Jeremy Stewart is a Vancouver born animator and creator working behind the scenes for popular Hollywood films and independent projects.
We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Jeremy Stewart, who shared a bit about his background and experience in the film industry.
How did you get into animation?
Drawing, animated movies, and comics (loved Mad Magazine) were some of my interests when I was a kid. Unfortunately I didn’t pursue the arts when I was in high school, I figured “I can’t make a living doing that” and after high school I was on my way to becoming a carpenter. After a few years working in construction, my friend (Carl Whiteside, now VP of Waterproof Studios) showed me the computer animation he was doing at Vancouver Film School. It looked really cool and inspired me to take some part time courses, build a portfolio, and eventually take the same course. I got my first job as an animator shortly after graduating.
How has the industry in Vancouver evolved since you started your career 15 years ago?
In the last 5 years it has really exploded. When I started out there were only a couple of major studios in Vancouver, Mainframe (now called Rainmaker) who created Reboot, and Electronic Arts who make video games. There were several other smaller studios but If you wanted to work on high end projects you had to go to the US, New Zealand, Australia, or the UK. Which is what I did. For a number of reasons many major studios have recently opened offices here in Vancouver. So for better (or worse, I love to travel) I don’t have to leave town to work on high profile films, the work is coming to me.
What has been your most memorable experience.
I’ve worked with several Directors and Talented animators. One moment that really stands out was when I was on the set of “Wolverine” and this tall guy taps me on the shoulder and says with an Australian accent “Hey mate, it’s lucky Friday” It was Hugh Jackman (in his full wolverine costume) with a stack of lottery tickets. He went around and gave every member of the crew scratch-and-win tickets.
What has been your most challenging experience?
Every project is challenging for different reasons. Sometimes it’s because of the nature of the work, sometimes it’s the clients or the people you’re working with. Other times it’s just getting through the long hours it takes to meet a short deadline. A career in VFX has its ups and downs, but I look forward to taking on new challenges and I’m excited to see what the next project will bring!
You have branched out to produce your own independent projects, how has that process been?
Challenging yet super exciting! This is something I do in my spare time and I find it very rewarding. Many of my projects promote some kind of positive message and/or give me a chance to learn some new skills. Some of these independent projects include creating animation for Documentaries about Vancouver’s music scene, another was about Plastic Pollution. Animated backgrounds for the theatrical production “PostSecret The Show”. Animated educational material for the conservation group SeaChoice and the David Suzuki Foundation. Video production for various organizations including TEDx Stanley Park. I’ve made an award winning short film “Laundry Day”, but the project I’m most proud of is one I’m working on right now. It’s a commercial for the SPCA staring an animated cat.
So tell us about this shark video that made you famous?
Famous? Ha Ha! Last Fall I spent six weeks exploring Africa, while visiting South Africa I went on a shark dive. The shark was going after some bait when it crashed into the diving cage we were in. I caught it on video and it went viral. So now I’m kinda famous but not for any of the movies I’ve worked on.
What do you like to do in Vancouver?
I was born and raised in Vancouver, so lucky to have a lot of long time friends here. Living in Kits I’m close to some of my favorite spots, Kits Beach, Spanish Banks, Pacific Spirit Park, some great restaurants and my favorite coffee shop Arbutus Coffee, just down the street from me. I also love motorcycling and go for long rides around the lower mainland and Washington state.
What advice do you have for young people who want to become animators?
Focus on the basics first, the technology is just getting easier to use. A good foundation in the classic arts will always be an asset. There are countless online resources today that will give you some insight to what the animation and film industry is like. And if you have specific questions, social media now makes easy to get in touch with just about anyone. I’ve helped many aspiring animators over the years. I’m currently helping a couple of brilliant SFU students who are developing an animated series. If any of your readers would like some help or advise I’d be happy to help.
Follow Jeremy Stewart on Twitter
Interview by Pavan Sodhan
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