Alumnus works as director in Hollywood
Picture used with permission from David Tuber
by Rosalie Chan, Web Editor
David Tuber, director and ‘00 alumnus, draws “all the time.” When he attended WHS, he would draw Fun Run T-shirts, student council posters and band program covers. Now, he works in Hollywood on various productions, including stop motion animation shows.
“We just wrapped up production for ‘Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole’ (a stop motion animation show on Adult Swim),” Tuber said. “We direct the entire process from writing to post-effects at the very end, but we sometimes help with writing and directing voice actors.”
Tuber graduated from Columbia College in Chicago, majoring in film and television with a concentration in traditional animation. He now lives in Los Angeles.
Six years ago, Tuber moved to California and started working as an intern for “Robot Chicken,” a stop motion animated TV series.
“I guess I impressed teachers so they helped me get a good reel together and get in touch with people in Hollywood,” Tuber said. “I worked my butt off intensely. I mean, I worked really hard, long hours for free. It was all worth it.”
Then, Tuber received a temporary storyboarding job at Shadowmachine Films, which was supposed to last two months but actually lasted five years.
Tuber first directed animation in 2008 when he directed and co-wrote the season finale of “Moral Orel,” a stop motion TV series.
While working for “Moral Orel,” Tuber and a friend once spent two and a half months constructing an unreleased episode with clay and cardboard just for fun.
“For an episode in ‘Moral Orel,’ we had to stop basically halfway. It was supposed to be left for dead,” Tuber said. “It took two and a half months of intense work, and no one’s ever seen it. It was a true labor of love. We made it unofficially without help. The network still doesn’t know about it.”
In 2009, Dino Stamatopoulos, writer and producer, gave Tuber the job of directing “Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole.”
“Sometimes I storyboard…sometimes I help in the live shoot…I always have to keep busy with different things,” Tuber said. “It’s always good to keep busy and try on as many hats as you can. You may surprise yourself and find out you have a knack for something.”
Working in Hollywood
Tuber has also worked in “Titan Maximum” and “Community.”
“It’s a small community, especially stop motion. You can meet anyone you want, and if you’re good enough, they can work for you. Then, it’s totally up to you to become a success,” Tuber said.
According to Tuber, working in Hollywood “has its ups and downs.”
“Hollywood is a lot like a theme park. It doesn’t seem real,” Tuber said. “The theme of this park is film, and everyone knows the lingo. It’s kind of like Las Vegas…it’s hard to take this place seriously.”
Andrew Racho, freelance artist and Tuber’s co-worker, has known Tuber since they worked on “Robot Chicken.” They recently worked together on “Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole,” where Racho worked as the visual effects supervisor.
“It’s kind of funny since in the industry we’re in, a lot of times we work on each other’s projects. David helped me on an animated short. This time David directed me,” Racho said. “We both have ambitions in 2-D animation. Dave’s a good guy to work for and work with.”
Drawing in high school
According to Tuber, when he attended Wheeling, teachers supported him in his drawing.
“The teachers really really supportive, even the gym teachers. I used to draw T-shirts for the Fun Run,” Tuber said. “No (I haven’t been discouraged from going into an art career), surprisingly, which is rare for any artist. Anybody I knew was really supportive.”
Tuber used to draw cartoons for Spokesman. According to Dr. Richard Watson, guidance counselor, Tuber also drew banners and participated in the Homecoming window painting.
“He was a gifted cartoonist. He could just sit and sketch cartoons,” Dr. Watson said. “Whatever class he was in, they always won the window painting…He had a wonderful sense of humor.”
Brian Logan, band director, had Tuber draw band program covers. In addition, Tuber drew cartoons of Mr. Logan’s children.
“He was drawing all the time. He was very talented and unique,” Mr. Logan said. “I brought pictures of my kids. I told him what their hobbies were, and he drew cartoon characters of each kid.”
Film, television and drawing
Tuber grew up watching movies like “Beetlejuice,” “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and shows like “Ren & Stimpy” that influence him in his work today. According to Tuber, he has always enjoyed film, television and drawing.
“When I was a kid, I used to watch cartoons and wish I could talk to the creator,” Tuber said. “My favorite types (of drawings) are just creative cartoons, either digitally or paper and pencil. I just like to draw really cartoony animation. Sometimes I have a dark sense of humor.”
Even though Tuber likes 2-D animation and cartoons the most, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” became a major factor in getting him interested in stop motion.
“The simplest action (in stop motion) is a challenge. If you want a character to pick up a book, it can be a problem,” Tuber said. “We only have so much time to shoot each episode and break it down. We have to find out how much time and how much money it costs…It’s about picking your battles and knowing which shot will be worth it.”
Current projects and goals
Tuber currently works as a character designer on the “Legos” feature film, as well as working on his pilot.
“I’m a director today, and I might be a storyboard artist tomorrow. I have a lot of things I want to do…That’s really cool and stressful,” Tuber said. “Another cool thing about directing is seeing your vision brought to screen.”
Tuber hopes to have his own 2-D animated show someday, and if possible, have a studio in Chicago.
“Chicago is the greatest city in the freaking world,” Tuber said. “I still just like drawing comics, and the best way to show them off is if they’re moving and speaking.”