Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Injustice of it all (a non-art post)

There are several times in my life when I've been handed something that I clearly didn't deserve.  Let me enlighten you with an example.  In the year 2000, probably a day or two before graduation, it occurred to me that I had not ordered a cap and gown.  "Wait, we're supposed to order those?" I innocently said to myself. Sheepishly, I entered the school office and informed the administration of my pickle.  Sparing you the details, I walked out of the office with the new experimental cap and gown model some salesman was showcasing for next year's graduates.  It was made of a different shiny material that I think they use to make space suits or something.  As a reward for my ignorance, I was the only member of my graduating class that was practically glowing.

Anyone who knows my wife and my daughter would certainly agree that I got more than I deserved. Click this link and prepare to melt.

A couple weeks ago I was minding my own business when I got an invitation by email from a professor at UVU to attend an animation workshop in L.A. and visit DreamWorks, Sony ImageWorks, and Nickelodeon.  "Wait, What?!" I'm still a bit confused on why I got to go.  It was awesome.  

The following is a brief summary and a few highlights.

We drove west Sunday morning in a large van.  Attending were a professor, a coordinator, two seniors, and a lowly freshman (me). Monday we were greeted by the ACME Network, a non-profit organization that provides training and integration into the animation industry.  We then went to the DreamWorks Animation Studio and I was in shock.  

After the tour we had a complimentary lunch where I caught a glimpse of Hans Zimmer and Jeffrey Katzenberg. Hans was wearing gold pants. I happen to have a friend that works there as a story artist, Steven Macleod. After lunch he took me on a private tour and showed me all the studio offices.  He even showed me a secret room that was hidden behind a bookshelf on hinges. It almost felt like hallowed ground. Then Steve introduced me to Nicolas "Nico" Marlet.

This guy has been at DreamWorks since The Prince of Egypt and is highly revered for his character designs on Kung Fu Panda

and How To Train Your Dragon.

He was very kind even though I'm sure we were probably interrupting him.  He showed me some face-melting drawings that he was working on for How To Train Your Dragon 2. I couldn't tell if my eyes were opened wider than my mouth, but I'm sure I looked ridiculous.

Next I went back downstairs to attend a story workshop by industry veteran Frank Gladstone and David Pimentel, who is Head of Story at DreamWorks.

Me and Frank

Then we went out to dinner and I met Mark Walton who worked for Disney and is now with DreamWorks.  If you're familiar with the movie Bolt, he did the voice acting for the hamster character, Rhino. By the end of the day, I wasn't quite sure what hit me.

The next couple days we hit up Sony and Nickelodeon which were equally enjoyable. I'll spare you all the fanboy commentary. We drove back Wednesday and that was that. 

Now there might be two schools of thought on why I was afforded this opportunity.  1- Perhaps there is some super-cosmic force that is lobbing pitches my way despite my inadequacies and ignorances in order to prime me for something beyond my capacity to fully realize. Or 2 - It's just dumb luck. Regardless, I was very grateful for the opportunity.

The main thing I learned from this trip is that I want to break into this industry even more than before AND it's a lot more competitive and difficult than I thought.