Recently I had a sit down with one of my favorite people, multi-talented animator and director Sherie Pollack, whose body of work ranges from edgy primetime programming animating and timing on “The Simpsons” to directing “God, The Devil, & Bob” to the pre-K “Dora the Explorer” and “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.” I took the opportunity to discuss her journey into animation success and her upcoming lecture “My Career in Cartoons”. Here, in the second half of her interview, Sherie goes in depth about her lecture.
BD: In your lecture, what kind of things do you cover for aspiring pro animators?
SP: I basically want to share everything I wish I knew when I started. You know, how to get a union job. What is a union all about. What do I do if I’m not doing well on a job - how do I get my groove back? Carpal tunnel. Everyone gets it. Eye strain. How to pitch. How not to pitch, Film Festivals, Agents, 2D vs. 3D. I taught a class at UCLA grad school and I videotaped the students pitching. It was devastating for everybody. It was devastating for me! But you have to do it. There were a few who didn’t want to, but it was amazing how much everyone’s pitching improved after they saw themselves. I mean, there’s physically a way to do it an not do it.
Another thing is to never be negative. I had so many students that would come up to me very apologetic,’Well, it’s not very good, it’s not done well,’. Don’t chew gum during your pitch. You’d be surprised how many people do it. I always tell everyone to take acting classes. Take acting, take improv. That’s what really helped me.
BD: I’ve come across a lot of young animators who draw a lot of inspiration from one animator or one source when they’re first starting out. Did you have someone like that when you first started?
SP: That’s a good question. I didn’t come at animation thinking of animation. I came at it like a storyteller and the medium happened to be animation and song and dance. I wanted to bring my love of theatre to cartoons. So I can honestly say that Bugs Bunny was big, such a great character. I loved Raoul Servais‘ films. I loved the simplicity and strength in his stories, and design. Also his timing was delightfully subtle — which is something I’ve always resonated to. I liked anything that was communicating in silence too. Marcel Marceau was a huge influence too. As I became more involved with animation, the more I appreciated it.
BD: You weren’t necessarily watching cartoons and saying,”I have to do that” specifically.
SP: No, I just loved TV! My poor parents. I watched so much television. My mom finally sat down with me and said,”Sherie, ya gotta go outside.” “But I’ll miss Bobby Goldsboro! I’ll miss Glen Campbell! Sonny and Cher!” If I wasn’t watching that, it was “Rocky & Bullwinkle”. I dropped out of Sunday school to watch “Gumby“!
BD: I dropped out of ballet to watch “Pirates of Dark Water”! I don’t know if that was worth it, but it was the most important thing my life at the time.
SP: Yeah! I was the same way with Gumby. My brother had gotten bar mitzvahed and he got to quit going to Sunday school. I remember going into my parents room while they were still sleeping and I said,”Mom, Dad, I’m not going.” My dad asked why. I told him because “Gumby” was on. My mother made this noise that she makes when she’s trying not to laugh. And dad said,”I wasn’t expecting that reason. Just promise me if you have any questions about religion you’ll ask me.” I said alright, and marched into the TV room to watch it.
As far as animation goes… I sort of lied my way into it. I hadn’t done it before I started doing it. I just figured that because I could draw I could animate. I love the medium of animation, because of it’s theatrical nature.
For booking information for Sherie please visit www.sheriepollack.com