If Mighty Fudge sounds like a delicious-tasting super hero to you, then you aren't far off; the quirky name for this Boulder-based design studio was originally meant for a comic book title. Studio Founder Patrick Mallek morphed this quirky name from a comic book into an animation and design studio, Mighty Fudge.
A little about Patrick...after a short stint in the cut-throat world of advertising, Patrick opened his now-successful animation studio—and he did this all before he turned 30. A decade later his company has grown from a dial-up-using startup to one of Boulder's mightiest animation companies.
To date Patrick has written and directed over 50 animated shorts, including a few YouTube viral sensations. He has also won several awards, has had his work played on MTV, and participated in countless national and international animation festivals.
The Mighty Fudge himself recently shared with Animation Career Review advice for aspiring animators and enterprising entrepreneurs:
What is your firm's focus within animation and what led your firm to have such a focus?
We focus on 2D animation, Saturday morning cartoon style. We made a conscious decision to work in stylized 2D from the start, bucking industry trends towards 3D/CGI animation. We feel the more esoteric approach better suits our personality. Stylized is the future of 2D animation and we want to lead the medium in to the future rather than endlessly trying to catch up with the past (e.g. Disney, Pixar)
Fill in the blank: The future of animation is _________.
The future of animation is: Stylized, story heavy 2D focusing on multi-lateral subjects. The Disney/Pixar formula has jumped the shark.
What are the best and worst aspects about working in the animation field?
Are you kidding? The best aspect of working in animation is that we get to make up stories and draw every day. Not even professional athletes get play like we do! But then again, we don't get paid like they do, so there's your "worst".
Among your firm's achievements, which one(s) are you the most proud of?
We've done a lot of cool stuff over the years, but the biggest thrill was being the first studio to actually animate the legendary Spike & Mike for the Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation intro trailer. All the greats on that tour over the years and we got to "do" them!
What skills/qualities does your firm seek out when hiring new employees?
We are a traditional studio, so you have to be able to draw and draw well to work here. Ideal candidates have a solid life drawing portfolio and an animation degree from a good school (SCAD for example). You also had better have a well-rounded education and have a sense of humor, or you won't last long here! When I reference Teutoburg Forest, "Slaughter House Five" or "Common Sense", you'd damn well better know what I'm talking about. We also put a premium on kids who know Action Script. There is a lot of cross over between animation and Apps/gaming and that knowledge is invaluable.
What particular schools, if any, does your firm recruit new hires from? If none, where do you recruit new hires?
SCAD. We recruit interns and artists from SCAD.
What advice would you give to aspiring animators?
Advice to aspiring animators? Whenever I talk to a group of students, the first thing I do is count them out loud, then tell them that only one person in the room is going to make it. Then I watch them squirm! But the truth is, this is a tough business. If you're not willing to sell out just to survive, you'd better go get a job at Red Lobster. You will lose more than you will win in this business, so learn to deal with failure early. That said, if you are the "one", then be prepared for the fight of your life, because your competition will be equally, if not more talented, know more people than you and look better in a swim suit. Identify the people you want to work with/for, then sleep on their front porch. When they walkout the door with the garbage, grab it from them and take it to the curb. Get their attention any way you can!
What kind of education did it take to get you where you are today?
The world is a completely different place than when I was in college (BFA 1992), so any advice I give on my own eduction is obsolete. But one thing never changes: Education is invaluable. Don't obsess over where you get it, just get it.
What animation software packages does your firm prefer to use? Which one would you recommend to beginners?
Mighty Fudge Studios starts all project "caveman style" with a pencil and a piece of paper. We then scan into the Adobe Suite (Illustrator>Flash>After Effects>Premier) for final production. Computers and software can't animate for you. Learn to draw.
Could you share with us your best story about working in the animation industry.
Way too many to list, but one of my favorites involves my first big break. I snuck into the projection booth at the Spike & Mike show one night and bribed the projectionist to slip my new cartoon into the reel. The promoter went nuts until he saw the crowds' reaction, then proceeded to personally take my film back to Spike, who bought it on the spot.
Do you think that there is an increasing or decreasing demand for animators overall? Why?
Now we're talkin'! I think the future is bright for animation and that future is Apps. Tablets integrating with touch screen televisions are the next wave and animation is the perfect fit. We are currently re-purposing several of our animated properties in to Mobile Apps, and plan to release most of our content on those platforms for the near future. Interactive and gaming are taking storytelling to the next level and animation figures prominently in that transition. The only real question is will the glut of older animators be able to make the move, or will they bill supplanted by younger, more tech savvy artists? We shall see!