Roles at Blue Sky Studios: Assistant to the Production Managers, Production Assistant: Lighting & Compositing, Production Coordinator: Lighting & Compositing (2006 – 2008)
Blue Sky Studios hired me in early Spring 2006. At the time I was living above my grandmother’s garage in Massachusetts, dating girls who would proudly wear a Red Sox cap, and professionally splitting my time between painting houses with Cotter & Cotter Contracting, and making mini-docs for Titlelist and Foot Joy’s employee wellness program in Acushnet for Cobweb Films. To think back on those films. My god were my editing abilities terrible.
My managers, no doubt feeling like parents guilty of their feuding, let the village do some of the raising.
Younger than I am now, and eager to please, at Blue Sky I volunteered for every side-hustle the Studio offered. My bosses, two Production Managers at polar opposites of the Manager spectrum weren’t against loaning me out to other departments at my request. My managers, no doubt feeling like parents guilty of their feuding, let the village do some of the raising. Thanks to that I got my hands dirty mounting high resolution prints for Design presentations, cleaning printer rollers used to scan the story boards of artists still drawing in pencil, and dabbling in scheduling with Microsoft Project.
Microsoft Project is how I met my good friend Kane Lee. He was a department of one, managing scheduling for the entire studio’s production of Horton Hears A Who! His was the only department that didn’t ask me back to help again, but he also became one of my best friends. Kane is a skilled scheduler and producer, at the time having too much to do to wait for me to catch on to the gig. Later on in life, when we both lived in the East Village, he lent me his computer and attempted to give me another crash course in Project. This was during an ambitious, but doomed attempt I made at scheduling out a short animated film for my then employer, Launch.
After years of persistence Kane is now seeing some fruits to his labor. He’s currently producing a feature length version of The Dam Keeper for Tonko House, and is partnered with a cool Animated VR shop named Baobab Studios, among other things I’m sure. I look forward to convincing him to let me help out on one of his projects to then never be called back.
Best Face Forward
Did I mention I spent $8k and 2 years replacing my two front teeth? I thought I had.
Leading the Blue Sky Studios soccer team to 32 consecutive losses took a lot out of me. In the end, it literally took my two front teeth. Did I mention I spent $8k and 2 years replacing my two front teeth? I thought I had. Down by a few goals with seconds remaining in a corporate soccer game, I sprinted towards our net to redirect a ball bounding towards our keeper.
When I tilted my head down to control the ball, a player from Pepsi Co blasted the ball and the momentum carried his laces into my face. I took a knee and spit out fragments of teeth, collected them, and then called my girlfriend from the parking lot to ask if she’d, “still like me if I had the smile of a jack-o-lantern”. Turns out Halloween wasn’t her favorite holiday.
My dentist was on vacation, seriously, so I took some Advil and slept with my mouth guard in. The next day I went to work and tried to hide my disfigurement. At about 11am I walked into the Lighting Supervisor’s office to let him know I had an appointment with a dental surgeon, “could I leave early”. This was the first glimpse anyone in my department had gotten of my missing mouth parts. “Dude, what the fuck happened? And why are you at work? Go to the doctor!” was his less than subdued reaction.
When it came down to it, you could also say there wasn’t enough of too many things.
Biting off more than I could chew was a problem I would have at Blue Sky from time to time. Too many love interests, too many Thursday nights turning into Friday mornings, volunteering for too many departments. When it came down to it, you could also say there wasn’t enough of too many things. I really wasn’t taking care of myself in a wholistic way. I was trying, but I didn’t even know what that meant at the time. So I did what I did, and when I was turned down for a new position I took a job in the city Producing test commercials for Manhattan’s Chrlx previs animation division, Launch.
Blue Sky Studios for me over the years has been the professional equivalent of the one that got away. I’ve been contacted by them, and have applied for a few positions over the years since. Recently I was flown out to their Greenwich, CT studio to interview for a Supervisory position. I put my best foot forward, but never received a call. Walking through the halls there was an overwhelming sense that I was passing offices, cubicles, and common areas that I had graduated from years ago. It has never been my ambition to take a job as an administrator at one of my alma maters, and surprisingly my experience at BSS recently taught me that my prejudice does not only include buildings I went to school in, but other edifices of higher learning as well.
Some of my closest relationships, and biggest mistakes were made at Blue Sky. So, in a lot of ways it was like school. I miss it, it carries on without me, and I without it.
Smell The Roses
Go see Ferdinand (December 2017). Based on a children’s book from the 30’s, it’s a story about a bull who would rather sit in the middle of the ring and smell flowers than fight.
I don’t know if it’s Blue Sky Director Carlos Saldanha’s (Director of Ice age and Rio installments) intention, but the film could explore the apathy of the masses discussed in Adam Curtis’s documentary HyperNormalisation (2016).
What will Ferdinand do if he’s overly provoked? Will he put down the flowers and show the Matador the wrong side of the horns? Check out Disney’s old school interpretation here: Walt Disney’s “Ferdinand The Bull” (1938).
My friend and College Classmate, Sean Murphy, is Production Managing the film. He helped me get in the door at BSS way back, he’s been there for like 14 years, and in my opinion he deserves to have the biggest box office gross in Blue Sky history.