by Carl R. Jansson
Rocky Curby is not a name known to many, even though many of the biggest hit films of the last decade wouldn’t have been what they were without his input. Rocky is primarily a pre-visualization artist on tent-pole Hollywood films, but he is quite something of an animator as well, as evidenced by his short films Dark Vessel and Happy Meal Horror. He has a very dark sense of humor, mixed with a unique visual style, these two short films are like nothing I’ve ever seen, and I don’t see him staying behind the scenes much longer. I had the chance to chat with him recently, and he was friendly, funny, and forthright, exactly the opposite of what I had expected based on his films.
DARK VESSEL – (bloody cartoon) from Rocky Curby on Vimeo.
FanboyNation (FBN) – You grew up during a golden age of animation, with Hanna-Barbera, Chuck Jones, Rankin/Bass, the great Ralph Bakshi, and so many others. Plus, those were the years Americans really started seeing things like Robotech and Battle of the Planets. Were you a big fan of animation growing up? Do you have a favorite show or movie from back then?
Rocky Curby (RC) – I loved animation growing up. My favorite shows were He-Man and Scooby-Doo. I’m still inspired by them to this day.
FBN – Did you always know this is what you would be doing for a living?
RC – I always knew I would tell visual stories. As a kid I grew up in my grandparent’s movie theater.
FBN – Did you attend school for animation or film, or are you self taught?
RC – I attended the Art Institute of Dallas.
FBN – How did you get your start in animation/film?
RC – After art school I took a PA job serving coffee and I talked my way into the 3D lighting department.
FBN – What would you consider to be your greatest influences?
RC – When I’m creating my personal projects I look to real life influences like my Uncle Bob. The personal connections I’ve had with people, places, and events are my creative fuel. Let’s not forget aliens and cow mutilations.
FBN – Do you have any modern animators or film makers that keep you inspired?
RC – Hitchcock, Scorsese, and John Carpenter.
FBN – You have a pretty impressive resume. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Super 8, and The Adventures of Tin-Tin being a few of my favorites, but you’ve worked on Transformers, Amazing Spider-Man, Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol, and so many others, not even mentioning your own short films. How is it different working on your own properties as opposed to something like, say, Speed Racer for instance?
RC – On a feature I’m a small part to a greater whole and when I go home I bring my nightmares to reality. So one is a coal mine and the other is a wonderland.
FBN – With the pedigree of film makers attached to the project, why do you feel The Adventures of Tin-Tin wasn’t as well received in America as it was the world over?
RC – I think it was the American culture that didn’t get it.
FBN – You have a very unique and interesting style. Your most recent short film, Happy Meal Horror, is pretty crazy, in a good way. What was your inspiration for this one?
RC – When I set out to follow-up my last short, DARK VESSEL, I had a cow that was going to die. I liked the cow so much that I gave him his own short. I couldn’t find it in my heart to kill him, so I killed his mother instead.
FBN – What are some of the tools that you use the most?
RC – Maya.
FBN – What else do you have coming down the pipes?
RC – I’m developing a pitch for a horror take on the Invasion of the Body Snatchers that would be live action. Oh, and feature cow mutilations. Again, reflecting on personal experience for inspiration.
FBN – Do you have a favorite film you’ve worked on?
RC – It’s hard to enjoy the movies I’ve worked on, because of the experiences attached. With that in mined, I would say Tin-Tin was an awesome experience.
FBN – If you could get the budget you wanted, and have no studio interference, what would be your dream project?
RC – A low budget horror take on the Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Or remake Masters of the Universe.
FBN – How do you feel about the state of animation/film today?
RC – It’s sad to watch your industry fade. With every thing being outsourced I have a lot of friends (talented artists) out of work. That’s why I’m driven to create my own content. My mind can’t be outsourced.
FBN – One last question. If you weren’t in the film industry, what do you think you would be doing with your life?
RC – I would be a Toy Hunter like Jordan Hembroug or a neuro-scientist.