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Students Get a Chance to Mingle with Animator at Campus Pub

Ioana Patringenaru | June 15, 2009

Be nice. Put your writing out there. If it’s good, it will get picked up. These were some of the pieces of advice that filmmaker and UC San Diego alumnus Mike Judge shared with a group of students during a lunch at Porter’s Pub Friday.

Judge was on campus to serve as the keynote speaker during UCSD’s second annual All Campus Graduation Celebration Friday at RIMAC. But he first mingled good-naturedly with students and staff members alike at the pub, signing autographs on everything from napkins, DVDs and hard-drive cases. He chatted with undergraduates and answered their questions. He even drew a sketch of Butt-Head, one of the characters that made him famous, for the department of physics.

“It’s great to be back here,” Judge said during an impromptu speech at the pub.

“This is the only place that looks the same,” he added.

Judge has affected everyone on campus through his TV shows and movies, said Sarah Chang, the outgoing president of the UCSD Student Foundation. “He’s a really nice person and he’s funny,” she said. “Which is everything you want a Triton to be.”

Judge showed up for the lunch at the pub without an entourage, wearing an open-collar orange shirt and denim grey pants. He patiently shook hands and answered questions. Four students were particularly excited to meet the filmmaker after winning a contest to have lunch with him. To win a coveted seat at the lunch, they were asked to describe why they should become filmmakers.

Photo of Mike Judge and Students
Judge poses with three of the students who won a contest to meet him.

Kyle Anderson, an MFA acting student, talked about being entranced while watching movies. He would love to generate the same feeling in others, he added, citing as his influences “The Graduate,” “Donnie Darko,” “Good Will Hunting” and “Children of Men.”

“He’s kind of an inspiration,” Anderson said of Judge. “He’s a pioneer of TV. I just admire him as an independent spirit.”

During the lunch, Anderson got tips from Judge about going to auditions. The filmmaker was heartened to hear that the student already had an agent. “He comes off as an ordinary guy,” Anderson said after his chat. “But he’s a master.”

Doug Macklina UCSD sophomore, asked Judge about how to break into the writing business. The filmmaker described calling information to find out where he could mail the first short animated cartoons he made. “I was embarrassed that I had to do that,” he told students. Today, the game is a little different, he added. Put a piece of writing out there, and if it’s really good, someone will pick it up as word-of-mouth works its magic, he said. Macklin said he liked that Judge thought you could pave your own way in the business.

Daniel Crotty, another winner, gave Judge a DVD of his 2006 movie “Idiocracy” to autograph. Steve Capizzi, also a winner, stood in line with a napkin. Another student presented Judge with a print-out of one of her final papers. He gave her an A+, and an autograph.

Photo of Mike Judge
Judge answers questions from students and staff members and poses for photographs.

Talking to another group of students, Judge advised them to just be nice. “There are so many people that sabotage themselves by being difficult,” he said. (News stories have portrayed Judge as very quiet and highly unlikely to raise his voice on a set.)

Judge’s shows and movies may be quirky and funny, but they definitely carry a message, said Gary Ratcliff, assistant vice chancellor of Student Life. “He’s got a moral compass,” Ratcliff said. “He makes a statement about our culture.”

Friday, it seemed like Judge would have lingered at the pub for hours, signing autographs and answering questions. Then, staff members from the UCSD Alumni Association whisked him to his next appointment. Students left the pub, while still talking to their friends about meeting the filmmaker. “He’s very down to earth,” Macklin said.


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