Arts & Life, Features

Animated Film Production Association creates real-world animated filmmaking experience

On the first day of classes, third-year animation major Katerina Coronado and her peers were prompted to introduce themselves by sharing their dream jobs with the class. Several big-name animation studios flew around the room.

Pixar. Disney. Dreamworks.

This collective interest in working within the animated film industry got Coronado’s gears turning. 

“I thought, ‘If everyone’s interested in film and television, why don’t have a club centered around creating something that aims toward that goal of working at Disney or Pixar?’,” Coronado said. 

Students seeking a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an option in animation must apply with a “portfolio of 10 to 15 images representing your best past or current work in illustration or animation,” according to the Long Beach State School of Art website.

However, according to Coronado, many students apply for the program around their third year with little experience producing animated films or building a portfolio. This prompted Coronado to join forces with third-year studio arts major Nathan Xa to create a club that focused on producing a short student animated film over the course of a semester. 

“I remember Nathan mentioning that [he] was creating a video game and thinking, ‘Why isn’t there something like that for animation?’” Coronado said. 

Xa, who worked as a producer for the Video Game Development Association, saw the value of learning by creating and wanted a similar experience for animated filmmaking. 

“[VGDA] kind of changed their format to more of an educational setting,” Xa said. “Personally, I think it’s more helpful to learn by doing, so I wanted something similar to the format [VGDA] had when I joined as a freshman.” 

With an idea in mind and a strong desire to make it happen, Coronado and Xa took to student life and development in spring 2019 to propose the Animated Film Production Association, a club centered around the production of animated short films for students.

“Our goal is to have an animated film around three to five minutes that we can showcase at the end [of the semester] that everyone they can say they contributed to,” Coronado said.

After a year of organizing paperwork with student life and development, establishing constitution bylaws, finding club officers and spreading the word to other students within the school of art, Coronado and Xa had garnered interest from a significant number of art students. 

“I think when people started expressing that this is something they’re interested in…, I was starting to think, ‘OK maybe [it’s] not just something I can think about in my mind. I can make this reality,’” Coronado said. 

And the two made it a reality. 

The Animated Film Production Association became an officially recognized club in spring 2020, with Coronado serving as president and Xa as vice president. The organization is centered on producing at least one short, student animated film roughly three to five minutes in length and offering members the opportunity to experience working a full pipeline from pre-production to post-production work that mimics the animation industry. 

Coronado and Xa structured the club so members can have the opportunity to refine skills and experience all aspects of the animated filmmaking process, from storyboarding and character design to animation and editing.

“[The animation industry] deals with a lot of teamwork and we wanted to simulate that…,” Coronado said. “So by allowing [students] to join this club, then they’ll have that opportunity to actually work in a setting that actually mimics that.”

According to Xa, the club has a following of roughly 50 art students, but the duo is looking to collaborate with several departments across the university from music students to creative writing. However, Coronado stresses the fact that the club is open to students regardless of their major. 

The Animated Film Production Association meets Fridays at 4 p.m. in FA4-311 and will table at Week of Welcome Wednesday, Jan. 29 and Thursday, Jan. 30. 

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