Amber Lee Jones is a freelance illustrator and animator based in Albany, NY. She’s one of dozens of artists and animators who contributed sequences to the new short film “Cops and Robbers”, which is now streaming on Netflix.
Directors Arnon Manor and Timothy Ware-Hill sought talent from around the globe to provide the visuals for this new version of Ware-Hill’s powerful, poetic video released earlier this year. “C&R” is a direct response to the death of Ahmaud Arbery and is an incredible piece of commentary on race relations and the state of this country.
Jada Pinkett Smith serves as an executive producer, and Manor and Ware-Hill told me they’re thrilled Netflix came on board to release the short, which they hope encourages more diversity in the animation community. It could also receive Oscar and Annie Awards nominations.
Ware-Hill shared how Jones was selected to be a part of “C&R”: “She did the Black power fist [segment]. She moved pretty quickly. Her segment has a lot of movement to it. It has a lot of kinetic energy. She, like many of the other Black artists… we found her on Instagram. It was very important that 50%+ of the animators and post production team were Black because it’s a Black American experience.”
In this EXCLUSIVE Q&A, I asked Jones about her “Cops and Robbers” involvement:
LCJ: Timothy and Arnon told me they found you on Instagram. How did they reach out to you about being a part of this?
AMBER LEE JONES: Timothy messaged me on the Black Lives Matter piece I did during pride month for my comic “Spirit Pizza”. He sent me a more detailed email and I expressed my interest in participating since I don’t think my workload was that heavy at the time.
LCJ: How did you decide on what you wanted to create for your portion of the short?
ALJ: I knew I wanted to do something a little inspired by the sketchy lines of Yutaka Nakamura and something that also featured black women in some part so I chose the stanza I felt I could work that in the most. The first two sketches I sent to them were I think rough sketches of the man with his hands up and the transition to the black woman with her fist up.
LCJ: I heard the entire process was a fast-moving one. How long did your sequence take to make? When did you begin work on it and when did you need to submit it to them?
ALJ: I believe I started working on it towards the latter half of June and finished up towards the end of July/ beginning of August. I submitted versions of the work in progress via FTP [File Transfer Protocol] to the production team they had working on the project. I think July 25th was the original deadline but I believe I made edits after that version was sent in, hence the runover into August.
LCJ: What do you love most about the artwork/illustration/cartoon work that you do?
ALJ: What I like the most whether it’s animation or illustration is that I have the freedom to make what I want. Art is also problem solving in a fun way. Sometimes I get responses to my work along the lines of “I see myself reflected in your work” and it makes me happy to know it reaches some in that sense.
LCJ: “Cops and Robbers” is one of the most important pieces of filmmaking in 2020. What does your involvement in this mean to you?
ALJ: I’m thankful to be involved as a hand in a time when people need to see this type of content.
LCJ: Netflix is more popular than ever. How do you feel about your work being seen by nearly 200 million people around the world?
ALJ: I don’t think the true effect of it being on Netflix will hit me ’til a month after the fact. When I heard about it, my general thought was that it’s a cool milestone to reach and really great for the project to be archived in this way.
To see more of Jones’s work, follow her on Twitter @thatdaggerstar, Instagram @daggerstarfighter and visit daggerstar.works.