Jacob left Brighton College in 2012, the same year he decided he wanted to pursue a career in Animation. Only 6 years later, he is working in New York City as a Lighting Technical Director at Blue Sky Studios after having worked at Walt Disney Animation Studios.
When you were at Brighton College, what did you want to be when you ‘grew-up’?
I really had no clue throughout most of the time while I was at school. I knew I liked History, English and Art. But, it wasn’t until I was sat down by one of my teachers was quite insistent that we would keep meeting until I could tell him something I liked, and then I stumbled across animation. I’m very grateful for that, as I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without his, and the schools, support.
What do you do now, and what does your job involve?
I am a Lighting Technical Director at Blue Sky Studios, a feature animation studio on the outskirts of New York City. Currently, I am working on the movie Spies in Disguise, an animated feature scheduled to release next year starring Will Smith and Tom Holland. I worked briefly on the movie Ferdinand, that was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film. Prior to that, I was lucky enough to work at Walt Disney Animation Studios.
My role is to light the scenes in the films. Imagine trying to watch a theatre production if the stage was pitch black… I add the lights! It is my job to create the lighting and adjust the way it interacts with the characters and the environment around them, engineering tone, mood and composition to help the film look pretty!
What are the most rewarding and challenging parts of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is the technical side - every movie is different and has its own challenges, whether it be a rushed production schedule or a new technology. Overcoming those obstacles can be a struggle but ultimately it can also be actually be one of the most rewarding parts of the job. Despite being technical, it’s still a primarily artistic job, which is really great. There is also something really exciting about being able to watch your work on the big screen!
What are you most proud of so far?
I’m most proud of my animated thesis film, Extinguished - I co-directed it with a friend of mine, Ashley Anderson, and we were lucky to get chosen by the Academy as finalists for the Student Oscars in 2017. It has been really rewarding seeing the responses and positive feedback that it’s received.
What is your fondest memory of school?
I miss being able to play rugby, as well of course all the fantastic friends and teachers. I miss the city of Brighton a lot too, I don’t get to come home as often as I’d like!
Who was your favourite teacher and why?
I had a lot of great teachers who did a lot to help me. Alan Bird was the teacher who sat me down and inspired me to find something I was really passionate about. I also feel a lot of gratitude towards the Art Department as that is where I ended up spending most of my time!
What was the best piece of advice you were given whilst at Brighton?
I think I have to again thank Mr Bird for that, which was in the lesson that there was SOMETHING out there for me, I just needed to keep looking until I found it.
What advice you give to your 18 year old self?
Enjoy the journey, it’ll be some late nights and a lot of work but that’s part of the fun.
Is there a book, song or film that changed your life?
I went to see the Pixar movie ‘Brave’ in 2012. It was just after I decided that I wanted to become an animator and I remember having to hold back tears about 10 minutes into the movie because I felt like I had purpose in a way that I never had before.