As part of an ongoing series, we are introducing our fans to the people who make the magic happen here at AtmosFX. Today, we’d like you to meet the person who coordinates the great team of animators here at the company – Paul Williams, AtmosFX’s Production Manager … and younger brother of one of the company founders.
Paul, who is two-and-a-half years younger than his brother, Pete Williams, likes to say that his interest in animation comes from simply keeping up with his older brother. “The only way I’d get to play with him was making a claymation movie, or being an actor in his movies,” Paul recalls. “I was the star who died a lot.”
Paul is certainly underplaying his own skills and talents – he and his brother continued to write and pitch screenplays into adulthood. (Actually, he sold one concept when he was still a teenager – but you get the point.) In fact, Pete and Paul would often create animated video trailers as a way to better convey their conceptual ideas to the film-production companies they were pitching. Cartooning, and later animation, was always one of his great loves. “I’ve always loved animation,” he said, “because it is the best way to show off my ideas.”
When AtmosFX was in its earliest days, Paul found himself working on the animation team at a design firm here in the greater Seattle area. But, like always, he was intimately involved with the work of his brother. He was an actor in Zombie Invasion!, Shades of Evil and Ghostly Apparitions before officially joining AtmosFX in 2014. Since then, he’s been actively involved in so many aspects of the company – including being the green-screen actor in Witching Hour who was used for the animation. And, certainly not to be downplayed, he was key in helping AtmosFX grow the team of animators to five full-time employees.
For Paul, it has been a perfect marriage of what he’s always loved to do. “Animation is like acting – it is bringing a character to life,” he says. “I like to play, and the secret to happiness is pretend.”
Q: You have been writing scripts and creating “pitch videos” with your brother for years. Is there anything about that experience that informs how you create/animate characters?
Paul Williams: I think that whole experience taught me how not to approach a character. Back then, I was young and eager to please. I wasn’t true to my own sensibilities in story or in character. I was producing the work that I thought studios or focus groups would “approve.” I never trusted my instincts or what I really considered to be good or interesting. So instead of creating a character such as a dude who loves puppies and is horribly mutated into a crocodile monster before going on a blind date, I was creating average male character, 18 to 25, trying to hunt a crocodile monster from an equally boring female character that he wants to date. Since then, I only create mutated monster characters, and I’ve found serenity.
Q: Is there a certain part of the animation process you enjoy the most? The least?
PW: I really enjoy working on the subtle character moments that bring the character to life. It usually comes towards the end of the animation process, after all the blocking and basic character moments are in place. Little nods, smirks and winks you put into the character. It’s acting. It’s playing. It’s putting yourself into the character. And that is a lot of fun.
My least favorite part is the rigging of the character. Too much math and science and stuff. Brain no like.
Q: Are there any characters/scenes that you are just dying to create, regardless of whether or not the decoration would sell well?
PW: I would love to do a Jurassic Park-esque kind of product, where we turn your wall or window into a viewing area where you are looking into various dinosaur paddocks. And we would watch the various animals go about their daily routines of…you know, standing around, walking around, eating goats. Those kinds of things.
Q: Your love for the movie Jurassic Park is well known – you even re-created a Jeep from the movie. What has been the best response from others when they see you driving it around?
PW: Mostly people are confused by it, I think. They see it coming down the street, they lock eyes on it, sometimes smiling, and just start repeating: “Jurassic Park. Jurassic Park. Jurassic Park.” I haven’t caused any car accidents that I am aware of, so that’s good. But I love that Jeep. It seems to make others happy too, so that is a plus.
Q: Not including Halloween, what is your favorite holiday?
PW: Like everybody else, my second favorite holiday after Halloween is Arbor Day.
Q: What is your favorite movie genre – and what are your top 5 favorite movies within that genre?
PW: I am a really big fan of adventure movies, mixed with some sci-fi and dash of horror. My top five picks kinda reflect that. Jurassic Park is my absolute favorite movie, obviously. Jaws is a close second. Aliens is just the greatest most quotable movie out there, and Hudson is my spirit animal. Then I would have to say the Star Wars saga and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom!