Saturday, March 22, 2014

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.

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