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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thesis Retrospective: Interviewing Jim Jinkins

I've been meaning to post this, but didn't really get around to it until now. It's been about a year since I was working towards finishing my thesis at SCAD, and about 8 months since I finished it. What I wanted to share was the surprising sense of inspiration and pure luck I had when I was able to interview an individual that through television, was a part of my childhood; Jim Jinkins, the creator of the Nicktoon, "Doug". This entry for Thesis Retrospective is 1 of 3, because along with interviewing Mr. Jinkins, I also had the opportunity to talk to Caroline Hu, and Lori Crawford for my thesis. Jim was the 1st person I attempted to contact.

Now the reason I wanted to contact Mr. Jinkins to begin with, was because of my developing thesis topic; the study of unorthodox skin tones in character designs for animated film and television properties. So to make a long story short, I basically wanted to know why the Genie was blue, why Roger was green, why the Simpsons were yellow, etc.

The more I viewed those projects, the more I questioned it. To me, it was something deeper, something more, than just the artist's choice. I knew that the topic itself seemed sort of strange and unimportant to discuss, but I wanted to take that obscurity and make something informational and entertaining to read and see.

It started back in September 2010. At the time, I was under the impression that all animation creators or directors were either too busy to speak to a developing animation student, or just flat out didn't care; but I was still motivated to at least try. Luckily enough, what I thought was just a random facebook fan profile of Jim Jinkins I was sending a message to, it ended up being a legit Jim Jinkins profile that he created. He responded to my request, and was actually interested in visiting SCAD. After being surprised and excited to possibly see him in-person, I was awaiting to hear when he planned to visit the Savannah campus.

6-7 months later, as I continually sent him once-a-month or once-every-2-week follow-up emails on my thesis progress, my time to finish the thesis by a certain deadline was drawing dangerously close; I kinda knew then, he was too busy, or... he might have been annoyed with me. The reason why I didn't pursue a phone or email interview was that he insisted that it would be better to talk in-person, which I was fine with.

On April 3rd, 2011, Sunday evening, I suddenly get an email from Jim saying he would be in town 1st thing Monday morning. On the day of the interview, April 4th, I thought I would be smart enough to meet him and his family at the admissions office where people can schedule SCAD bus tours; but what I didn't know was that the animation chair already picked them up at the airport and was heading straight to Montgomery Hall, where the animation classes and professors were stationed, and I was half-way across town....oooh the STRESS that started building that day. After I called and realized the error in location, I darted to my car (which was 10 minutes away) and drove as fast as I could to Monty. After searching all the floors, I found him and his family. While feeling tired from running, and a tad anxious, (partly from of the close calls I made cutting people off on the road in order to get to Monty before he left) I was able to commence a 45-minute interview.

Here is a link to the transcript from the audio interview that took place that day:
Interview with Jim Jinkins

Thank you Jeremy Moorshead again for bringing Jim to SCAD, and thank you once again Jim for allowing me to interview you, and to have your wonderful family there to enjoy the sights of Savannah. The inspiration you gave me to confidently complete my thesis will also continue to motivate my efforts to search for employment and opportunities doing what I love to do.

Don't dismiss the idea of trying to contact somebody that inspires you; you might get lucky.

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