Meet Mitch Mitton - Theme Designer/Fabricator/Sculptor

How to Get a Job in Hollywood Insiders with Insights (New Addition)
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Hello everyone and welcome to the new edition in this mentoring cause insider insights. So what this is basically is that I will be talking to in meeting with some film industry veterans and players in the Hollywood scene and asking about how they got in and experiences when they first got started. Kind of like you guys right now. And you interview about 15 minutes or so will be released every quarter. So stay tuned for that. And once again, if you have any questions about any of the interviewees or just about the course in general, feel free to post them on the q&a board.

Happy learning. Alright, so Hello, everyone, and welcome to another interview session. And today we have Mitch, why don't you introduce yourself what you do and stuff like that? Okay, I'm Mitch mitten. I'm a theme designer, and fabricator. I've been doing it for over 30 years.

Nice. So tell me about why you're doing this, you know, how did this passion get started? Well, I couldn't be an automobile designer for one reason or the other. And I got into doing advertising and people wanted me to do special things for them. My company back then was called mich mitten graphic and dimensional design. no one understood what dimensional design was.

So this time, I got a little bit more graphic with the name and said it was theme design. They still don't understand. Okay, every and the reason they don't understand is they think it's gonna be about amusement parks. And it's not about amusement parks, everything in life has a theme. You can call it a style. You can call it whatever you want to call it, but everything has a theme.

And so what I do is make that theme come to life. Whether it's a paintbrush for you, or it's a piece of furniture for someone else, it's all has a special touch to it as a craftsman that I add to it, so I do a lot of theme work. This is a mermaid on the wall behind me. Yep, I saw that. Okay. And when I'm not doing that, or if I'm not doing other things, there's some things I really can't publish.

But I can tell you that I just did. Norman Rockwell's Santa Claus at the globe. And I did four copies of those. Oh, nice. For various reasons. I can't show pictures of it.

When I'm not doing that type of work than doing furniture for interior designers. Okay, so maybe share a little bit because we have like a broad audience. beginning students, right. So So tell us more about Your work with regards to film work if you have like a certain department for that. You also like watching movies, so you get involved in those. Ever since I was a teenager, I've loved movies, and what my wife loves the old movies.

And when you look at those and you see the sets in there, there's just been always a desire, you wanting to create those, you want to be part of the movies. My son and his partner, business partner are really close to producing their first movie, and all that I'm gonna be the must say what my title is this week. set designer or something like that, okay. And it would be my first full length movie to work on backing up. My history goes back to again when I was in advertising. I worked at a TV studio and I was a production manager.

To TV studio, which was a glorified tight title for an artist who made everything happen. So I've been in, in and around. Motion Pictures are j mark, I worked at Disney for a while. So it's just always there and anytime I get away from it, you're not happy and you come back to it. Alright, so tell us about the most memorable time you had on set or like a memorable production that you worked on. One summer, I built for Shrek houses full size, okay.

So they served as a decorative set. And they also were the changing room for the cast members. Now, all four of them were not alike. Rarely do you get to do that much reparative work and doing things Set mark. When you do you really do improve your craft and you learn. You learn a lot of different techniques.

Interesting. So I'm curious like, do you have assembled a team to build these all you did it all by yourself? We talked about Shrek houses. Yes. Okay. Yeah.

We it was for the Gaylord hotels, and whoever owns Shrek, okay, was partnering with the Gaylord hotels. And for every year, the Gaylord hotels brings in a group of Chinese artists on to carve ice. And we also did Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda, as part of those. So and sometimes all you have is a build up that you have to freeze. That's almost impossible. Just look for detail.

Yeah. So even though it's an authorized saying you're working from is really different. Yeah, I can imagine because it's like, yeah, flat, and he had to make the three, right. Yeah. Right. Especially the column with the dragons in the temple for the Kung Fu Panda.

I was like, What is that thing look like? You know, me it was very important and what I was doing, but it was like, it was hard to get the detail. Right, right. Yeah. Okay. Then, since I can visualize, I had to figure out, how do I make a round column and apply dragons to it?

So, you know, I've worked in manufacturing before, I've been been an industrial designer. So you apply a little bit of everything. To bring it to the project? Hmm. That's very interesting. Wow.

It's almost like, I mean, for me as the 3d artists as well, it sounds like you know, kind of the same scenario where visual effects people are getting very little information. You had to bring other stuff to it. So you have this like, just real life, right? It's pretty cool. Right? Okay.

So when did you realize that You had your first like foot in the door, getting a really big project by when was the moment about 30 years ago a company in Dallas had a very high end showroom. And they wanted the name on the front of the building. And it was in limestone. So it was like, okay, I've never carved stone before, but I got a sample stone. I figured out how to do it. That project was one of my first big jobs, you know, and it was like, Okay, I can do this.

But really, once I went to work at Disney and you you started they had the best artists in the world they're good but once you got there you saw huh? I'm you're serious. These guys are and so So I figured out that they're really advantage was was their buying power in that, that they can buy 55 gallons of something and allow their sculptures or artisans to experiment with it. And it's that freedom to experiment. And once you learn to not worry about domani to experiment and discover techniques that work for you, then you're there. Now, I don't worry about I know I can do anything.

As that's a big step forward. You know, you have fear is still part of your daily life. Sometimes you're working with high speed tools, cut myself several times, not that kind of fear. You have a fear of I don't know if I know what I'm doing. But you you you step up to the plate. And you visualize, again, use your natural challenge that happens.

And then you step back sometimes and you say, I know I did that. I can't believe I did that. So that's what's fun about this. Is that that inner reward is you get I might money. Don't get me wrong, I don't do it for free. But you also won't.

That satisfaction of knowing that you did something and you did it. Well. Maybe you get real egotistical, maybe just a few other people could do it as well as you. Definitely, I definitely say that, you know, I still have your paintbrush to protect it, right. So, yeah, great job. Okay, so tell me how is your life right now compared to back when you just started Like, what's the difference?

Would you say? Freedom? Finally, I haven't gotten my crazy morning that they say drop dead money. I haven't gotten to my drop dead point yet. But it's become much more comfortable. I just did a very large job was the first time I reproduced for sculptures in a limited edition.

And that gave me an a freedom income combined with some custom work I've done for interior designers. So that's the hardest part is been working for yourself, you know, so right now, I'm working for myself. I'm technically retired, I will never retire. I'm gonna I'm gonna work on to that last day. I can't do anything else. But it's nice having a little Little bit of freedom.

So you have to worry about just paying the bills monthly. None of us really want to be a starving artists. Yeah. Okay. So, um, any last words and then we'll take a tour. So, okay.

Go for it. That's the hardest thing is to one. get someone else to believe in you. Once you find people that believe in you, you hold on to nowadays. Keep your network viable with whatever social medium that you need to stay in contact with people and to research, research research. Don't ever think that you know it all.

Just try something different if it doesn't work, the first time Maybe you're doing it wrong. Go the library, go online, find a different way to do it. It can be done. If you can visualize it, you can do it. That's great. I'm awesome.

So what time when you show us around, okay. Okay. I'm just gonna pan along here so you can see some of the things I've done. You can see Mickey, you can see some other sculpture. On the wall is a bunch of samples. Those are the kinds of products I used to do.

Okay, I'm gonna walk over where we can see the stain partner my more. Oh, okay. You can see her mechanical tail. She's a little embarrassed because of the scientists got a little risque. She didn't really lies that she was nude until they put that corset on her. Here is the mechanical pump mechanism that feels we're staying Okay, this is where it all happens.

Nice look like a real video workshop. Yeah, I mean yeah, you know the great thing here is you can come at 3am put another coat on something. But it's a nice workshop. It works well for me the next project is to out these doors here is to build a paint booth. So, but this is, this is my world. This is where I spend all my time.

And it makes me very happy. Yeah. Good. Sounds okay. Yeah. All right.

Um, okay, so that was, so thank you again. You've been working for how long have you been doing this? For years? Oh, let's see. I graduated from college in 1969. This is what I used to do was I used to do illustrations and then we had a, you get reflections on some of these.

We had a wood carving business. But this last go around has been about third years. Oh, nice. Okay, well, what's a pleasure speaking to you

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