We had the pleasure of chatting with Aaron and Kaari all about their short animated comedy called The Sales Off! Be sure to check it out to learn more about inspirations, tips for new writers, and more about the project!
Q: Tell us about The Sales Off!
The Sales-Off is an animated short series about Vincent and Jake (a talking dog and deer respectively), who are stuck working a boring office job at a sales company. Deep down, Vincent dreams of becoming an accomplished pianist, but work has become his priority. Jake’s priority, on the other hand, is his dream of designing video games, and he avoids work at all costs. The two clash; and due to pressure from mysterious “powers that be” to improve performance, Jake challenges Vincent to a “sales-off” to determine the best salesman. However, this competition comes at a dire cost. The Sales-Off is a story about the dangers of corporate greed, and sacrificing one’s passions for it.
I’m so happy with how this whole thing turned out. I feel like The Sales Off truly captured a specific time in our lives where we were so fed up with this polycule of “having time to make art” and “needing to work for money”. Neither of us really felt like we were valued at our jobs and I think that really made its way into the film as well. But, we’re also both caught in this place where, I think Aaron and I are equally wanting to do our best wherever we are and a big part of The Sales Off is having that moment where you step back and say to yourself “I don’t even care about this job! How much of my potential future should I be willing to sacrifice just to make the owners of whatever company a couple extra bucks?” There’s a kind of Marxist alienation from the self that we feel as artists. At work we feel like we’re having to become entirely different people in order to make it through the day. It’s not a new idea but, I hope we could present it in a unique way.
The development of this project had humble beginnings: 4 years ago I doodled a grumpy, cynical, rectangular dog in a sketchbook. I thought for a while about who he was, where he worked, and who he worked with. This fuzzy idea was on the backburner until late 2021, when I made a post online in search of a writer. Through this, I was incredibly fortunate to meet Kaari, who became a wonderful collaborator and friend. He found the emotional core of the story, and helped turn my disjointed concepts into a realized story and characters.
Well, thank you! Yeah, it became clear to me pretty early on that we were getting along pretty well. It’s so rare to find people that you really click with especially when working creatively. I want it on the record that Aaron Carothers is easily the hardest working person I’ve ever met, completely self taught, not just with animation but with music composition. He’s just a natural and I hope he gets the recognition he deserves.
Q: What motivates your work?
Aaron: I think we all as creatives get that burning desire to make something cool, or tell an engaging story, and share our artistic point of view with others. That passion is certainly a core motivator for my work, and I’m even more motivated when I see it in other people too.
Animation takes a lot of time and effort, and usually you’re fiddling with drawings or virtual armatures for hours in order to act through the characters on screen for only a few seconds of film. But what keeps me motivated is finding the satisfaction in those few seconds I accomplished today. Watching what was once only an idea in my imagination be brought to life on screen is like watching a magic trick. Even though I know how it’s done, it still captivates me.
And of course, I’m motivated and inspired by the love and support from the friends I collaborate with, and my family. I’m sure it slightly concerned my parents when their son first decided to seek the unconventional route of making cartoon animals talk as a career. I would not have been able to invest the time that I have towards this work if it weren’t for their understanding and support, which I greatly appreciate.
Q: What tips would you give to new writers?
Aaron: This is definitely Kaari’s area of expertise, so I will pass the mic to him.
I’m going to try and keep this short, if I had to say one thing it would be:
“Don’t be afraid to have something to say and then say it.”
We all know the whole “Show, don’t tell” rule. I don’t know if this is controversial but I feel like sometimes this rule can be taken too far. Or writers can be so afraid to “tell” that they wind up never saying anything at all. Then I look at works that I really appreciate, movies like “Sorry to Bother You” and it’s like “Wow, there’s so much telling” message wise. The point of the movie is very clear; unions are good, workers are being dehumanized, the interplay between government and business is clear. And yet, it’s still a great movie.
Because instead of figuring out ways to obfuscate and dilute the message of the movie. To leave things up to audience interpretation or not come across as “Preachy”, Boots Reily, a communist, found an interesting, engaging way to say what he wanted to say. And then he said it, unfiltered. I think that’s our job as writers.
Q: How do you avoid burn outs?
Aaron: I find it very helpful to keep track each day of how much time I spend animating; this not only keeps me accountable, but also allows me to set a cutoff point to avoid burnout. Appropriate breaks away from an intensive project are important, and for me that might even mean simply working on something different for a little while. Often it’s during these pauses that I can reflect on the story, and find solutions to problems or bits of inspiration to infuse back into the animation when I return.
Q: What has been your biggest success story so far as a creator?
Aaron: This year I got the opportunity to team up with Pemberton County, an animation cooperative, to help bring writer Edward Hamel’s vision to life. Murder Town is an upcoming independent animated series about an interactive True Crime destination (think Inside Job mashed up with Jurassic Park), and is the biggest project I’ve animated on to date.
Honestly, same. I was Assistant Director on that project and I owe that position to my working with Aaron on “The Sales Off”.
Q: Goals for 2024
Aaron: One goal of mine is certainly to finish up animation on The Sales-Off, as there are two remaining episodes to the story. This year alone, I’ve made so many connections through this project, which have led to other awesome opportunities that I’m grateful to have been a part of. I would love to continue this momentum into the next year and find more work in the field of animation.
I think momentum is a good general theme I’d like to see in 2024. Aaron and I both have been branching out and trying to see what’s out there in terms of making it as an artist. Obviously it’s not the easiest thing in the world but, I feel like we’re closer to that goal than ever before and I think we have a couple of projects in the works that should be making splashes in the new year, specifically “My Friend Fabien” and “Murdertown” I’m excited to promote and see the response to.
Q: Where can folks support your work
Aaron: You can find my animation reel and illustrations, as well as links to all my socials on my website! www.aaroncarothers.com
I don’t have a website but, if you’re working on something and looking for a writer :eyes: :eyes: you can DM me on Twitter @kcbride.
Oh, I guess there’s the Pemberton County website, https://www.pembertoncounty.com/