2014's been a pretty big year so far, largely because it's been my final semester at CCA. I first came here as an exchange student three years ago in Spring 2011, which feels like a lifetime ago. Back then I was nothing but an enthusiastic little neophyte just starting to learn the basics of film and animation, having been a print media major for my first two years back at the ANU.
|Still from Adrift, my graduating piece at the Australian Nation University|
I was (and still am) in love with every facet of the animation process, however as time went on I knew that I needed to narrow my focus down and really figure out what role I play in this industry. My internship at LAIKA/house last summer was an amazing opportunity for many, many reasons, one of which being the variety of hats I got to wear: a bit of concept art here, a bit of character design there, some fabrication grunt work and photo manipulation on the side, et cetera. When I got to look back on the experience, however, it started to dawn on me that I was really in my element when I was storyboarding. Couple that with a pretty successful trip showing my boards around at CTN and it was clear: that's what I should be focusing on.
|A shot I worked on at LAIKA/house. I actually got payed to draw Optimus Prime decking Megatron.|
Being that graduation was coming up fast and without a job I'd have to leave the U.S. soon after, I had to make the first tough decision of the year: halting production on my senior film, Forge of Iron and devoting my time to building a studio-worthy story portfolio from scratch. Thankfully, that step paid off: after sending my portfolio and applying to a swath of positions, I started to get some nibbles. Tests. Big tests. Even though I was miserable about having to freeze Forge of Iron, at least I knew that my last-minute re-invention as Simon Thelning: Story Artist wasn't hopeless.
|A panel from one of the story tests I did this semester.|
The CCA grad show came and went without a finished film by me and without any job offers. Things felt pretty bleak as I was beginning to accept that this wasn't my time to become part of the animation industry and that I'd have to devise a new plan of attack back in Australia. Skip forward one week, however and I'd received offers from not one but two major studios. Cue the second tough decision of the year and probably the hardest choice I've had to make in my life so far. I spent my graduation ceremony looking at Glassdoor.
I've been hesitant about posting about this until it was set in stone but I'm finally comfortable with saying: later this month I'll be starting as a storyboard revisionist at Nickelodeon. In the mad rush to find a job, I kind of lost sight of the fact that the places I was applying to were my inspiration as a kid. Seeing the Nick studio, let alone working there is sincerely the first childhood dream I can remember having.
So that's pretty cool.
|If someone can send this to seven-year-old me that'd be great.|
I'll be posting pieces from my story portfolio shortly, so thanks everyone for your patience and support!
Simon Thelning: Story Artist