‘Sit-down With Sue’: Introducing Allen Laseter

Wednesday 8 May 2019

We delve into the weird and wonderful mind of recent signing animator and illustrator Allen Laseter.

We recently signed Nashville, Tennessee based animation director/illustrator Allen Laseter whose signature style is awash with texture, vibrant colours, original characters, and fluid action.

With numerous short films behind him for the likes of LagunitasTED-Ed, Coke, and Disney, and features in It’s Nice That and Motionographer, Allen brings a unique cinematic approach and a distinct 2D style to Jelly’s roster, and we’re delighted to have him.

To welcome him to the ranks, our Executive Producer Sue Loughlin sat down with him to find out just what goes on in that weird and wonderful mind of his, for our very first edition of ‘Sit-down with Sue’ – enjoy!

Sue: What got you into animation?

Allen: My background is in live-action. I received a BFA in Film while in school and began working as a freelancer upon graduation, taking on small commercial and music video shoots as well as making personal shorts with fellow filmmaker friends.

One day an animation project dropped into my lap when a friend of a friend needed an opening for an event he was putting on. I had only dabbled in animation out of curiosity before this, but I took on the project and did a ton of learning on the job, and by the end of it I realised that animation seemed much more suited to my brain than live action. I began making the transition to animation immediately and within a year, that was all I was doing for work.

Sue: So how did you learn animation?

Allen: I didn’t formally study animation. I learned from a combination of trial and error and random online tutorials.

Sue: How do you create your animation?

Allen: I primarily work with After Effects for both illustration and animation. Every now and then I’ll mix in Photoshop or Flash for more intensive frame by frame animation when needed.

Sue: What goes on in that brain of yours when you are given a brief?

Allen: For me, the crucial first step is getting a solid grasp on what kind of feeling the shot needs to convey and how I would like for the viewer to feel. From there, it’s more instinctual and I just start filling in the frame with shapes until it feels right.

Sue: Do you work on the creative collaboratively?

Allen: I enjoy working collaboratively, but also know how to efficiently work solo when the project calls for it.

Sue: For the ‘Mumblephone‘ spot with Lagunitas, were you given the full transcript of the phone call and given free reign to create from there?

Allen: Pretty much! I did have to cut one or two particularly incoherent phrases though.

Sue: How long does it take to create an animation like Lagunitas?

Allen: I worked on the Lagunitas piece over the span of a few months while balancing it with other projects. Had it been done all at once, it probably would’ve come out to around 6 weeks from storyboard to locking animation.

Sue: What inspires you creatively?

Allen: I try to draw inspiration from all over the place, but I’m probably most inspired by cinema. Movies were my first real creative love and I’m endlessly fascinated with how directors can use composition (among plenty of other tools, but especially composition for me) to secretly influence the way viewers process information. How the story is told is as important to me as what the story is itself. And it goes way beyond making something look aesthetically pleasing.

Sue: Do you have a fave animated film?

Allen: It changes a lot, but right now I’d have to say ‘Only Yesterday’ by Isao Takahata

Sue: What/who is your dream potential client?

Allen: I would really love to do work for Criterion or Janus Films. I’d also love to make a title sequence for a great series or movie, and eventually I’d like to actually make either a series or a feature film. But really, my dream client is anyone who wants to get weird and take a chance on making some bold and unique work.