An Amazing Experience at CTN Animation Expo

I had a great time at the CTN Animation Expo this last weekend.  Not only did I get to see a lot of industry friends, but I also got to meet a lot of new people.  I also got to hear a lot of great discussions, and meet some of the animation legends.


Ken Duncan

I had the pleasure to hear Ken Duncan talk about his studio that he started 8 years ago, and was excited to get to sit next to him in a “Meet Ken Duncan” discussion.  Ken worked at Disney for many years, and is best known for his female characters that he was supervising animator on.  This includes Meg from “Hercules”, and Jane from “Tarzan”.  I learned of Ken and his company Duncan Studio while working on the DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda DVD featurette.  We were doing the CG bookend animation, while his studio worked on the 2D animation part.  I’m hoping for a chance to get to meet him for lunch sometime, and to see his studio.  Fingers crossed.


L to R: Eric Goldberg, Ron Clements, Bill Kroyer, Jerry Rees, John Musker

On Saturday morning I started my day out going to a tribute to the Late Robin Williams with film directors John Musker, Ron Clements, Jerry Rees, Bill Kroyer, and supervising animator Eric Goldberg.  They have all worked with Robin Williams, and they wanted to honor him by sharing their experiences working with him.

It was really great to hear them talk about their memories of Robin Williams.  When Jerry Rees was talking about his experience he talked about directing “Back to Neverland”.  For anyone that remembers the Animation tour at Disney/MGM Studios at Walt Disney World where you get to go on a walking tour through the animation studio you will have seen this.  Sadly the animation tour and the Florida animation studio is no longer around, but it was one of my favorite attractions.  It is also one that I worked at when I did the Walt Disney World College Program Internship my 2002 spring and summer semester in college.  The tour started out by everyone coming into a small theatre where they played “Back to Neverland”.  It had Walter Cronkite, and Robin Williams, and they turned Robin into an animated character to show you how animation works.  If you have not had the privilege of seeing it on the tour, I will include an extremely poor quality version I found on YouTube.

Working as a tour guide I had to introduce the film, and then watch it around 4 to 5 times a day.  I loved it and never got sick of it.  When I learned that Jerry Rees was the director, I was overly excited.  Later that day I ran into Jerry and John Musker, and told them about my animation tour guide days.  They were very nice, and I had a great conversation with them.  They were also kind enough to take a photo with me.


The rest of the weekend was a mix of going to different workshops, some of which were ones taught by friends of mine, and walking around on the exhibition floor.  It was really nice getting to make a lot of new contacts with artists, and meet some extremely talented people.  It was interesting that majority of the people I met were trying to get jobs at one of the major studios, and I’m the crazy guy that had a studio job and left on my own free will.  Maybe that is a sign that I’m a little crazy, but I’m okay with that.

One of the best things of the week was seeing these amazing projects everyone was working on.  It really inspired me to want to try and pull a team together, and make an animated short.  There were several people there that got their projects entirely funded by crowd funding.  I met animator James Lopez that did a Indiegogo campaign to raise money to make an animated short.  He raised almost 1/2 a million dollars so far which is enough money to make 4 animated shorts if not more.  I’m sure that is the exception to the norm, but it is still a fun thought to play around with.  In closing I had a great time at the conference, and I’m looking forward to going again next year.  Who knows, maybe I will get a booth for my company next year.


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.



I went to a networking event last night that is put on by the Producers Guild of America called Thirsty Thursday. Once a month they pick a bar in the Los Angeles area for members of the guild to gather, share stories, make connections, and build friendships. I have gone to a few now and it is always interesting to talk with other producers in different areas. I have met producers in film, TV, New media, and video games to name a few. The majority of the people I meet at these events are reality TV producers.  I’m not sure if there is more work in that field, or if the reality TV producers just like to drink more then the others.  The interesting thing is of all the different producers at these events, I’m always the only animation producer there. At first this might seem like it would not be very beneficial for me to go to these events, but I feel it is an amazing opportunity for me. I have no competition there, so if any of these producers ever need animation, VFX, or graphics for any of the projects they are working on, they will hopefully remember me. I even write “Animation” under my name on my name tag to help people remember what I do. I’m perfectly fine being known as the animation guy in the Producers Guild community.

“Personal relationships are always the key to good business. You can buy networking; you can’t buy friendships.” ~ Lindsay Fox

I have always been a big believer in the importance of networking, especially in this industry.  You never know what connection you make will lead to your next project.  In my first blog post I mentioned there was an interesting story on how I transferred from DreamWorks Studios(DWS) over to DreamWorks Animation(DWA). When I wrote my original blog I was not mentioning where I was working, and could not give the story without giving that detail away.   I feel this story is fitting since it shows the importance of what a strong network can do for you, and your career.  In 2007 I was a PA in facilities at DWS, and they were about to start filming on Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. In-between films Spielberg has one PA that works in his office doing grunt work.  Once they start up shooting on set the PA goes with him, and they hire a new PA to support the office.  After the shoot he helps the on-set PA get a job they are interested in, and the new office PA will then go on set for the next movie, and the cycle starts all over again.  Normally they promote the Head PA in facilities to become the next Spielberg office PA, but they like to interview all the PA’s just to meet them.  His assistants are the ones that did all the interviews, and when I interviewed for the position they told me about this position being on this short term cycle, and wanted to know where I wanted to go after the position ended.  I mentioned that my goal was to get into animation, and they smiled and said, “well, we know a few people in animation”.  A week after the interview I got a call from one of Spielberg’s assistance to let me know that they would be giving the position to the current head PA, but if I ever needed a recommendation to let them know.  I was also told that I would be promoted to the head PA position in facilities to fill the vacancy of the last one being moved to Spielberg’s office.  This got me motivated to try and get over to animation, and I met with a recruiter at DWA.  Even though they share the same name they are no longer the same company.  At that time DWS was owned by Paramount, and DWA was its own publicly traded company.  You still had the big 3 that started the companies; Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen (forming the SKG present on the bottom of both studio’s logos), and were still involved with both studios.  I digress… The recruiter at DWA told me about several positions that were available, and one of them stood out to me.  It was for the central coordinator on their first stereoscopic animated film call Monsters vs Aliens.  I told her that I was interested in that position, and she said she would send my resume over to the producers.  It was a few days later that I got an email from the recruiter telling me that unfortunately the producers were looking for someone with more experience.  It was very discouraging to get this news, but luckily it did not last long.  15 minutes after I received the first email I received a second one from the recruiter.  This time it simply said, “Spielberg’s office called the producers on Monsters vs Aliens, and they now want to meet with you.”  So thanks to my connections I was able to get the interview, and eventually the job that started my almost 7 year career at the studio.

In closing, I wanted to touch on the great loss the world had this week with the death of Robin Williams.  It is very shocking, and sad to hear about it on Monday that someone with such great talent had to leave us so early.  My first exposure to his genius was his role as Genie in Aladdin, and I instantly became a fan.  He entertained us with his comedy, and the characters that he created.  He was an inspiration to many, and he will be missed.

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.