Thursday Think Tank: That Time I Went to an Animation Festival in France

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The Thursday Think Tanks are semi-random thoughts that may not necessarily fall directly into the category of finances, but I still feel are worth sharing. Read at your own risk!

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I’m a big animation fan. I love all animated films, whether 2D or 3D, and there was a time when being an Animator was all I wanted to do.

For me it started young. I loved traditionally animated Disney films, and while I can draw a decent comic strip or two, I didn’t have the chops to be a Disney Animator by any stretch. So I collected memorabilia, went to Disneyland as often as I could, and drew little comic strips on the side to get me by. Here is an example:

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I actually got pretty good at in, and wound up getting a low-tier syndication contract offered to me, but that’s a story for another time…

Back to animation!

When “Toy Story” came out, I knew I had found the solution to my problem. I didn’t have to draw perfectly, as long as I could understand animation principals as they applied to things like timing and movement, I could do this awesome thing that was sweeping the world by storm called, “Computer Animation!”

So I enrolled in night classes at an art school, and 3ish years later I was hired into my first gig as a professional Animator in games at Microsoft.

One of the perks of working for Microsoft back then was that I got to choose one festival a year to attend. For animation there are several, but I figured I’d shoot for the stars and ask if they’d pay for me to attend the Annecy Film Festival in Annecy, France. This yearly festival takes place in a sleepy little French town that snuggles up to the Alps. It’s a stunning location, and one that isn’t cheap to get to or attend.

To my utter shock and surprise, they agreed!

I didn’t have any other animators in my group, and so I didn’t really have anyone to go with. I also didn’t have much experience traveling abroad, other than a short trip or two to the UK. Both of these bits of information came into play almost immediately.Read More »

How to Break Into Videogames Using Only a Single Hole in Your Stomach

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The Thursday Think Tanks are semi-random thoughts that may not necessarily fall directly into the category of finances, but I still feel are worth sharing. Read at your own risk!

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Stick with this post even if you don’t give a rip about videogames. It gets crazy towards the end!

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I was a kid who loved videogames. Keep in mind that I was born in 1975, and videogames were new and fresh at the time. You were a pretty popular kid if you had an Atari 2600 or a Commodore 64. I was fortunate enough to have parents who were not only in the financial position to afford both, but also felt that it was a worthy spend of their dollars.

I’m going to try to not get too “videogamey” with this videogame post, but let me get this out of the way for reference…

After my Atari, I had an NES, an SNES, a Genesis (with SegaCD and 32x), a Saturn, a Jaguar, a 3DO, and on and on and on. Like I said, I was a kid who loved videogames.

At a certain point, my Mom was fed up with watching my eyeballs shrivel inside of their sockets as I stared at Mario and Sonic and Pacman for far too long each day, and so she started using the line that every kid dreads hearing:

“Go outside and stop wasting your life on those videogames. You’ll never make a living playing games!”

Being from a small rural farming town in the middle of nowhere, I can fully appreciate her perspective. When a family is surrounded by dirt and mud as far as the eye can see and has never had a male family member graduate from high school, saying your child was going to have a career in videogames probably sounded about as plausible as saying your child was going to build the first Pizza Hut on Mars.Read More »

I Suck at the Side Hustle and Need Your Help

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I’ll keep at it and see if there is something I can find out there, but it’s been 6 months of not having much luck. I’m totally fortunate in that I’m not looking for a primary source of income before they come and shut my lights off, but at the same time it’s killing me as a highly-motivated person to think about the hours I’m wasting that I could be using to dig out that much faster.

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Obviously there are two pretty straightforward ways to get out of debt:

  1. Pay off your debt.
  2.  Make more money so that you can pay off your debt faster.

In other words, your debt is what it is. It ain’t going away, and so if you’ve got a lot of it like I do, it’s really just a matter of trimming what you can where you can to focus every possible cent onto paying that debt down.

As step #2 also calls out, bringing in extra income helps, as long as you maintain your focus and use that extra income to get out of debt that much quicker. If your boat is filling with water, you can scoop it out much faster with a bucket than with a spoon.

My problem is not the focus part. We are so insanely committed to paying off our debt that I could probably require life-saving brain surgery and still have a tough time deciding if it was worth it over putting that money towards one of our higher interest accounts.

No my problem is getting that extra income. That side hustle. I’m just not good at making that kind of thing happen… or maybe deep down I just don’t want to be good at it.

I work a lot already, so please don’t think that I’m a lazy person. I hold a 40-60 hour a week job for a software company, and I’ve been working for this same company for almost 20 years now. Along with this, I have taught at local universities, and have a semi-regular freelance job as an illustrator for a company I’ve been fortunate enough to work with for the better part of 15 years.

What I do know however is that I’ve still got some extra time. Think like 2-3 hours every night after my wife and kids go to bed, and an extra 10-15 hours on the weekends. I stay up that late anyway, but usually it’s consumed with dumb things like playing videogames or noodling on a guitar.

Monetizing on that 2-3 hours is what’s eluding me right now, and it’s driving me nuts!Read More »

Thursday Think Tank: That Time I was a Radio Disc Jockey

The Thursday Think Tanks are semi-random thoughts that may not necessarily fall directly into the category of finances, but I still feel are worth sharing. Read at your own risk!

Starting Credit Card Debt (01.01.19): $126,310.77
Current Credit Card Debt: $108,870.87
Total Paid Off: $17,439.90
Income Going to Savings: 2%

As a kid, I was obsessed with music. Keep in mind that I grew up in the 80s, and radio was still one of the best ways to consume music if you couldn’t convince your parents that Columbia House was the deal of a lifetime. So I would spend hours listening to my radio or watching MTV to consume as much free music as possible.

As I neared high school graduation, I set my sites on a career in radio as a disc jockey. I could talk endlessly and had a knack for entertaining people, and that coupled with my love of music made life as a DJ seem like a natural fit.

During my 1 (and only) year of college I decided I would major in Broadcast Communications, and become the next Howard Stern. We were from a small enough and conservative enough town that our station didn’t even carry Howard Stern, but I just knew he was the biggest name in radio and that’s where I wanted to be one day!

That summer I took a job at a local radio station in that same tiny little town. It was the smallest of small town operations, and was managed by its morning personality who I will simply refer to as “Steve.” Steve was a somewhat disheveled and grumpy human being who seemed bright and energetic on air, but was a sarcastic lump of clay off. I hardly said two words to him in my interview and was hired as an intern on the spot. I do remember him saying, “Kid, nobody wants to work in radio. There is no money, next to no growth, and the chances of you making a decent living are about as good as the chances of me living past 50, which ain’t happening.”

Despite this ringing endorsement for my chosen profession, I took the job/internship anyway and was on my way!Read More »