Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Women in Animation: Samantha Inoue-Harte, Part 2

Cat Shit One 1
CW: After a successful short film, 'Cat Shit One' didn't make it into full series production. How do you deal with the disappointment of putting that much energy into a project and not seeing it come to fruition?

SIH: I was brought in on 'Cat Shit One' after the first episode was finished.  I was given DVDs and action figures for the main characters.  Our studio then developed a presentation deck that could then be presented to American distribution companies to pitch as an animated series.  We partnered with a talented live-action actor for voice work and we spoke with several networks and outlets but unfortunately, though many 3D animated series at the time had budgets of over $1 million per episode with very geometric or Lego looking characters.  We were asked to keep our high quality/furry animation the same as the short but asked to meet budgets far lower than many less complicated 3D animated series on television. We were also asked to change the story from a serious action packed series to a comedy.  In the end, we could not make the numbers work enough to make American audiences interested in buying the show.

And when that happens, you just keep moving forward.  You NEVER put all of your eggs in a single basket.  Many of your projects fail, you just have to keep coming up with new projects until one sticks.

CW: When you produce animated films/series, do you focus on one or do you usually have a couple that you're working on at the same time?

SIH: I am always working on multiple projects at any given point in time.  If I kept all of my eggs in a single basket then I would not be as productive as I am.

Tailchaser's Song 2
CW: How did you get involved in producing Tailchaser's Song?

SIH: A sweet voice actress colleague of mine, Carrie Savage, introduced me to another voice actress/writer who had a project that was being developed into a feature.  I met with Bethany Rhoades for coffee as a favour to Carrie.  The meeting....was pretty painful.  Everything that you could do to mess up a pitch, she did.  But then, she pulled out some artwork that an artist had done for characters and settings of the project.  And I was sold.  I joked with her saying that she should have just started off the meeting by showing me the artwork.  It was like lightning struck.  I called my producing partner, Paul Alvarado-dykstra and convinced him to look at the artwork.  The artwork spoke to me.

CW: Tailchaser's Song was announced back in 2011, can you talk about how production is coming along?

SIH: Big things are happening. I would need to discuss with my team about what I can say at this point.  Things are happening. I'm really excited.  There's a name I want to drop. But I don't want to jinx things.  Can we come back and discuss things about Tailchaser at a later point?  :)

CW: In the context of your production work, how do you think that crowdfunding (Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Patreon, etc.) has changed the game of animation production (if at all)?

SIH: We have spoken at length about crowdfunding and have seen how popular it has been to help create some amazing work.  We have not moved towards doing any crowdfunding at this moment, but I do have to say that animation production, especially of shorts, have definitely benefited from the funding created by crowdfunding sites.

Fritti Tailchaser concept art by Matt Rhodes  2

CW: How have opportunities changed for women pursuing a career in animation today as opposed to when you started your career?

SIH: When I first began work as an animator, there were less than five women.  Now, there are a few women in every animation studio that I have walked into.  It's definitely become more accepting.  I'm glad I never have to be the lone female in an animation studio anymore.  Things are definitely a lot better for women now in America.  Japan, has always had more women in the animation studios than in America. 

CW: What do you think is the biggest obstacle to women who want to pursue a career in animation?

SIH: I do believe that one of the biggest obstacles that women have to face in the animation industry is fairness in pay.  Though things have definitely gotten better for women since I first began, you still run into the random moments when you find out that a woman is being paid less for doing the same, if not more, work than a male animator counterpart. 

Pouncequick & Rikchikchik concept art by Matt Rhodes  2

CW: If you had a daughter said that she wanted to work in animation, what advice would you give her?

SIH: I would make her take business classes.  Teach her how to read and negotiate contracts and teach her how to take care of her money.  Most problems I see in studios in the US is many animators/artists are not well versed in basic Business skills so I have seen many people run into problems with money and with taxes.  My daughter will definitely need to focus on Business classes before I EVER let her get into any animation work.

CW: What is the most important thing that authority figures (parents/teachers/professors) can do to encourage girls who are considering a career in animation?

SIH: My parents desperately wanted me to work in Math or Science.  I was terrible at both subjects.  I was pressed to go into fields that I had little to no interest.  I was an artist from the get go and unfortunately, it wasn't until halfway through high school when my parents conceded that I would just never be good at science or math.  I had tutors, I had study guides, I took extra courses in science and math just so I could get better.  I just could not wrap my brain around any of it.  I was frustrated. My parents were frustrated.  It took YEARS for my parents to come to terms that I needed to study something else.  But before that ever happened, it was like my parents were in denial.  They pushed and pushed.  It wasn't for lack of me studying.  I had a periodic table poster plastered on my ceiling for years as well as math time tables on my bedroom door for years.  I have to say that to authority figures, encourage all kids to do what they enjoy.  Listen to your kids. And if they want to consider a career in animation, then get them into life drawing classes as early on as possible.  Sign your kids up for after school art classes. Buy some art programs for their computers and buy a Wacom tablet.  If they want to consider animation, then the earlier you can expose them to it, the better.  But keep them focused on perspective drawing and life drawing. 

It's been a real pleasure being able to spend time with you.  If you have any further questions in the future, please do not hesitate to ask.

CW: Thank you very much for the interview. :)

Sami and I at AlmaCon 2016  3

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Samantha’s larger body of work is listed on her IMDB page, where you can find her animation and anime projects as well as her voice acting and live action work. And keep an eye out for the upcoming Tailchaser’s Song, currently in development. Press releases for Tailchaser’s Song can be found at Animetropolis’ website and an archive of info can be found on their Facebook page.

1. “Cat Shit One” available on Blu-Ray at Amazon.com at the following link. Image used with permission.
2. Image copyright Animetropolis and used with permission.
3. Image copyright Charles Wilson.

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