Buck L.A. – Joe Mullen & Joshua Harvey

In L.A. we had the honor of meeting up and sitting down with Joe Mullen and Joshua Harvey of Buck L.A. to talk about our project that we’re doing and their perspective on the subject. We were welcomed in the studio by Joe Mullen and he showed us around the work area they call “The Pit”. The place looks like no other studio we’ve been to with geodesic shapes that made up the walls filled with pictures and stills. There we also briefly met Ryan Honey and then Joe took us to his office he shared with Joshua Harvey.



We also took Mike Colarik to the meeting, we were staying at his place in L.A. and he was formerly an intern at Buck, so we were glad he was able to join the meeting and see how Buck has evolved through the years. We explained more of “The Life-Light” project, that it’s about personal development and growth as a human and filmmaker/designer. How we are literally breaking our personal boundaries in this world-trip and meeting inspiring and successful people on the way to share thoughts about this process and learn new things. Joshua added that seeing and acknowledging our individual boundaries is half of the process, after that you can actually make it work in your advantage. It gives you a perspective and a story you can really use in your work. And that perspective makes you different from all the others and can give you an advantage if you know how to use it.

Joshua also said that he originally began studying more of the technical side of visual communications/ animation. But he would only get more technical work. Then he decided to add some of his sketches to his online portfolio. The sketches he put online actually attracted new clients and gave him more illustration work. Currently the biggest part of his portfolio is illustration work, he still does the technical stuff, but primarily he does design and illustration work as a result of the added sketches. The style your portfolio has is the style of projects you will attract. So choose wisely on what work you put on your site. If you don’t want to do green-screen stuff for example, don’t show it!

We can see the same happening in the work of Buck L.A. where they used to do more (of a photo-realistic) 3D animations. We now see more illustrative / graphical styled work in their current portfolio. When Mike asked about that Joe confirmed that Buck is slightly going in a new direction but that’s also because of the people who are currently working there. Buck invested in talented designers like Joshua which resulted in a growth of the graphical portfolio quality of Buck. But next to investing in the people, Buck also invested time in projects. We heard before that there are some projects that pay the bills and there are projects you invest time and money in for your portfolio. The projects that pay the bills often don’t even make it to their online portfolio. No, they show the work they want to do! They show the work they are proud of and invested time and money in to be able to make them. That’s what passion is all about, making sacrifices to eventually be able to do (and create) the things you want to do. And Buck is the prove that doing this will result in new business opportunities in the area you invested in.

Joe showed us some projects they’re currently working on but also took the time to walk us through the process of ‘Good Books – Metamporphosis’. A project with a way more graphical approach than Buck was known for, an investment that started the change of Bucks portfolio. Jon Gorman (Buck NY) also talked a bit about this project. Joshua and Joe made it very clear that a project like Good Books is rare. The briefing was really clear, there was a script that was perfect to stimulate the imagination to get a bit crazy. He showed us some early sketches of the project and how it evolved to the final result. The process went really smooth and it felt like the ideal project. However, when they were almost finished with the first animations the server crashed completely and all the files were corrupt. They had to outsource the repairing of every single file bit by bit. Even then, not every file could be restored, it was a very time consuming and expensive setback in the project. They still have no idea how it happened, and they had to do much work all over again.

Luckily it all worked out in the end and we can enjoy once more this brilliant piece of art!

Through the success of Good Books they got more clients that liked the style of the Good Books piece. Which finally resulted in doing more graphical work and the slightly changed portfolio of Buck. It doesn’t mean that they can’t do the beautiful 3D stuff they used to be known for, it means that they keep pushing their boundaries as a studio and developing their own skill set.

We want to thank Joe and Joshua for making time for us in their busy schedule, it was inspiring to meet you guys and learn from your personal process! It’s great to see that a successful business like Buck moves with the people who work there. The studio keeps growing and evolving and by doing that they keep being the best in what they do!