October is the month for ghouls and goblins, witch’s brew and ghost tales, horror motion pictures and chilling novels.
It’s additionally the time of yr Rick Clifton discovered his calling in life — at a horror film conference.
And regardless of the generally horroresque tenor of 2020, that is the yr that Clifton reached the top of his profession — snagging a Daytime Emmy Award within the class of Excellent Promo, Model Picture Marketing campaign, Community or Program for the “She-Ra and the Princesses of Energy: Worldwide Ladies’s Day 2019” episode of the animated net sequence.
Clifton, a Surry County native, did the award-winning challenge for Dreamworks Animation, the place he serves as Artistic AV Director.
Regardless of success in his chosen discipline, working as a advertising and audio visible artist was not on his radar when he first set his sights on a profession path — he needed to be a tv and film actor.
Rising up in Dobson, Clifton stated he attended Copeland Elementary College, the place the performing bug first bit him.
“I definitely did some performing in elementary faculty,” he stated of that first publicity to the stage. “The performs I did at school had been at all times enjoyable. Nerve wracking as hell, however once you do that you just get this cost once you go on stage, and also you wish to do it once more. As quickly because it’s over it’s like ‘What’s subsequent?’”
As he moved by way of center faculty after which highschool, Clifton stated he had different pursuits and wasn’t concerned in any theater productions, although he stored the thought of finally being an actor shut at coronary heart.
“The large factor for me, Andy Griffith was at all times an inspiration for me, and the truth that he was from our space. I wrote a letter to him after I was 14 or 15. I used to be attempting to determine how you can break into this enterprise, asking him what I’ve to do.”
Whereas he didn’t obtain a reply, he stored the thought of pursuing display screen work behind his thoughts, ending his research at Surry Central Excessive College, then incomes an affiliate’s diploma in industrial artwork from Surry Neighborhood Faculty.
After that, he headed west.
“I left house after I was 20, perhaps 21, began making my method right here towards California,” he stated lately from his house within the Los Angeles group of Sherman Oaks. “I got here right here eager to be within the motion pictures…Once I got here out right here I dove proper in, performing for 3 years.”
Finally the sobering actuality of how excessive the percentages had been stacked towards him making it massive began to settle in. He did have some restricted success, performing in three pilot exhibits for sequence that, sadly, had been by no means picked up by a community or cable outlet.
“Attempting to be an actor in LA is extraordinarily difficult in and of itself simply because so many individuals come right here wanting to do this,” he stated of these early days of his profession. “Attempting to outlive in an enormous metropolis whereas going out on auditions all day lengthy, and having a job that enables you the pliability to do this, and pay your payments and pay your lease, purchase your meals…it was a tough life-style.”
Many finally wash out, by no means making rather more than a pittance from performing earlier than leaving the leisure discipline completely — usually going again to wherever house is with out a lot to indicate for an leisure profession.
Clifton, nonetheless, found one thing about himself throughout these hard-scrabble days.
“I discovered rather more love behind the digital camera. I appreciated storytelling, I needed to inform tales, however what I discovered …was you might have a lot larger management of the narrative working behind the digital camera.”
So he switched fields. As an alternative of audition after audition, he started taking different jobs on the units, no matter he might get, “Working my method as much as be taught to be a producer for motion pictures and tv, issues alongside that nature.” Whereas that path provided common employment, it was nonetheless an extended haul, with loads of of us round him working towards the identical aim.
“I began out as a manufacturing assistant…I used to be fortunate sufficient to land a job as a manufacturing supervisor a couple of yr later, I did that for fairly a while. It was nice, it wasn’t only one specific function, once you’re three folks in an organization, you must be extraordinarily versatile and be taught so many alternative expertise. It was extraordinarily beneficial, I used to be capable of be taught what all goes right into a tv present or film.”
Nonetheless, it was his work on a kind of failed tv pilots which finally put him on the trail to his current profession.
“One of many failed pilots I used to be engaged on had me going round by way of totally different (movie) festivals as a part of the present,” he stated. At a kind of festivals he met Rachel Belofsky, who in 2001 was a co-founder of Screamfest, which has turn into the most important and longest-running horror movie competition in the USA.
“I met her in doing that present (the failed pilot). The following season of her competition, we talked, she requested me to return and assist her out,” with publicity.
That was in 2005.
“I labored for her for one season, it was actually what opened the door for me by way of advertising and publicity,” he stated.
Clifton started taking jobs and tasks that will match inside his newfound occupation, providing paychecks and the prospect to be taught. All of the whereas, he had his sights set on working for one of many greatest gamers in Hollywood — Dreamworks.
In 2007, he lastly landed an interview — however no job supply got here of it.
“I knew somebody who labored there who managed to get me an interview.” Whereas that first interview didn’t pan out with any job on the firm, he stored going again, each time he might get somebody to speak with him a couple of job opening. “I simply stored interviewing, it took me a couple of yr, actually, getting a number of interviews with a number of folks.”
Lastly, in 2008, he was employed within the advertising division, and since then he’s labored his method as much as his current place.
“Principally, I produce all of the trailers,” he stated. Any type of promotional piece that’s put collectively for the corporate’s tv exhibits, which stream on Netflix, Hulu, the Peacock Community, and different shops, in addition to web-based sequence. He additionally does numerous the video promotions on the Dreamworks Fb web page.
“It’s a really fast-paced business, that I really like, the power of that.”
This yr’s Emmy Award isn’t his first brush with peer recognition. Earlier in 2020 he received a Clio Award, which he described as basically the Academy Awards of promoting. “One of many greatest promoting awards you may get,” he stated. Previous to this yr, he’d been nominated for 4 Emmy Awards.
“The primary time I received nominated, I used to be out of my thoughts ecstatic about it,” he stated. “It was simply probably the greatest emotions on this planet. That previous adage it’s simply an honor to be nominated, is basically freaking true. I used to be on prime of the world.”
“That was taking it to a different degree. I don’t know that I can discover phrases to explain how I felt that night time. I used to be in a gathering and my telephone beginning blowing up, I assumed ‘What is occurring?’ I used to be afraid one thing unhealthy had occurred.”
Regardless of his success, Clifton hasn’t forgotten his roots. He stays in shut contact together with his mom, Bertha Clifton, and the remainder of this household, and tries to make it again to Dobson at the very least as soon as yearly to go to household and associates.
When he’s not creating advertising items for Dreamworks, Clifton spends his spare time pursuing a passion that lets him benefit from the delicate California local weather: operating and competing in triathlons.
“I’ve at all times appreciated operating, I did numerous operating in elementary faculty. Once I received right here, the climate is so nice, I began operating once more. Once I received to Dreamworks, now we have a triathlon staff, somebody requested me to affix. I fell in love with triathlons.”
As a runner, he stated he’s executed fairly just a few half-marathons, two full marathons (26.2 miles) and “rather a lot” of triathlons. Whereas the distances of these differ, those he principally competes in encompass a half-mile swim, a 5K run (3.1 miles) adopted by an 18-mile bike trip.
“It’s enjoyable. Working is my factor, biking is nice, too. I did a motorcycle trip from San Francisco to LA as soon as. It simply relieves numerous stress for certain, nevertheless it’s simply enjoyable to be energetic, be within the outside. “