Check out exclusive interview of Jack Kasprzak. Jack handles Animation, Writing and Content Development at Orange Wolf Content.
I am a Director of Animation for Dreamworks Animation and I have also been an animator and animation supervisor on films such as Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Tron Legacy and G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra at Digital Domain. I have a long history with Animation, Illustration and Design and I strive to incorporate heavy design and visual elements in both my professional and personal work.
I have a love affair with black and white design, the contrast and visual strength it carries. As a child I would read Edward Gorey, Charles Addams, the newspaper comics, watch black and white movies and TV shows, and dozens of illustrated books from the 1950s and 60s my grandmother had. When not working on animated visual effects or animated television, I am working on my personal illustrated books and series or developing intellectual content for future production with Orange Wolf Content.
Welcome Jack. What drove you to Animation?
In a way, I fell into Animation by an accident. My intent in schooling and childhood interest was always drawing, illustration and storytelling but proper animation wasn’t really on the radar. I would create worlds and games in notebooks or write and illustrate books as a kid. I also made a lot of films with my cousins and friends; usually parody rip offs of my favorite movies. But perhaps most obviously, the drawing just never stopped; drawing on notebooks, napkins, papers, with my grandfather, with my dad, on school textbooks, adding new drawings and props to comic books and Sunday comics, and sometimes, even on tables which got me in trouble.
I always loved animation, Disney and Warner Brothers were a staple but it never really crossed my mind that that was an attainable career. The only animation I ever attempted as a child was lego stop motion. It wasn’t until I started touring schools that I found animation and putting my past in line with that, realized that animation was actually the perfect career path for me.
Kindly share you academics.
I attended the The Illinois Institute of Art – Schaumburg, majoring in Media Arts and Animation.
What were you major credentials in various production studios?
During and shortly after school I worked for a web company in Chicago as their artist and web animator which mostly consisted of Flash animation and some basic graphic design. I took on a lot of freelance work until I was offered a job right out of school at Digital Domain. I took the job sight unseen, having never even been to L.A. and was immediately surrounded with some of the most talented artists in the business and sat next to some legendary folks. It was quite intimidating but I kept at it and effectively taught myself everything I needed to know.
I started as a technical director simulating and styling hair, which quickly turned into basic lighting and other technical script writing. However, my intent was to get into the animation department. I filled in as a temporary animator on a film called The Hitcher but my work was ultimately never used. That, though, led to character animation on The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra and Pirates of The Caribbean: At World’s End. I became a team lead on Tron: Legacy and worked as an animator/lead on Ender’s Game and Black Hat. I then became a character supervisor for X-Men: Days of Future Past, animating and simulating the transformation for Mystique. In between feature work, there were several commercial projects for Disney, Gears of War and a VR Nike spot.
Just shy of 10 years at Digital Domain I made the leap back to what I originally intended, cartoon animation and took an Animation Director job at Dreamworks Television and now supervise the entire animation team, including our overseas studio in India for Spirit: Riding Free, the number 2 rated Dreamworks animated show on Netflix.
I am also co-founder of Orange Wolf Content where I write and direct IP content for production in film, television, web and gaming.
If we zeroed to one particular project, which was the most challenging and how you tackled it?
If I had to find the most challenging project, it would have to be X-Men: Days of Future Past because not only did we animate a digital version of Mystique in close up shots but we also had to simulate and create the visual method for her transformations from character to character. It was both a creative and technical challenge. We developed proprietary software to handle the transformation in which you could populate a geometry surface with smaller rigs or geometry caches. Similar to hair follicles, it then tracked along with the deforming mesh and was able to be driven by live in-scene trigger objects.
How ‘Orange Wolf Content’ happened?
I have been working on freelance work as long as I can remember and also developing my own content, illustrated books and scripts for film and TV. As a creative, it is sometimes hard to run the business portion of the industry. I tried to get some of my content off the ground for many years, and successfully pitched to several small studios and producers in town. A sale was nearly made on one major property but I chose not to go forward with the deal as I wasn’t satisfied with the offer.
Fast forward 5-6 years and I kept in touch with Slavik IA from having worked with him at Digital Domain. He had been pursuing a directorial career while also creating his own content. We would casually collaborate as friends and bounce ideas off each other until we realized that doing things with a partner is quite a lot easier. It’s a sounding board for ideas, to generate content, another head to think through problems, work out business plans and tag team clients and administrative work. At a certain point it became a no brainer that we should fuse our properties and work on them together as a unit, filling in each other’s weaknesses and boosting each other’s strengths.
Share your roles and responsibilities in ‘Orange Wolf Content’.
I, along with Slavik IA, am co-founder and co-creator. We work in sync developing content to be produced, sold or marketed for product. Although many of the properties we work on started off as an idea exclusively from one of us, once we begin working it really melds into one unified property.
How you both (you and Slavik IA) manage to work in-sync?
Finding a partner is incredibly difficult.
Not only do you have to trust that person, with your time, intellectual property and finances you have to have the faith that it is will be a successful long term partnership. I first noticed it when I was consulting Slavik IA on a feature script he was working on and it was obvious we worked well together, had few arguments, could easily work through problems and one-up each other. Although we have very different aesthetics, we are totally on the same pages in terms of core story and content.
One of the best parts about having a partner is picking up Slack when the other is feeling lost or can’t find the next creative goal. It’s an understanding of comradely that we have and always try to keep momentum forward even when we are working through problems, critiques or rewrites.
Your projects are very well diversified in segments of Comics, 2D, 3D, Animation, VFX and other creative aspects. How you maintain different approaches for such variations?
At the core of all of these projects is the same concept. Create appealing stories and characters that will be memorable through visual storytelling. Whether I’m working on “Captain and Crow’s ABCs” children’s book, “The Daily Mobster” character blog, a visual effect piece or one of our properties I always keep in mind that the goal is to focus on a mood, a feeling and an appealing character and story. A movie, comic book or story means nothing if you care nothing for the characters involved.
What are milestone achievements till now of ‘Orange Wolf Content’?
Orange Wolf Content has many IPs in development at various stages of development focusing on animated television and features, live action film and even game and interactive apps. We are actively pitching two of these properties. We have been through the pitching process with several producers, but are also focusing on gaining investors as well as business and marketing consultants.
What are your future goals: as an individual artist and as a partner of ‘Orange Wolf Content’?
With Orange Wolf Content we are striving to create stunning and unique content no matter the genre or style it is presented.
Both Slavik IA and I have have strong visual styles but also want to push character and story to its limits and see what areas we can explore for our target audiences that perhaps they haven’t explored before. We would like to continue to create and produce content, building the brand as a trusted and exciting place to find unique and compelling content.