan monthly outings, and activities for networking and fun. Well I have setup a Facebook group for it, and plan on working on getting our first outing on the calendar.  If you are in the LA area, and in the animation, visual effects, or motion graphics fields please join the group to find out about our events.  I think this will be a lot of fun, and who knows it might help you find your next project, or new friends.  Visit the Facebook group.

Finding New Clients
Another thing that is a constant for me is looking for new clients.  This is by far the most difficult part of running your own company.  These are skills that you don’t learn while working for a large corporation, and has been a huge learning experience for me.  I have been cold-calling/emailing, but have not had much luck with that.  I have tried getting a commercial rep, but I have not found any that don’t already have a full roster of companies.  I have been doing a lot of networking, but still no leads.  The thing with networking is that you never know when someone in your network might turn into a project.

Although I will continue trying to contact clients directly I also want them to find me.  This is why I have been investing in my own projects like my animated short, and the motion graphic sizzle piece.  It seems to be a much more effective way to gain new clients.

I have also been reaching out to directors, and try and establish a relationship with them.  This way when they are working on a project that needs animation or visual effects they will hopefully reach out to me to help.  Often times directors have a lot of influence over the studios and agencies they are working for in bringing in their own people.

As you can see I have a lot of things on my plate, and a lot of work to get done.  I also always have work to do on my website, but that never really ends.  I hope you are enjoying following along with my progress, and if you ever want to know about anything specific please leave me a comment below.  I will answer to the best of my ability, and if appropriate dedicate a blog post to your question.  As always don’t forget to subscribe to get the blogs delivered directly to your email inbox.  Well, it is time for me to go back to work, so until next time.


If you have not already, I hope you will join me on my journey by subscribing to my blog.  If you have any thoughts or advice I would love to hear what you have to say, so please feel free to leave me any comments below. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@MillerAnimation). Only Time Will Tell.

Society for Creative Professionals

I have been thinking about creating a society for creative professionals in the entertainment industry.  Through the society we could put on a monthly networking event co-hosted with my company.  This would include artists, technicians, and production staff in animation, visual effects, motion graphics, and other similar professions.  This event would be open to members of the community from students that are trying to get into the industry to veterans who have been in the industry for years.  It could create mentorship opportunities to help the new members in the field to meet the experts.

It would be a fun way for people in the industry to network, or just hangout with others in similar professions.  As my company grows this will provide a way for us to give back to the creative community, and introduce people to our team.

The networking event would happen once a month, and will be held at different bars throughout Los Angeles(sorry for those of you not in the area).  Most likely starting around 7pm, and at locations close to the larger studios to make it easier for those getting off work to attend.  I’m thinking it could be held on the 3rd or 4th Thursday of each month, so people can plan for it.

The networking event is only the beginning of what the society could do.  It could help the members of the industry find work, and put on educational/training events.  The possibilities are endless.  I always thought it be fun to start a secret society, and while we won’t be doing anything secret this might be the next best thing.

I’m trying to think of an appropriate name for this society of creative professionals, so please let me know if you have any suggestions.  Also be sure to keep an eye out for the invites to the first event, and I hope you can all make it.


If you have not already, I hope you will join me on my journey by subscribing to my blog.  If you have any thoughts or advice I would love to hear what you have to say, so please feel free to leave me any comments below. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@MillerAnimation). Only Time Will Tell.

Produced by Conference 2015

This weekend was the Producers Guild of America’s annual Produced by Conference.  This is a conference for producers, and has a lot of really great panels, mentoring, and networking opportunities for members of the guild.  This was my second time going to the conference, and I wanted to share my experience with all of you.  If you are interested in reading about last year’s conference you can do it here.

Paramount-fountain-pga-pbcLast year’s conference was held at Warner Bros. Studios, but this year’s was held at Paramount Pictures.  It was nice to get back on the Paramount lot, and it reminded me of when I worked at DreamWorks Studios(DWS).  At the time DWS was owned by Paramount, so I had my new hire orientation on the Paramount lot.  They also had free weekly movie screenings at the huge 500+ seat theatre that I often took advantage of since I never had the money to pay for movies.

The conference opened on Friday night with a general meeting for the members followed by a really nice Hollywood style party.  The meeting was interesting, but of course it went longer then expected.  They had every committee get up and talk about what their committees where about, and what they were working on.  I think they could have done abbreviated updates instead of each of them taking 10-15 minutes each.  I also did not eat dinner, so I was ready to get out to the party.  When we finally got out of the meeting, and to the party I spent the first half hour just stuffing my face with all the delicious foods they had.

I did not attend the conference on Saturday, and only went to the conference on Sunday.  If you are interested to see what sessions they had you can check out the list here. The conference is open to non-Producer Guild Members, but you have to pay for it.  A member gets one day free, or they can buy both days at discounted rates.  Let me know if you are interested in going next year, and I can get you the information on it.

The sessions that I went to on Sunday were “The art and craft of pitching for television”, “Conversations with: Kevin Smith”, “Creating Meaningful Brand Partnerships to enhance your content”, and “Everything you wanted to know about games, but were afraid to ask”.

The pitching for TV was very interesting, and entertaining.  They had a panel of executives, and 5 producer/writers that took turns pitching their ideas to the executives.  The executives had fun with it, and did things like interrupt them, walk away, talk to people during the pitch, and so on.  The goal was to show you what you might expect to see when pitching to these executives, and how to keep your cool during your pitch.  After each pitch they would give pointers at how to make their pitch stronger.  It actually was very educational.  It was neat to see what worked, and what did not work.  It gave me a lot of great insight on ways to improve my pitches.

Kevin-SmithI signed up for the session with Kevin Smith more for the fun of it.  If you don’t know who he is he is the director/writer for movies “Clerks”, “Jay and Silent Bob”, and “Dogma”.  They had John Horn as the moderator, but I don’t think he got a word in after they started.  Kevin just talked about one story after another, and barely stopped to take a breath.  It was a fun time, and I think I laughed through the entire session.

The session on creating brand partnerships was interesting, but I was expecting something different.  When I signed up for it I thought it was more about creating meaning for brands from your intellectual properties.  Instead it was about partnering with Brands to have them in your TV show, or movies.  Things like product placements where you actor is drinking a coke, or driving a GM car in the movie Transformers.  It was interesting to hear about how much money can be made for adding in these products.  I think they were saying $100,000 for a product in a TV show, and millions of dollars for movies.

The last session I went to ended up being the one I got the most out of.  It is always interesting to hear about the $90 billion game industry.  It is such a rapidly growing industry, and there are so many different platforms for them. There are PC, console, mobile, tablet, and social/Facebook games.  You have the Pay-to-play, In-App purchases, free-to-play, and many other types of games.  Virtual reality is also an up and coming platform that I feel will continue to grow.  I wish this session was longer, because you could tell they were only scratching the surface.  I hope to reach out to some of the people on the panel to continue the conversations.

In addition to the sessions I also met a lot of really great people, and heard some very interesting stories.  The main reason I go to these conferences is to network, and create new relationships, and this year there was no shortage of that.  I will spend most of today reaching out to the people I met this weekend, and finding ways we can work together.

I hope you enjoyed hearing about the conference, and if you have any questions about the conference please let me know.



If you have not already, I hope you will join me on my journey by subscribing to my blog.  If you have any thoughts or advice I would love to hear what you have to say, so please feel free to leave me any comments below. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@MillerAnimation). Only Time Will Tell.

That’s A Wrap! April Update

You might have noticed that I’m a little late on my blog post for this week.  While I normally try and post every Monday sometimes that is not always possible. This week was an eventful week, and it left me with no time to write a post until now.

On Monday I spent most of the day with a bookkeeper going over my company’s Quickbooks database.  I wanted to make sure the books were in order, and check that I was doing everything correctly.  This is one of those little things that in the back of your mind you worry about wondering if you are doing something wrong that will destroy the company.  Luckily besides a few minor things everything was in great shape, and I got to let go of the stress of worrying about it.

Tuesday I finally got to meet an ex-coworker face-to-face.  I know that sounds odd that I had a coworker that I never met in person, but that is the truth.  We both worked at DreamWorks Animation, and met while we were working on Monsters vs Aliens.  I was at the Glendale campus, and she worked at the Northern PDI campus in the bay area.  We have kept in touch, and a few years ago she moved down here to SoCal.  She is currently working at Disney Junior, and we finally got the chance to meet for lunch.

After our lunch I spent the rest of the day working on my presentation that I will give to Disney Junior at the end of May.

On Wednesday I had a great phone conversation with Everett Downing, the director/creator of The Book of Mojo.  He is currently working on getting his animated short funded on Indiegogo.  It sounds like a really fun project, and we hope to meet and discuss how we might be able to work together on his project.  He already has a talented group of artists that are already on board to help with the project who are working at studios like Pixar, DreamWorks, Disney, Paramount, and others.

The campaign still has a way to go to reach its goal, and time is running out.  Check it out, and if you are interested in contributing feel free to donate. The Book of Mojo

That brings us to Thursday, which is when I finally have a chance to catch up with my blog.  Once I finish this I have to go over my schedule for the next few weeks.  I have a list of people I need to meet with, but I’m running out of time in the week to have meetings.  I have been trying to keep my lunch meetings to no more then one a week, but lately I have been doing 2 or 3 a week.  On the days I have lunch meetings I don’t get as much work done, so I try and not over schedule them.

Tonight I’m going to the ASIFA general membership meeting.  I have been a member of ASIFA since 2007, and this will be the first time I have made on of the meetings.  I normally only go to the free movie screenings that they have.

ASIFA (Association Internationale du Film D’ Animation) was founded in 1957 in France, and chartered under UNESCO in 1960 as a membership organization devoted to the encouragement and dissemination of film animation as an art and communication form.

I thought that it would be a great opportunity to meet the other members, and do some networking.

Last week I met with the founders of Boom Box Post.  I have been looking for different companies to collaborate with on projects to help with the things I don’t know much about.  Boom Box Post is a boutique post-production sound studio, and is co-owned by two really great people, Kate Finan and Jeff Shiffman.  It is scary the similarities we have in our situation.  We each have moved out to California around 10 years ago, and I started my company in July, and they started in August.  They are working with some really great clients, and I look forward to working together on some future projects.

Hopefully this momentum continues.


If you have not already, I hope you will join me on my journey by subscribing to my blog.  If you have any thoughts or advice I would love to hear what you have to say, so please feel free to leave me any comments below. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@MillerAnimation). Only Time Will Tell.

900 Facebook Likes! Why Social Networking is so Important for an Animation Company

It is a little after 4am, and I thought… “what a great time to write the blog post that I was not able to get to on Friday”.  I took a quick power nap earlier, so I’m full of energy now.

I will start off by saying Thank You for all of you who have supported me in so many ways since I left my job at DreamWorks 5 months ago.  Our company Facebook page now has over 900 Likes!  I’m getting closer to my 1,000 Likes goal, and I will need all your help to get there.

You may ask why I care so much about the number of Likes I have on Facebook, but a strong social presence is extremely important these days.  There are several reasons why I feel this is important.  First off it gives me a direct line to people who are interested in what I’m doing with the company, and the work we are doing.

There are a lot of people doing some amazing work out there, and on occasion something goes “viral”.  It is not always clear why one thing goes viral and another does not, but having a large social following certainly can help.  It all depends on the right people seeing it at the right time, and sharing, and then it getting shared again, and again.  If you are not reaching enough, or at least the right people your work may never be seen more then your own social network.  The more people that I have a direct link to show our work the greater chance I will have of it being seen by the most people possible.

Another reason is that I would love to one day create my own content, and a popular way of raising money to do that is crowd funding.  I have mentioned before about some very successful campaigns where the people raised far more then what they needed.  I feel like having a way to communicate directly with people that are interested in your work is a great place to start in raising money, or getting the word out there.

Working in the commercial world it is important to always be bringing in new clients, but finding clients is not always easy.  Often calling clients up directly does not seem to get a very good response.  I think they have people calling them all the time trying offering their services, so they often put up these walls.  A more natural way is for them to “discover” your work.  When they find something they like they will reach out to you.  Sounds simple enough, but if they never see your work, then don’t expect this to ever work.  Once again, having your work being seen by more people you have a greater chance of an agency seeing your work.  It also helps if they see that people are interested in your work, and you already have a large following.

So for my small company that does not have much of a marketing budget a strong social network is important.  Of course this is only part of the puzzle, but it is not a part you should ignore.  So once again thank you for Liking our page, following our blog, and supporting us in any way.

You might be saying “Eric, I have already liked your Facebook page, subscribed to your blog, and following you on twitter, so how else can I help support your company?”  Well, I’m glad you asked!  You can share with anyone in your network that you think might be interested in what I’m doing with the company.  If you like a blog post, please share it on your Facebook wall.  If you like a video we made then tweet it to your followers.

In all seriousness, I can’t thank you all enough for reading my blogs, and following along on this journey.  It is hard to believe it was only 5 months ago that I left the port of DWA, and set sail on my own.  It has been such an exciting voyage so far, and can’t wait to see what is on the horizon.

Last Monday I was invited to attend the DreamWorks Animation’s Home Leadership Dinner.  They have these dinners when they are nearing the completion of a film to thank the show’s leadership for all their hard work.  I actually was a little shocked when I got the invitation, but was excited that I was able to attend.  It was really nice catching up with everyone, and sharing with them my experiences since leaving DWA.  Many of them had no idea I started my own company, and were very surprised to find out.  Some even thought I was still working at DWA.  It was a very fun evening full of stories, reminiscing, and laughter.  I really appreciated that they still including me in the celebration.  I can’t wait to see how much the movie has changed since I left in July.




If you have not already, please join me on my journey by subscribing to my blog.  Also, if you have any thoughts or advice I would love to hear what you have to say, so please feel free to leave me any comments below. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@MillerAnimation). Only Time Will Tell.

An Animation Company that can always Improve!

This week we are still moving at full speed on our current projects.  Toys”R”Us posted the first commercial of their Holiday Campaign on their YouTube channel that we have been working on.  We work on all the individual shots, so it is nice to see them all edited together with final SFX.  I included it on this post so you can watch it here.

I enjoy meeting with other professionals in the industry, and I always feel like I walk away from those meetings knowing so much more then before.  I learn so much from talking to these people, but at the same time it can also stress me out.  Learn about things that I feel I should have known, but didn’t always makes me worry about all the other things I might not know about.  This week I had one of those experiences after meeting with a very knowledgeable proffesional.  I left the conversation thinking about all the things I need to do to make my company better.  These things include, but are not limited to legal protection, advertising, and security of our data.  I think we are doing a pretty good job with all of these, but I also see ways we could make it better.  This is something I really want to look into, so the company can be the best that it can be.

This also got me thinking about the company and its culture.  At first I was thinking strictly about finding work, and doing the best job that we can, but I feel there is so much more then that.  For example, what do our clients think of working with us, and how do the artists feel about working with us?  I want people to enjoy working for the company, and truly want to be a part of what I’m trying to build.  I don’t want to be looked at as simply a place to get a paycheck from.  I want the company to be known for doing great work, but I also want a culture that is something to be proud of.  So these are some of the things that I will be spending more time brainstorming.  Please let me know in the comments of what you think makes a company a great place to work, or a company you want to do business with.

FullSizeRenderOn Wednesday, I went to an event for any who has earned the BSA rank of Eagle Scout in the Los Angeles area.  It was nice to get to talk with other Eagle Scouts about their scouting memories, and meet some really amazing people.  Scouting has always been such a great part of my childhood, and I hope that my son will get to have similar experiences in scouting.  At the event we had former Boy Scout, actor, and environmental activist Ed Begley, Jr. as our guest speaker.  I got a chance to talk with him, and he is a very interesting man that makes you really think about ways that you can be more environmentally minded.  This guy has a 10,000 gallon grey water tank under his house, and wind turbines on his roof for electricity.  I met a lot of other people that are in the entertainment industry, and had a conversation with a producer that has an animation project that he wanted to talk to me about.  He has a fun exciting project, and I look forward to our continued conversations.

Yesterday I went back to DreamWorks to visit some of my friends.  It was great getting to see everyone and getting caught up with how everyone is doing.  DreamWorks is such a great company, and there are some crazy talented and amazing people that work there.  I’m still very happy with my decision to leave, and go off on my own. Maybe one day DreamWorks will ask my company to do some work for them.  Wink-wink nudge-nudge for any DreamWorks executives reading this blog.


If you have not already, please join me on my journey by subscribing to my blog.  Also, if you have any thoughts or advice I would love to hear what you have to say, so please feel free to leave me any comments below. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@MillerAnimation). Only Time Will Tell.

Shooting Week Done, Now We Add The Magic

The week of shooting is now over, and I think it went really well besides my feet being a little sore from standing all day.  We shot Monday thru Friday, and the hours were roughly 7am to 7pm each day.  So that is a lot more standing then I’m used to, since lately I have spent a lot of time on my butt in my office chair.  My office now looks like a toy store from the toys we brought back to use for the VFX work, and I have a lot of paperwork to sort through.

Although it was very tiring, being on set was a lot of fun, and I learned a great deal more about the live action side of things.  It was also a very productive week, and from what was shot they will be able to make somewhere around 40 different commercials using different combinations of the vignettes we will be making.  We are now waiting for edit to finish the first few vignettes for us to get started on with the VFX work.  Hopefully we will have something as early as the end of day Monday to jump on.

We have some pretty intense deadlines this time around, and I have been working all weekend trying to rough out a schedule.  There will be a lot of moving pieces, and they all have to fall into place to make sure we deliver everything on time.

I’m excited to see how this round of commercials go, and I expect they will turn out even better then the last round.

In addition to shooting all week I was also able to make it to the Producers Guild networking event that was on Thursday evening.  With being tired from the week, and between babysitter drama, and having to wake up early the next morning for the final day of shoot I did not stay very long.  It was still nice to get out for a little, and meet some new people.

This week will start our post work, that we are expecting to last until December.  I’m excited to get a start on everything, and still a little stressed from the tight deadlines.  I just want to do the best job we can, so everyone is happy, and proud of the work.


If you have not already, please join me on my journey by subscribing to my blog.  Also, if you have any thoughts or advice I would love to hear what you have to say, so please feel free to leave me any comments below. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@MillerAnimation). Only Time Will Tell.

You can’t start an animation studio alone, You need great mentors.

I’m a strong believer in the importance of having great mentors.  No one has all the answers, and to have someone that has more or different experience then you who can help guide you is an absolute must.

A big part of leaning is making mistakes, and if you can have access to other people’s mistakes you won’t have to make them yourself to learn the lesson.  A mentor can also provide you with things that have worked well for them, and give you an understanding that you previously did not have.

I have been very lucky, and have had some great mentors in my career.  I plan to continue to find more mentors that can guide me on my journey.  These people might not work with you, but are still very important members of your team. They help you make the right decisions, and plan a well thought out strategy.

“No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.” —Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn co-founder

You often hear about industries that are cut-throat, and how it is everyone for themselves.  I have worked at a few of those places… “coughtalent agencycough“.  I’m sure the animation industry can be cut-throat , but from my experience there is a lot of great people in this industry.  People that will bend over backwards just to help and mentor others. This is why I always try and do the same when someone comes to me for advice.  I don’t always feel I have all the answers, but if there is any way for me to help, I will.

I feel that the mentors I have had have all helped me get to where I am now.  I want to talk about two people in paticular who have mentored me on starting my company.  The reason I want to put a spotlight on these two mentors is because they have actually started their own animation studios.  To me their advice has been invaluable, and I have a great deal of respect for them.  Not many people start their own animation company, so it is great to get to talk to them, and get their advice on what to do, and what not to do.

James Baxter
James Baxter and Eric MillerBefore leaving DreamWorks Animation there was one thing I knew I needed to do.  That was to sit down with animation legend James Baxter to talk about his experience in running his own company.

If you are in the animation industry you should know who he is, and if you’re not in the industry you will at least know his work.  He has been an animator for years and has worked at Disney, and then DreamWorks.

In 2005 he left DreamWorks Animation to start his own company James Baxter Animation, where he directed the animation for the 2007 film Enchanted, and the 2D opening credit sequence to Kung Fu Panda, for which he received an Annie Award. In 2008 he closed his company, and returned to DreamWorks.

I have wanted to talk with him about his company for a long time, but never got up the courage until it was my last week at DreamWorks.  I wanted to pick his brain to find out what challenges he had, and how he got his clients.  I also wanted to know why he closed his studio and came back to DreamWorks.  That is why I was so excited to have the opportunity to speak with him, and talk about his experiences.

He did not have to agree to meet with me, or answer any of my questions, but he did willingly and talked with me about starting an animation company.  He gave me some great advice, and even offered to help on future projects.  Besides being extremely talented, he is also a really nice guy.  It was a joy talking with him, and he even agreed to take a selfie with me.  Out of respect for him I won’t share everything we talked about, but I will say it was reassuring to hear how successful his company was doing, and that his decision to dissolve the company was not because of failure.

Below is a clip that shows some of James’ work on Beauty and the Beast (1991).  The ballroom was done in CG, but the Beast and Bell were hand drawn by James.  It is impressive the emotion and weight he can show with pencil lines.

Ashley Postlewaite
Last week I had the pleasure of talking with Ashley Postlewaite.  Ashley is the co-founder & executive producer of  Renegade Animation.  Prior to starting her animation studio she worked for both Disney and Warner Brothers. In 1992, her and her partner Darrell Van Citters started the traditional animation studio, and have been in business ever since.  Renegade Animation might be best known as the producer of cartoon series Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi and The Mr. Men Show for Cartoon Network. As well as co-producing The Tom and Jerry Show, a show featuring Tom and Jerry, that is currently airing on Cartoon Network starting in 2014.

While Darrell leads the company creatively, Ashley serves as the executive producer leading the company on the business side.  I was excited to get to talk to her since I see myself more as the business person of my company.  We talked about many different subjects from the state of the industry, and the struggles they, like many companies, have been going through, to tips on what to do, and what to avoid.

Her company has a small core staff of full time employees, and based on the needs of their current projects will hire additional staff or independent contractors. She emphasized the importance of being smart about how you spend your money, and to save for a rainy day.  It was strategies like this that she was able to keep the company afloat and strong during the recession.

She is an extremely busy person, and I was impressed with her dedication to help and mentor others.  This is another example of the generosity of the people in this industry.  She told me that if I ever have any questions to not hesitate to reach out to her, and who knows, maybe we will get to work on a project together someday.


If you have not already, I hope you will join me on my journey by subscribing to my blog.  If you have any thoughts or advice I would love to hear what you have to say, so please feel free to leave me any comments below. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@MillerAnimation). Only Time Will Tell.