It’s the triumphant return of Cogswell Insiders! For this installment we have Aaron Miner, President of the Cogswell club Dragons Den Productions. This man has taken it upon himself – with the aide of a few others – to create a hub for creative minds of all artistic skill to create animated films.
Davain: Thank you for coming by to do the interview Aaron.
Aaron: I’m more than happy to represent Dragons Den Productions
Davain: So my first question for you is what was the process in forming DDP?
Aaron: It’s quite interesting because it started out with Jimmy Phan [Member & Co-creator] Robert Pendelton [Member and Co-creator] and I back at De Anza college. We had this idea for this science fiction animation…which was a damn big project so we were spending our time finding a course for that. From there we started to form the idea of a club and soon realized that a creation of something like this was more meant for the students benefit and less of our own. In time we didn’t go through with our initial animation idea and let the club become its own thing which I think was a very positive direction since it could potentially bring more creative ideas to the table.
Davain: So you think that abandoning the initial project was the best choice?
Aaron: Yes in terms of what we were shooting for in the beginning it was a great choice. The orginal animation project was huge and was a bit too much for us to tackle at the time.
Davain: Sweet. My next question is how does DDP Run? What is the process you guys follow in creating your animations?
Aaron: Our meetings are held weekly and the first 15 minutes is spent discussing new idea pitches. This slot isn’t reserved for any one particular person but instead is open for everyone who wants to work on an idea either on their own or with members of the group. This is where we get our big projects going within the club and actually we are working on two projects at the moment. One that we want to make in Adobe Flash and another with digital ink & paint. The latter came from an idea that sprung up early on in the beginning meetings. Cool thing is that we have so many people come in with fresh ideas we had to just keep a record of all of them so if we ever have a point where we aren’t working on a project we have material to work with.
Davain: So the members just come in and say that this is what they want to work on and let their idea sway their audience? Is there any kind of voting to see what is the best idea or what people would rather work on?
Aaron: We do have a voting system on what the club’s main project will be but it doesn’t happen immediately after it’s pitched. All ideas are pitched as just test ideas which can give the person who had the idea more time to refine it after getting advice from the members. We do have a max number of animations that we work on as a club (which I’m going to assume is two since I didn’t ask him at the time) and when an opening comes up, we can have a person who had a very well liked idea come to the table, hopefully with a much more detailed pitch, and quite possibly take a leadership role in the project if everyone so chooses to take it on.
Davain: What is DDP’s Goal? Does it have a mission statement or phrase that it runs by?
Aaron: We want to make animations by students, and to some extent, for students. We want to be a hub for people to refine their animation skills, find people to help them work on their projects and actually WORK on animation projects. This goal came from an observation of how Project X (our Junior and Senior student animation project) runs their show. PX is a great opportunity for students and we want to be able to say that we are giving that kind of presentation. Although there are some key differences since you have to essentially try out for PX and the demand for work completed within the project is incredibly strict. Not that its a bad thing, but there isn’t much opportunity to keep on creating more and more work since you are focusing on one central project. Our vision is that we can take in people at any skill level put them on manageable projects so the completion rate is much faster but quality isn’t lost.
Davain: So can students join your club at any time? Can they even sit down on a meeting and not be a part of the club?
Aaron: Absolutely! We welcome any and all students at any skill level. There are people who want to be part of the club but might not have the time. We don’t turn those kinds of people down since any help is appreciated.
Davain: What are your current projects? Can you talk about them?
Aaron: One of the projects we are working on right now is called Little Knight which was an idea that came from Robert Pendelton. It’s about a bored little knight who wants to find a quest and has this giant dragon fly overhead. At that point he tries to slay the dragon but something puts him and his goals at an impasse. I won’t give much more than that so you’ll have to find the rest out for yourself when it comes out!
Davain: I feel like you’ve told me so much already! I mean, as far as stories go that’s a pretty basic idea: Bored knight, find dragon, goes to kill dragon, has problem somewhere along the line, supposedly kills dragon, so that impasse must be huge!
Aaron: There is some twists that come along with it so it’s not as basic as you think it will be! This one is the flash animated one and is about 2 1/2 minutes.
Davain: What is the future of DDP?
Aaron: I’d like to see an increase in variety in variety and quality of the work that we produce from here on in. There is a point where I’d like to say that DDP is a hub for animation production around the campus where students can come in and at the very least get questions answered for their own projects and at the most have ideas become reality. Something that I’ve noticed is that there are many classes for both the technical and artistic side of animation, but less of the storytelling and we’d like to help out with the creative process as much as we can. Definitely not to say that the other two aren’t as important.
Davain: Do you guys hope to grow to a group that doesn’t necessarily rival Project X but becomes a place that can crank out quality work in a fashion that comes close to their production quality?
Aaron: Yes, in short. I’d like to be on an even footing with PX and someday bring our animations to their quality of work. But aside from the production values we also want to focus on not only animating, but animation stories. We have an internal mantra that goes: We tell [bleep] stories! I can’t really leave out the expletive I’m afraid!
Davain: Haha! Is that mantra going to appear physically on your productions?
Aaron: No no. The actual mantra isn’t really used outside of the club too much. I really want to emphasize that we really want to focus our attention on making quality work and storytelling. They go hand in hand and although one day we would like to reach a peak where our digital prowess is on par with PX, our focus is set in stone.
Davain: Alright, the last question which quite possibly is the most important out of them all: Boxers or Briefs?
Aaron: Why one or the other?
Davain: Hahahaha! Is that you final answer to that question!?
Davain: Haha, you heard it here folks! Thank you so much for freeing up some of your time today.
Aaron: No problem.
Check back for the next installment of Cogswell Insiders!