Friday 22 June 2012

Interview with Levi George

Levi George is an Adelaide-based writer, director, animator and illustrator. He is Creative Director at Awesome Fighter Animation and one of the makers of the Livin' with Steve webseries.

Levi popped up on the blog after we ran an episode of Livin' with Steve, so I took the opportunity to ask him some questions.

*  Are there any famous artist/illustrators who have especially influenced you? 
Well to be honest I didn't design the characters in Livin' With Steve, they were created by my talented friend Tim Cannan. A lot of people compare our drawings to Jhonen Vasquez or Jamie Hewlett though, and I know he's a big fan of each of them.

What training or mentoring have you received?
In 2011, when I had finished all my studies, I did a four month internship at the Peoples Republic of Animation. The people there have been great mentors and friends to Tim and I since we were in High School. They have been very helpful when it comes to planning productions and being creative in general.

What was the first paying job you ever had?
I was a shelf stacker at Coles. I remember being terrible at it.

What was your first job in the film business?
The People's Republic of Animation gave Tim Cannan and I a gig animating some mobile phone screen savers for the Big Pond Adelaide Film Festival in 2007. I suppose that would be my first official industry gig.

*  What was the best advice you were given at the start of your career?
"Always write for yourself." It's hard to write something that you don't believe in and make it good. It's much easier to write from your own voice and create something you have some emotional attachment to.

Many older people are puzzled by the zombie craze. What attracts you to the subject?
I think for many young people the idea of a Zombie Apocalypse is a fantasy. Lots of friends of mine talk about a Zombie Apocalypse like it would be the greatest thing to ever happen. My generation has always known this very safe and secure world where we have instantaneous access to anything we want. In some ways the idea of having all that taken away and living in a survival-of-the-fittest world would be a way to prove our worth, probably more to ourselves than anyone else. That's my opinion anyway.

What has been your experience when dealing with the South Australian Film Corporation?
They have been great. I met Kate Jarrett while I was studying at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. When we were looking for funding for Livin' With Steve she was very helpful, she always chased us up when she found an opportunity for us, and really believed in us. 

Livin' with Steve
How do you decide what projects to work on? Is it purely a question of available funding?
The group of people I work with are very funny and creative people. We usually come up with our own ideas and develop them. We do a lot of commercial work in Animation and Design to pay ourselves, but our short films are almost always a labour of love. In the case of a series like Livin' With Steve though, it's very important to me that we find enough funds to stop the crew from starving to death. I think asking struggling artist to work on your project for free really takes advantage of people's good nature. It should only be a last resort.

Do you have any ambition to go to the USA and work for Pixar or Disney?
At this stage in my career I'm more interested in working on my own ideas. Pixar sounds like a great place to work though. I heard they have a cereal bar.  
[True. Check it out.]

What big project are you working on at the moment?
I've been talking about making an animated series for children since the start of the year. We've started brainstorming ideas but I can't say to much about it at this stage, it's still early days.

Will there be a second season of Livin' With Steve?
I hope so. I have some good ideas for a second season and I'd love to return to the characters some day. The more people watch it and share it, the more likely we will be able to make another season.

Livin' with Steve
You teach 2D animation at UniSA. How many people are interested in studying animation in Adelaide?
I'm not teaching there this year, but seems like a lot of people are interested in animation. Only a handful really follow it up into a career. It's such a fun thing to learn, but it's hard to commit so much time to learning it properly. I think a lot of people find it intimidating and quit. The people who stick to it for a long time are usually the ones who want it the most though.

*  If you could recommend just one filmmaking advice book to a newcomer, what would that book be?
I know everyone says this, but The Animator's Survival Kit, by Richard Williams, is a must have for any aspiring animators.

* Name ten of your all-time favourite movies.

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1 comment:

Kathy said...

Your interviews are the best, Henry, you always illustrate and/or explain every comment. Loved the Pixar cereal bar, I see that company in a totally different light now.