My Way: Marc Ellis, animation artist at Walt Disney Studios

'I got my break working on Who Framed Roger Rabbit'
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The Independent Online

What did you want to be as a child?

A comic book artist. I didn't even know you could work in animation, but I knew I wanted to draw for a living.

What did you realistically think you'd end up being?

A policeman, like my father.

You did a BA in Animation at West Surrey College of Art and Design, was it worth it?

Yes, it gave me the tools I needed to get a job; I wouldn't have been able to otherwise.

How did you first get into animation?

After I graduated I heard that Disney had set up a studio in Camden, north London, and the animation director needed a crew for 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit'. Word spread like wildfire. I got a job as an effects in-betweener. The animator does the drawings, the assistant cleans them up and the in-betweener does the in-between drawings needed to complete the action. I saw the movie more than 10 times when it came out.

What happened next?

I worked for other studios and then got a job at Passion Pictures; it's a big, successful company now but it was just tiny upstairs rooms back then. It was small which meant I did a lot of different things, like supervising post-production edits, because the more skills you have the more marketable you are and the more opportunities you have. I moved to Los Angeles and worked for Warner Bros, and then joined the DreamWorks team. Now I'm back at Disney, which was great timing and complete serendipity. I have a four-year-old daughter and she's quite excited by the fact that I'm working with Tinker Bell.

Do you consider yourself successful?

Yes, relatively so. I've had a very long career, over 20 years, and I've worked consistently so, yes, I'm lucky.

What are your interview tips?

The most important thing in animation is to understand that it is as much about working in a team as it is about talent. These are highly collaborative projects. If you want to be a superstar and go on your own, you won't last very long. You must show you understand that teamwork is part of the job.

Your CV tips?

Keep it under two pages, relevant and on-topic. If you're showing show reels, present the best you've done and make sure they're relevant to what you're applying for.

How do I get to be where you are?

In the last 10 years there has been a real growth in the number of degree courses that will really prepare you for the field of animation and digital effects. There has also been a move to 3-D and studios want people with knowledge. It's very difficult to get on-the-job training for that. They want people with an idea of what they are doing.

What's the best perk of your job?

It's nice to work on Tinker Bell because it's promoting friendship and responsibility rather than looking cool and, as a parent, I appreciate that.



Mark has just finished work on Disney's Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure which is released on Blu-Ray and DVD on 16 November.

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