August 3, 2009

Filmmaker Spotlight: Jeff Gill, Animator from Los Angeles

By MOFILM

Jeff Gill, aged 24, from Los Angeles USA has entered two MOFILM competitions so far and came 3rd in Cannes with “Larry and the Internet” which he made for AT&T. Over 350 ads were uploaded in this competition and 14,000 people downloaded briefs from twelve iconic brands.

Jeff’s prize was two tickets to the American Idol finale in 2010 plus $2000 towards airfare and hotel expenses. He was also flown to Cannes, France to the Cannes Lions Advertising Festival where he met legendary film and ad maker, Spike Lee.  Jeff is an animator and works part-time on South Park. He also entered “Talk to the Hand’ for the animation category at the MOFILM 2009 festival in Barcelona.

MOFILM: Why did you enter the MOFILM competition?
Jeff: I originally heard of MOFILM via Mobifest, who’s Butterfinger competition I entered back in 2007. MOFILM and Mobifest are partners, so from that competition, I was notified about upcoming festival entries for their mobile film festivals and competitions. Each one seemed like a great opportunity to create a new, fun, spur of the moment animation. I love contests… they’re a great excuse to do something you wouldn’t normally think of. Deadlines help you develop time management and the possibility of prizes only fuels the creative ambition.

MOFILM: Why did you choose to create for AT&T?

Jeff: Originally I had planned on entering the Best Buy category (a $10,000 gift card didn’t sound too shabby!) but when I heard there was an early entry category, I thought it would be fun to throw something together in the hope of winning a camera or new laptop. I ended up picking AT&T because out of all the messages the brands were trying to convey, theirs just seemed to click with a fun way of bringing their concept to life.

MOFILM: What inspired your video?
Jeff: It’s hard to remember the exact train of thought, but I seem to remember thinking “ok. they want to explain how internet to follow you everywhere, kinda like that lamb that follows Mary everywhere…”. The actual style of my animation was trying to look more like it was done on a chalkboard, and my character designs are more based on simplicity than anything else, and lend themselves to projects with short deadlines.

MOFILM: Does your animated guy have a name?
Jeff: I suppose the guy in the winning AT&T ad is named ‘Larry,’ but it’s not to say that it’s the same character in all my shorts. I try to give my characters at least one thing to help them stand out from a crowd, especially when there’s more than one in a single shot (props, glasses, hair styles, etc) but for the most part, they’re all just random dudes!

MOFILM: Did you use any special techniques to create your winning video?
Jeff:The whole animation was drawn in Flash in black, white, and gray. Afterwords, I compiled it all together in After Effects on top of the gradient blue background and gave the animation some texture to give it more of that ‘educational, chalk-board’ look I wanted to go for.

MOFILM:What were you doing prior to the MOFILM competition?
Jeff: Before the competition I was a nobody. A chump. I would lay awake in my bed at night and think to myself “what on earth am I doing with my life? if only there were an on-line mobile ‘phone film festival that would give my sorry excuse for a life meaning again.”. But in all actuality, I was and still am working as an animator for South Park and do freelance projects on the side during our hiatus.

MOFILM: What led you to a career in animation?
Jeff:
When I was young I saw a behind the scenes interview during one of my favorite nicktoons that showed a heavy-set guy with a Hawaiian shirt sitting at his desk, filled to the brim with happy meal toys and homer simpson dolls. At that age I assumed when you grew up to be an adult, you had to work in boring bank jobs or things like that, so to see this guy on TV that basically just looked like a giant kid really appealed to me. It also didn’t hurt that I loved to draw and would frequently fail math tests because there were too many doodles of Garfield to be done in the margins.

MOFILM: What do you think this will mean for your future career?
Jeff: With any luck, this will help give my own artistic style a larger spotlight in the public eye. I’d love to eventually be represented and asked to create content for specific advertising campaigns, but until that happens, it’s back to competitions for me. 🙂

MOFILM: What advice would you give other would be creators?
Jeff: Have fun. Whether it’s film, animation, or anything else, if you enjoy what you’re doing it will show in your work. The more people who enter any competition, the less likely you’ll win it anyways. So as long as you at least have fun with what you’re going, any additional prizes will be icing on the cake! 🙂

And there we have it, thanks Jeff! If you feel inspired to ‘get creative – get noticed’ and hopefully ‘get famous’ why not enter our latest competition?

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