Category Archives: General

Demo Reel

Just a quick note: For anyone who’s looking for my demo reel, you can find it here:

David Johnston's Demo Reel

My Ten-Year Plan

Ten years and one month ago I arrived in Los Angeles.  I had decided that what I really wanted to do with my life was animation, and by far the place to accomplish that goal was Los Angeles. I didn’t really have the chops to work in the industry, though, so initially it was all about working as a software engineer, establishing residency, and applying to UCLA – all of which I did as planned.

Initially, when making this big decision to leave the Northwest and find my fortune in the land of silicone and douchebaggery,I set a goal for myself. “In ten years,” I said, “I want to have my name in the opening credits of a feature film. It was a lofty goal, but it felt good to be aiming high.

So here it is, ten years later.  I haven’t worked on any feature film, let along been in the opening credits. I’ve worked on two different TV shows, though, which is nothing to sneeze at. I still love the idea of working in film, though, something that seems to be increasingly difficult for a 2D animator to do.  Almost all 2D animation these days is for TV and casual games. Those are certainly fine and good and pay the bills, but they lack the luster of film.

Well, tomorrow I take the next step. I’ll be starting a three-month freelance job doing animated cut scenes in a modest-budget theatrical feature scheduled to be released some time next year.  Feature film credits, here I come!

I don’t know yet whether it’s okay for me to say what I’ll be working on.  They didn’t have me sign an NDA for the interview, so it might not be super-hush-hush. If they tell me I can talk about it then I’ll update you, my multitudinous loyal readers, about all the gritty details. For now, suffice it to say that I’m excited about this new job. Working on a movie, plus a cool subject matter that I’m excited about, plus remuneration, all add up to David is Stoked.

Demo Reel and CTNX

I thought it would probably be a good idea to post a link to my demo reel on here,  So here it is.  If you’d like to see my latest demo reel, you can see it at:

Happy viewing!

In other news, I attended a whole bunch of CTNX this weekend.  CTNX is an industry event – I suppose you could call it a convention – wherein lots of animation industry people and lots of animation students converge, buy and sell comic books and posters, attend panel discussions, and so on.  It’s really for industry people and those who want to break into the industry, so it shouldn’tr be confused with events like Anime Expo or other fan-oriented conventions.  There was no one there in costume.

It was interesting and fun.  I made connections with a few people who could be good contacts in the future.  One studio head said he really liked my reel and he’d consider hiring me if his studio were looking for animators right now.  So that felt pretty good.

I got the feeling that he was a little surprised to see a reel with professional-looking animation on it, as opposed to the many he must have viewed at CTNX from students.  Not that students can’t have good stuff, but it tends to be a lot more uneven.  And hey, I’m not judging at all! I was there; I know how it is.  It’s so hard to break in, and it’s so hard to get the experience and chops you need in order to break in without already having broken in.  There’s nothing like professional experience to improve your chops.

I also met a few new students and until-recently-students.  Nice people who I wouldn’t mind hanging out with. You know, there’s nothing like hanging out with someone you can talk shop to. In fact, I love going to parties where there will be some of my animation friends, since it means I can talk some shop. 

Speaking of parties, I have a final thought for the day. I believe I got this advice from Tom Sito, animator, teacher, union rabble-rouser: Every industry party you get invited to, GO! It’s all about the networking. I try to keep that in mind too, helping people I know get jobs whenever I can.  I love maintaining those relationships because A) I like doing nice things for people, and B) I figure there’s a good chance it’ll come back my way at some point.

A teacher is me

So tomorrow morning I’m going to substitute-teach an animation class. It’s a little scary but it’s something I’ve been interested in trying for a long time. You see, I have this crazy notion of maybe becoming a teacher or a professor someday. That’s one of the major reasons I’m still working on my MFA (fingers crossed, finishing my thesis one year from this week).

Two questions come up re teaching: will I enjoy it, and will I be any good at it? I want the answer to both questions to be “yes,” but life doesn’t always turn out as we’d like. I have some experience from tutoring in college, though that didn’t go as well as I would have liked. I enjoyed it but I often found that I had a really hard time understanding why my students didn’t understand the subject we were studying. I like to think of myself as empathetic but in some cases I just had a really hard time getting past the difference in ways of thinking between myself and my pupils. When you’ve gone over a concept all the ways that you can think to and they still don’t get it, where do you go next?

Well, we’ll see how his class goes, but I’m hopeful that things will go swimmingly. Maybe this I my first step into a larger world?