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I Have a Question Brooke Keesling

In which Chris Robinson asks animators profound and inane questions that have little to do with animation. Today's guest is animator, teacher, industry vet, Brooke Keesling

'Hot Dog Hands' by Matt Reynolds

Brooke Keesling is an animation teacher, filmmaker, recruiter and overall connector of people in animation. She agreed to meet me on a couple of Disney’s old Chugga Chuggas near the Ward Kimball mini train museum out back of her father’s train store last week in April 1989. The weather was moist.

I get the greatest pleasure from.... 

People, art, and animation.

Specifically connecting people, especially artists/animators to work (that’s why I love recruiting for animation studios), in addition to watching animation or helping to create animation.

I also love to drive people around Los Angeles in my vintage convertible Bug and show them our fair city from the viewpoint of a native. There are so many hidden treasures in LA; fun people to meet, things to do and see…it’s endlessly fascinating.

Also, hanging out with my sweet husband- he’s very kind and calm, I’ve learned so much from him.

The trait I like least about myself is

I have so much energy! Perhaps too much energy…

Energy is typically a good thing but sometimes I get hyper and interrupt people or don’t take as much time to listen to them as I’d like. If you’re a friend of mine and you’re reading this, I’m genuinely sorry if I’ve ever interrupted you.

The book I value above all others is

Tough question! I’m swimming in art and animation books that I adore. My latest favorite is Mindy Johnson’s Ink and Paint, about women pioneers in animation. My husband’s mom is featured in this book- she was a Research Librarian for the Animation Department at Disney from the 1940s through the 1980s. We were surprised and very happy to see her inclusion in this amazing book as she lived an otherwise very non-celebrated life.

My favorite non-animation book right now is: Catching the Big Fish by David Lynch.

Reading that book led me to learn and practice Transcendental Meditation, which is 100% delightful.

A (non-family member) person I have high respect for is....   because… 

Oooh! There are so many…I love people.

My mentors at CalArts are high on this list (E. Michael Mitchell, Jules Engel, Corny Cole, Gary Schwartz, Christine Panushka, Mark Osborne, and Steve Hillenburg).

My former boss, Shannon Gans who founded and ran New Deal Studios (practical, miniature, and digital visual effects house) is high on my list for running a VFX business with style and expertise, especially as a woman in a male-dominated industry.

In general, I respect people who stay true to their own vision, regardless of naysayers along the way who try to discourage. The world needs these people.

I also respect people who remain kind and generous as they make their way to whatever version of success they deem desirable. It takes tremendous grace and maturity to remain kind in a competitive world, I’m happy to know many who have succeeded in this arena.

The song that makes me tingle is....

Impossible to pick just one, but this one is always featured when I take a road trip to Northern California (my home away from home): Astrud Gilberto’s version of Beginnings.

Am also listening to a ton of jazz right now- Howard Roberts (member of the Wrecking Crew) is one of my favorites – I have a bunch of his records that aren’t available in digital form, and I love the song Eighty-One by Miles Davis.

Of course, Jimmy Smith’s The Cat is one of my favorites and is always fabulous.

Have also been going back to some favorite 80s bands that I hadn’t listened to in a while: The Three O’Clock, Dream Syndicate, The Bangles, and other bands that were part of the Paisley Underground (a psychedelic revival in the 80s), plus X, Devo, XTC, Split Enz, OMD, the B-52s, the list goes on and on and on…

The funniest thing that happened to me….

Life is hilarious on a daily basis and this is a tough question, but here’s the first thing that popped into my mind:

When I was in 7th grade, I went to a party with a bunch my high school pals at our friend Estefan Bravo’s house. Estefan’s party was at his fabulous old mansion in the Hollywood hills, not too far from Sunset Boulevard. My high school friends thought it would be funny to see how I’d handle a little bit of alcohol, so I proceeded to get tipsy for the first time (I was only eleven or twelve). I was taking a break from dancing, sitting alone in a chair, when Estefan’s mother spotted me and came over to see if I was all right. She took me by the hand and proceeded to give me a tour of their fabulous home. I hadn’t met her before, but it turned out that she was Ann Robinson, the leading lady in the 1953 film, War of the Worlds, and she had all sorts of amazing memorabilia from her film career in her house like models and miniatures of the spacecraft, and cool old posters, etc. It was so incredible to be a little bit tipsy for the first time while being taken on a tour of a beautiful old Hollywood mansion by a fancy Hollywood actress. It was not exactly funny, but it was a very surreal experience that I always remember fondly. 

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A well-known figure in the world of independent animation, writer, author & curator Chris Robinson is the Artistic Director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival.