Emily Jenson graduated from SCAD June 2019, and is currently working at Titmouse studio in LA as a Production Assistant. Emily produced a handful of films while at SCAD, including For Luna, Woman on the Rock, and Hong Kong. She was also the first student aide for the chair of the animation department, and was responsible for a lot of things, including this blog!
What was it like for you to attend SCAD?
It was incredible. When I applied to SCAD I had this idea of what college would be like, you know? Like the average teen movie about college; friends, learning, and experiences that shape who you are. That’s what I was expecting going in, already a kind of tall order… but it was so much better! I found myself getting a level confidence that I thought only existed in those movies. I actually felt like I was the main character with a grand adventure before me. I went to every club meeting that I could, went to every lecture, took the most difficult classes I could find, and I actually TALKED TO PEOPLE! I made friends that I’ll have for life. It was so surreal to see myself doing the things I always imagined myself doing but never actually felt like I could. So it was incredible for me to attend SCAD.
What area of Animation did you focus on?
Production! So I went in thinking I was going to be a 2D Character Animator. I realized about a quarter and a half into it that the people doing the actual animation are incredibly talented, and while I enjoyed it, I found that after staring at a cintiq for more than four hours at a time I start to go a little crazy. *Laughs* Which is not good if you’re considering that as a career choice, so I started to explore other options in animation, because I still knew that I wanted to do something IN animation. I found production management. I wanted to support these people who were making these incredible works of art. Also because I love using Shotgun! It’s a fantastic way to track assets in animation and I love that the SGDM 560 courses are using it.
What inspired you during a difficult project?
Honestly, the people here. I remember when there was that hurricane in 2017 and the Fall quarter got smooshed into nine weeks. Finals week for that was the worst! I took three studio classes; all very intense. I think I only slept for about four hours during the week of finals. It was the worst, BUT my roommate (Madison Fullmer, the sweetest and most fantastic person) was doing the same thing so we bonded over the sheer insanity of that week. Like if she was struggling I would try to help; when I was struggling she would help me. Everyone is just super supportive of each other. If you have questions you can reach out, it’s a very open and welcoming environment.
Thinking back to when you first started at SCAD, what advice would you give yourself?
That’s a good one. Honestly, I would tell myself to do it all the same. Had known I wanted to do production management before I applied to SCAD, I wouldn’t have gone to SCAD. Instead I would have attended a school for business management and missed out on so much. I would also say try to do everything that makes you happy and try to learn as much as possible. Take that foley class, go to the cool lecture, check out clubs and events. But also, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do everything. I stressed about grades WAY too much, and I don’t think that would change even if I told myself not to. I remember when I was getting settled in for my first quarter, my parents were telling me how this was a great experience and I was going to do great. That I didn’t have to stress about grades and could fully enjoy my time here. Not to say that I didn’t fully enjoy SCAD, but I definitely worried about grades more than I had too.
How do you unwind after work?
… I sleep. So I actually really struggle with relaxing, just ask Shelby (my girlfriend, the most incredible). I still haven’t played Kingdom Hearts III, the final installment of my favorite series, because everytime I sit down to play I feel guilty that I could be doing something more meaningful. So if you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!
What experiences really stood out to you in your time at SCAD?
Oh man, can I say “everything”? Okay, so, the trip that I took to Hong Kong, with John Webber (Professor of Cool), definitely stands out. That was incredible. Also getting to work with Chris Gallagher (The Epic man himself), John Webber and Thomas Meseguer (Co-worker of Croissants and Culture), also where I met Missy Griffis (or Mage as I call her; Magically Awesome). Being on the fourth floor was surreal! If you’re currently attending SCAD, talk to and LISTEN to your professors! They are busy, yes, but they are also there to help you succeed and they will provide you with incredible insights.
What does the usual day look like for you?
Work is straight-forward and it’s not that fun to talk about because I signed an NDA. All the cool stuff is under wraps until further notice. I leave for work by 8:30, it starts at 10. We have meetings and discussions sporadically throughout the day. I do my job and leave around 7. If traffic is good, I’m home by 8. Two hours of dinner, walking the dog, and trying to catch up on anything I didn’t get to during the weekend, and then I crash out.
What have you learned since working in the industry?
It’s less learning than I expected. I really love the people I’m working with, they are awesome and really knowledgeable. I ask them a million questions and they’ve been incredibly supportive. But most of what I do everyday, I’ve already learned at SCAD. I suppose it’s a good thing, that’s what school is for after all. But I did expect to feel more lost and confused.
How have you adjusted to life in LA?
LA is wack man! On the good side, it’s got so much going on; concerts, restaurants, lecturers, and more. I’m never out of options for a good evening. On the flip side, people attend those things. The traffic is a nightmare almost anytime I leave my apartment. I honestly don’t know if I’m taking a long time to adjust or if everyone just hates the traffic and puts up with it anyways.
Do you have any advice for current students?
Don’t limit yourself to the curriculum. I love what is being taught at SCAD, but that’s a broad scope to fit everyone into it. Create your own projects and see how far you can take them. Team up with friends and classmates to push them further. But above all else; take care of yourself. You don’t need to kill yourself for grade. Your work is important, but you matter the most. At the end of the day, I’m proud of you. You’re doing what you love and following your dreams. Please be proud of that too.
Who do you admire within the Industry?
Anyone who can do this for more than ten years, I tip my cap to you.
Is there anything you miss from your time at SCAD?
I miss my friends. We all went separate ways after graduation; I haven’t seen them in months now. It’s a bit sobering to know that people you care about are thousands of miles away and you might not see them for a long time. Joking around with Webber is also high up on my list.
Thank you Emily for taking the time to have this interview with us! We miss you here at SCAD and we wish you the best of luck in LA!