I met James Baxter and it was brilliant Brilliant BRILLIANT!!!
I’m getting ahead of myself, the beginning (it seems so long ago). An angry alarm and dark morning found Sanda and I sleepily getting up to head to the train station, we figured we’d leave our selves at least 45 minutes to get there to make room for sleepy mistakes. Eating breakfast and blinking at each other occasionally as the only form of communication we could muster we slipped quietly out of the house at around 7:00, not that early but we went to bed at one, and made the cross country trek to Sanda’s car (she doesn’t want to pay the $200 for a parking permit…fair enough).
After starting the car a couple of times and getting out to wipe the frost of the window we headed to the station making a couple of wrong turns along the way and laughing about the difference in driving in our respective cities, not to mention the mutual dislike for bike riders that take over the road (there was a massive parade of them).
Dropping me outside the doors just as the sun started peeking out over the mountains I briskly headed in to get my round trip tickets and wait on platform 2 for the train, taking photos like I’d never seen a station before and praying all the while the train would be on time. At 7:47 the announcers voice crackled over the stereo and turning down my ipod I was relieved to hear it was on its way, right on schedule!
The train trip was relaxing, sitting quietly reading my drama book I finished the chapter and spent the last few minutes staring out the window and taking photos of myself being a looser (much to the amusement of the man sitting opposite me). As we slowed into Union station I gathered my things and stumbled down the stairs to leap out when the doors slid open and run down to platform 10 to catch the yellow line to Pasadena, figuring I’d work out when I had to get of once on it.
Fortunately I met a really nice man on the train that had just finished his graveyard shift at the post office and called his wife to ask which station I should get of at, meanwhile chatting about the funny things his daughters and Lily had in common (they are all around the same age). Getting of at Memorial station I waved goodbye and with scribbled directions in my hand hitched up my portfolio and climbed the stairs to Raymond st.
Getting lost a couple of times (lucky I came early) and stopping at Famima for a drink, I soaked up the scene at Pasadena (loads of restaurants, a little like Sydney, but nicer) and squealed upon the discovery of James Baxter Animation studios number 32 Mills place! Legs weakening and nerves rising I climbed the stairs with sweaty palms clinging to the railing till my knuckles turned white and with a gulp tiptoed into the reception.
- From now on I will need to be more discreet for privacy purposes, but will try and tell you as much as I can
Once inside I was greeted with a friendly smile by the girls in the inking room and after shakily telling them I was there to meet James (using his name like we were best friends already) I was guided into his office were the master sat doing what he does nest…drawing!
The nest three hours were a sort of blur as I tried to soak up every detail I could, watching him finish his picture for cleanup for a while we chatted about both our lives and discussed what I wanted to get out of the meeting. After his drawing was done we took a tour of the studio were I got to meet all the people integral to this fascinating process, they included some of the animators, the cleanup artisit, the lady incharge of scanning and answering phones, the inkers and Chris, whos an assistant director in charge of putting everything together.
As we looked over my drawings, discussed our favourite artists and looked at some of James’s sketches I could feel my confidence grow and upon being asked to go with them to lunch to see a girl that just got hired by Disney as a Visual Development assistant I eagerly said yes (by this time my nerves had sent me to the bathroom at least three times). Travelling with Chris to Burbank we chatted about my aspirations, the industry’s history, were its going, how hard it is to get a start with people keeping doors closed and my life in general (he’s such a nice guy! I think he may be a bigger geek than me). When we arrived at Pinocchio’s we quickly found the others and headed to the cafeteria style bar to grab our food (Chris even shouted me for the meal!) then chowing down on meatballs and other Italian delights I jumped in the convo as often as I could, discussing Halloween, Easter, the industry and what the other girl was up to (I feel horrible I’ve forgotten her name, I think it was Lauren) She gets to work under GLEN KEEN, agghhh sooo lucky I did an inward freak out when I found out.
After lunch and a bittersweet farewell, (don’t worry I got her email) we headed back to the studio, then collecting my things ( I wish I could have stayed forever) I said goodbye, James asking me to stay in touch…
“I hope you mean that, because you’ll be hearing from me a lot”
“Remember us when your rich and famous”
“Of course, it’ll be my turn to shout lunch”
Then with one last sigh (and another photo of the bathroom) I made my way down stairs back to reality more determined than ever be in the industry and do what I love! I don’t care how many doors are closed on me or how many gates I have to camp outside of, I’m getting in : )
Grabbing a Jamba juice as I floated back to the train station, I was stopped only once to pose for a free profile sketch (also in my photo album) then getting back into Union station I decided on a whim to make the pilgrimage to MOCA (museum of Contemporary Art, for Advanced drawing) which wasn’t bad I even got to see Walt Disney Concert Hall on the way.
After looking at giant soft toys, buildings with walls missing, sections of floor and other strange displays I caught the bus back to the station and after missing my train (I was in the station and didn’t hear them call it out!) I waited for another hour and at 6:30 swapped my ticket and caught the metro and a taxi back to Uni, were after grabbing a bite to eat and an extra large serving of yoghurt I walked to the dorm (the buses had stopped running) dancing the entire way…
I did this while waiting at the station