Saturday, March 22, 2014

Portfolio Day: Part 2

I'm going to apologize- from the beginning- for leaving off on such a cliffhanger last post.  I just couldn't bear to include all of this story with the previous stuff.

I'll try to keep this short, but no promises.  Every time I try to tell it to my family or friends or coworkers when they ask what happened on Portfolio Day, it takes me an hour to explain!

After I put out my portfolio on the tables (I never even took a picture of the set-up!), I bailed.  I didn't want to be anywhere near it.  All the TAs were doing a final sweep to make sure everything was fine.  And I forgot to push play on my laptop!  Thankfully, the amazing Tammy asked me if I remembered.  You should've seen my BOLT ACTION™!  (It was already 9 o'clock and we are restricted from the area.  Never mind that the pros were already walking the portfolios!)  Bet THAT looked real professional!

I went to find solace in Sculpture class. ...  I didn't find it.  It eluded me for the rest of the day!

I literally sat with one of my tools between my thumbs, spinning it for at least an hour- staring off into space. I got NOTHING done on Joker in the morning class. Just had a mild freak out. My friend Sydney said something HY-STER-I-CAL in class and I just bust out laughing for several minutes, then- quick as a flash- I was crying! XD (At this point, my sister would call me a Drama Queen.) But I think the laughing had just finally opened the dam that I had all the stress behind.

For lunch, I ran away with Sydney and my friend (NOT the sculpture) Harley. I swore on our way back to the Main Building that I wasn't going to go and look to see if the callbacks had been posted yet. I didn't want to see! But as we were heading to the Cafe, I heard the noise. The sound of dozens of animators talking all at once. I knew instantly that the pages for callbacks had been posted. And I had no power over myself. I HAD to go look! The anticipation and fear was only intensified when one of my classmates, Taylor, said that she thought she saw my name on a couple. I felt like a deer in headlights.

I bee-lined for the boards and started the agonizing scan of the pages for my name. I found one- Nickelodeon. My callback was at 2, with a bunch of others.

Suddenly, the idea of eating was not a pleasant one. I hate half a bowl of plain rice. Seriously, I was that freaked out. So I went back to my second sculpture class at 1 and waited...

I got to talk to the amazing Nick reps and was encouraged to apply for their internships this summer and their other programs. They gave us some sweet stuff/bags, but ran out. I told them I loved getting mail, so I gave them my address. After I did, the lady said, "Oh, you're Amanda!" (Cue deer in headlights.) She told me that Nick, Jr. had been there that morning, but had to split. They'd left invitations for five people for an event and I was one of the 5! It was a thing called Noodles & Doodles. They apologized for the short notice, but it was at 6 PM that night. Another friend of mine, Yerang, was also invited, so I got a ride with her.

Back in sculpture class after my callback, I went nuts on Joker. I still didn't get a LOT done, but I sliced him in half and severed one of his arms and completely changed his position to "plus" his pose. It felt really nice to basically destroy him so that I could put him back together. Then John Mahoney and I monkeyed around...

"Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy."
Yes, I crack myself up! XD

After class, I went to Nickelodeon Studios for the first time! Yerang and I took pictures inside their cool courtyard.

Noodles and Doodles turned out to be a fun thing. They fed us some yummy Asian-style noodles and stuff. Another of my classmates, Brooke was there. And an alum, Darrell- who graduated my freshman year, I think. There were maybe 30-40 people there. Students like us, and also like Nickelodeon professionals! EEK! NO PRESSURE! Then we drew from some prompts they gave us. I liked one or two I drew. This one was my favorite though.

They kept all the doodles we made- which they are going to give to some board of important people or something and see if anything we did can be turned into a series or short or something. They said they would notify us if ours was selected- in 6 months to a year! So, I'm not exactly holding my breath, you know? hahaha! But that would seriously be SO COOL!

Then we went home! It was one HECK of a day! We were pooped!


The thing I walk away from Portfolio Day with is the utmost sense of blessing. And I don't mean because I got a callback, finally! I mean: this event is something that the school arranges for us- they beat the streets looking for studios to come to look at our stuff and try to get us hired. This is NOT a required part of our curriculum. In other words- THEY DON'T HAVE TO DO THIS for us! This is something they MAKE happen. It is the most unbelievable opportunity for us to get our names in the minds of studio people. This is coming from someone who DIDN'T get a personal interview with some studio or a 'job' out of it! (Spoiler alert: NO ONE walks out of portfolio day with a job anymore.) But the amazing crew of Character Animation busted their tails to make this opportunity for us- and I will be forever grateful. This is one of those things that just wouldn't have happened at any other school- hence my sincere love of CalArts. I know I am in the right place.

This place is magical.

Portfolio Day: Part 1

I feel like I need to make a post about Portfolio Day 2014. I hope you all will forgive me for whatever may follow.

I don't know how many of you reading this have also seen or read Mario Furmanczyk's blog on but it's how I learned all about CalArts when I was trying to apply. (It has changed so much since I saw it last.) But as a prospective student wanting to go to CalArts- was that so long ago?- I read every word Mario had written in the four years he attended and came to believe that it was the model of what a Character Animator's time at CalArts should be. Yes, I was young(er) and stupid. As a friend recently told me when I relayed this to her, "It's like Facebook, you only show the good stuff." And she was so right. I mean, Mario's journey wasn't all sunshine and rainbows, but it seemed pretty glamorous to me- a girl from small town South, in no way, shape, or form related to the industry.

And I must admit something else- much of my model for this blog was what Mario had done with his. I wanted to show class assignments, works-in-progress, and especially WRITE about my time here; not just for my own memories and sentimentality, but for other prospective students who maybe needed a more 'recent' blog. Maybe I was a little full of myself, but I felt that I had noble intentions.

However, I also thought that my journey would be as successful and glorious as Mario's. His tale featured awesome teachers, pictures of an amazing ORANGE! cube, and in the second semester of every year: an entry about Portfolio Day/Job Fair. I feel like he got a callback every year. (It's been QUITE a while since I read the whole blog- and being in my fourth year, trying to finish my last film- I don't really have time now. Just take my word for it?) Callbacks from Pixar, Disney, etc. And he DESERVED IT! I think very highly of Mr. Furmanczyk. It was what I wanted for myself. Who wouldn't- right?

But my journey is mine- not his. (And that is neither here nor there, not better or worse- it is simply mine.)

I did not get callbacks my freshman, sophomore, or junior year. And I will be very frank with you- as long as you'll still be Garth. I cried. Every year when my name wasn't on one of those pages, I cried. Sometimes publicly, a lot by myself- wondering why I wasn't good enough. But I understand now. I wasn't ready. My work wasn't good enough. This industry won't take you if you aren't better than your competition. And competition at CalArts is ROUGH! I go to school with some of the most talented m*****- uhh... people on the face of the planet.

No, I am serious. They are from places like India, Japan, China, Korea, Canada, Germany- the ENTIRE WORLD!

So, part of me thinks I was unbelievably STUPID to think that I would just naturally rise to the "top"- which, I hate to burst your bubble, doesn't exist! And the other part of me can't even believe that I have come so far.

ALL OF THAT SAID- I was not exactly looking FORWARD to my last Portfolio Day. Quite the contrary- I wanted it to be over with so I could focus on my film and move on. I expected nothing and thought, perhaps, that would help spare me the tears.

It didn't.
I still cried.
Before my portfolio was even reviewed.
I broke from the stress and cried.

This is stuff no one ever talks about and that kind of freaks me out. Why does no one ever talk about the stress the animators here put on themselves to make themselves whatever the studios might want? I can tell you that the school doesn't put a third of the pressure on us that we put on ourselves.

So, in an effort to circumvent that feeling of rejection, I threw together a portfolio that I wanted to put together, instead of something that might be what They want. Mostly, I wanted to show off my pretty sculptures. I didn't want the focus on the book. (I probably failed miserably there.) Anyway, instead of putting together an "animation portfolio", or a "story portfolio", or anything else (mostly because I didn't have enough of any of those to fill a portfolio), I threw together something I called a "film development portfolio". I literally threw all the doodles, final boards as well as for abandoned scenes, and the progress of how my character designs came to be for my last year's film, Asterope. I just didn't care. I was sick of stressing myself to the point of being sick.

How funny then, that I would get my first ever callback this year. From Nickelodeon. I even took a picture of the callback page- just like Mario. HAHA!

It sort of scares me how much Portfolio Day is EXACTLY the same as Mario described it, as well as how the Big Wigs from Pixar, Disney, etc. described it FROM THE 70's in the March Vanity Fair article! (Seriously, if you haven't picked that up, go find it on the VF blog. I consider it a must-read!) But it's also changed- for ME- a lot. I like how my approach to it has changed, as well as my opinion of it. I come out of my fourth year Portfolio Day with a whole different outlook than when I went in three years ago. Wiser, thankfully.

Okay, that's it for Part 1- guh! So much text!
Also, as a final note: should Mr. Furmanczyk read this- I apologize if I come off as some crazy fan girl, I certainly don't mean to. But I do feel the need to express to you how much your blog meant to that stupid girl I used to be- haha! Thank you, Mario.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Harley Quinn sculpture- finished

WARNING!: This is an image-heavy post.

So, I am falling a little behind on posting pics- but I finished the Harley sculpture on March 2nd. (I wish I were still in the routine of taking in progress pictures at the end of each class, but my current schedule doesn't allow me that time, strange as it sounds.) I am unbelievably proud of how she came out, I must say.

I dedicated my entire day to finishing her off, once and for all. I drew in the diamonds, painted a base coat and then the final acrylic paint.

Then it was a couple of thin coats of white paint, careful not to get too thick anywhere. I didn't want to lose ANY detail! After that it was thin coats of red and finally the black! OMG! SO MUCH TIME!

Suddenly the last thing left to do was the face and hands. (OMG, don't even get me STARTED on the hands! I will NEVER, EVER sculpt hands like ~that~ again!) But once that was done- HOT DOG! I had a FINISHED SCULPTURE! And it only took me EIGHTEEN HOURS! XD

So now my pretty girl is all done and ready for her close-up. (And now she's on my business card!) *heart*

Now that Harley is all done, I am trying to attack my Joker sculpture as fast as I can for Portfolio Day- a week from today. GAH! He may be a rough sculpture- not painted, but I sincerely want him out there with Harley if I can. I mean, I guess at some point I need to commit- will it be Asterope or Joker who goes out to Portfolio Day? I honestly can't decide at the moment. I have the companion piece for both finished. I just have to pick which pair is stronger.

As a progress piece for Joker: I hated the massive amounts of Chavant I had to use on him, so I decided to rip it all off, and add more aluminum foil. It took a while to finaggle, but I did it!

I will try to grab new pictures of Joker soon- he's starting to look like something now. I am a little stoked. Some people in my class are planning another sculpture marathon (aka: A "sculpt-a-thon") this weekend. I may have a completely rough Joker by the end of it. Wish me luck!