Interview No. 141
Interview By: The-Great-One
Today's guest only has two movies here on Newgrounds, but his works have most certainly been recognized here, but outside of Newgrounds as well. Many of you here mainly know him for There's a Man in the Woods. Today I am privileged to welcome Jacob Streilein.
Q: How did you find Newgrounds and why did you join?
A: I knew about Newgrounds growing up. Seems like its always been pretty big as long as I’ve been on the internet. I actually didn’t join, though, until Tom Fulp emailed me about allowing a wider range of animated films into the site, which was right after I’d made Swelter.
Q: At what age did you become interested in drawing?
A: I’m not quite sure. I remember being excited about it in Kindergarten when we got to write and illustrate our own books, which our teacher helped actually bind for us. Seeing my drawings in a finished, well presented context definitely made me want to do more. The next big moment was probably in second grade when I did a drawing of a frog for a teacher and lots of my classmates complimented me on it. I think that was the first time I remember thinking I had done a “good” drawing, which was fun.
Q: When and how did you become interested in animation?
A: One of the upperclassmen was interested in animation when I got to high school, and I think I started looking into it just because I heard my teacher talking about it. My art teacher actually created a short film screening so that my classmate had a reason to learn storyboarding in preparation for college applications, and one of my good friends and I made this really dumb cartoon and submitted it. After that screening I started to find pencil tests and short films online and slowly built a real interest in it. I think the scales tipped towards wanting to actually study it my junior year of high school.
Q: Who would you say are your influences?
A: Oh man, so many. CalArts was the biggest introduction of foreign and exciting work that I’ve probably ever had, so my most direct influences are my classmates. Jason Reicher, Taylor Price, Dylan Forman, Ryan Matias, Vitaliy Strokous, Nelson Boles. I feel like this list could go on forever-- Ian Worrel, Romney Caswell, Phil Vose, Eddie West, Elle Michalka, Eliza Ivanova, Evan Spiridellis, Chris O’Hara, Tyler Chen.
And then kind of wider scope— I’ve kind of consumed a lot of work from Masaaki Yuasa, Euan Uglow, Egon Shiele, Paul Rand, Nas, Eminem, Outkast, Kendrick Lamar, Gary Larson, Bill Patterson, Paul Thomas Anderson, Guy Ritchie, Edgar Wright, Paul Felix.
This is a hard question haha, sorry.
Q: When and how did you become employed to Jib Jab?
A: I sort of started the Summer of 2012 in the internship program, and have worked for them on and off ever since, either through that same program, freelance work, or my current full-time position that I started in August of 2014. I met those guys when they came to Calart’s Portfolio day and I had an interview with them based on my work.
Q: Your first submission to Newgrounds is a little movie called Swelter. A story of a father and son looking for water in a post-apocalyptic world. What was the inspiration behind Swelter and do you feel you might expand on it in the future?
A: I think it was actually just an evolution of an idea about the summer in my hometown being obscenely hot, especially after a fairly temperate Californian school year. I originally had this idea that it was so hot outside that fire itself melted. It kind of took a different direction as I boarded through it. I don’t have any plans to expand on it in the future, no.
Q: Punctuwool I find to be a telling of appreciating the little things in a hilarious way. I loved the creativity behind this. Representing the clouds as curious sheep and a little man in a helicopter to guide them. How did you come up with such an idea?
A: I was trying to think of ideas when I was writing Swelter and I did this tiny drawing on a Post-It of a sheep cloud with lightning for legs just bouncing around. At the time I didn’t know how I wanted to expand it, but it came up again when I needed an idea for my third-year film at school.
The appreciation of little things was just in response to working too hard/ too much and not really having time to have fun, so naturally I worked too hard and had no fun while I made it. Just kidding it wasn’t quite that bad.
Q: My absolute favorite by you has to be Theres a Man in the Woods. You stated it was based off of a rumor that went around your own elementary school. Are there any parts of this movie that are true? What made you want to present it as a poem? What made you want to bring this story to animation?
A: The only part of the movie that is true is the section about his description. Batman ears, yellow eyes, a shotgun, and a lady’s leg. Those are the details I remember from 4th grade. We did have a honeysuckle bush, but nobody was hoarding the flowers and no parents or teachers actually ever got involved. I did have a friend who tried to convince us that a screwdriver in a Ziploc bag full of cherry Kool-Aid was actually the killer’s murder weapon in a bag of blood. He planted it on the playground and also found it— he was part of the inspiration of Sid. But that visual description of the killer just seemed fun to draw, so naturally I wanted to try and work it into an animated film.
I had been studying a lot of rap music, specifically Kendrick Lamar, Outkast, and Eminem, and reading a lot about rap flow the summer before that year. I hadn’t written anything for an actor before and was not super confident in my writing skills so I figured It might at least be interesting if I tried to write in rhyme, even if the writing wasn’t great.
Q: What advice would you have to give for artists looking to become animators?
A: Draw, watch films, make comics. Just keep drawing, mostly. I always feel like I can draw until I realize that I can’t again. Its a rough cycle. Keep drawing.
Q: What can we expect from Jacob Streilein in the future?
A: Oooh I don’t know. I’ve been doing a lot of stuff at Jib Jab that people will see soon. I’d like to make more shorts—I really like the format and I don’t know if I have the attention span for a long form project. Otherwise, I post most of my drawings on my blog here: jacobstreilein.tumblr.com.
Jacob is a brilliant animator and writer who has a lot to offer in terms of his animation. However I feel that he has a sense of there isn't enough time to truly make everything he wants to share with all of us. He is indeed absolutely brilliant though and I hope we see more of his works. Hopefully he'll enter next year's Newgrounds Annual Tournament of Animation on here.