Locodrome
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Locodrome

So I Quit My Job To Make Cartoons

Hello, my name is Anthony. Until a week ago I was a Managing Director & Partner at a big, prestigious consulting firm. I worked with huge clients to do important things, learned a ton from brilliant colleagues, and built an exciting, new part of the business from the ground up. It was an enormous privilege to be in my position and I will always be so very, very grateful for the experience.

Filmmaking has always fascinated me, and I’ve dabbled here and there in small ways over the years, but I never saw a way of making it a full-time job — primarily due to a number of self-created excuses. I’m an immigrant — I need to be employed to maintain status. I can’t make any money making films. I have a really good job that I enjoy and am good at — I’d be crazy to quit. But over time these excuses faded, and I had a harder time explaining to myself why I wasn’t doing what I knew I really loved doing.

So after a great deal of encouragement from my wonderful partner, I quit.

I was sure that my colleagues and clients would think I was nuts — and some probably do, but the vast majority weren’t surprised (“Yeah, we figured you’d do something like this eventually”) — instead I found support and offers of practical connections. The same happened with my family (“It’s about time!”). Turns out that people who care about you, know you a lot better than you think they do.

So what am I doing exactly?

I’m spending the next few years on a number of creative and film projects. No business plan for now — I’m trying to think of this as an art practice.

First up are three animated short film scripts that I’ve written. They’re all pretty weird ideas, but I like them. Not enough to start sharing them yet, but I like where they are going. If I can make these shorts and get them into a few big festivals I will call that success.

I’ve dabbled with 3D animated production for years and know a lot of the basics. While on sabbatical in 2020 (I know, what a year for it) I discovered the speed and flexibility of animating inside a real-time environment like Unity or Unreal, and for the first time felt that being an independent animated filmmaker was a practical possibility. I am still in that dum-dum part of the learning curve where everything is fascinating and exciting — and I suspect I’ll be here for a while.

A test shot from the technical proof-of-concept project I’m currently working on (yes, that’s Mace Windu.)

There’s also an animated TV series that I’m developing — the pilot is written, and I’m working out seasonal arcs now. Once I put together a pitch deck (with help from a producer friend who has been making movies since we were at business school together), I want to start pitching it to the major streaming platforms. Yes, it appears that I will still be making slides every now and then.

Outside of film stuff, I continue to advise companies working in the creative and content spaces — some directly, and some through mentorship positions. Speaking of which, NEW INC’s open call for Y9 members is open for 10 more days — apply here.

What was the first week like?

Pretty f***ing dope.

On Monday night I did my annual class on storytelling at NYU’s Stern School of Business —my third year doing it, but first time in person. So much better than doing it on Zoom — actually being able to see your audience reacting lets you adapt in the moment. Also just nice to see a bunch of humans together at the same time. It’s a fun lecture that involves dinosaurs, Star Wars and LEGO.

My process for telling a good business story

On Tuesday I drew a rough plot diagram for three seasons of Sanctuary, the TV series I’m trying to develop. I also ate a dosa at 2pm and read three trade paperbacks of Invisible Kingdom, because I could. There are probably professional ways of plotting series that they teach you in film school — I just made a bunch of messy boxes and arrows on graph paper. But plotting out the story more concretely made me even more excited about the project. It’s sort of The West Wing meets Men in Black by way of Arcane.

Messy plot diagrams. Blurred because secrets.

On Wednesday I did a Mentor Coaching Session with the Y8 cohort of NEW INC, which is an awesome art + design + tech incubator run by The New Museum. Those folks are doing some super inspiring stuff — if you want to see them talk about their work, I encourage you to sign up for Demo Day, which is coming up very soon.

On Thursday I (re)learned how to use animation rigging in Unity to keep characters’ hands where they are supposed to be. I’m using Mixamo motion-capture data to animate these Clone Troopers, but that means their left hands aren’t always holding onto their guns correctly. Turns out Two-Bone Inverse Kinematics constraints are the answer.

Scene view on the left (in which I can manipulate characters), Camera view on the right

On Friday (and over part of the weekend) I wrote a ~2000 word short story for the NYC Midnight writing competition series. My favorite part of the competition is that you get professional feedback on every entry no matter how far you get. In the first round of this series, I wrote a Thriller about a contract killer working on a golf course, and placed fourth in my group. That qualified me for this round, where I had to write a Romantic Comedy — a genre I seem to get assigned with disproportionate frequency. I wrote a story about a pair of immortal vampires playing hide and seek across time. I don’t think it’s funny enough, but I like the premise.

I’m probably not going to write a day by day account of every week, but I’ve been advised that regular documentation like this is helpful when working on multiple messy unstructured projects. So this is a bit of a therapeutic experiment — which I have enjoyed so far.

Let me know if you enjoy it too — and follow me if you’d like to read more. I also post on IG, and document 3D stuff in more detail here, and broader storytelling / life stuff here.

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