Devon Manney

Devon Manney

BA, Animation & Digital Arts '17

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How has the School of Cinematic Arts changed your view of animation? SCA has given me a much greater insight into not only the extensive history of animation and cinema, but also, into the artistic possibilities of the medium. Within the animation department, we learn about and apply both mainstream and experimental techniques, which I believe is incredibly important to our development as artists. Animation is a limitless art form –– it makes the impossible seem possible, and allows you to create stories in ways you simply couldn’t in live-action cinema or theatrical productions. In learning about how others have utilized the form, and experimenting with animation as both entertainment and fine art, we’re much more suited to create whatever our lofty imaginations can envision. 

What advice do you have for prospective students looking at applying to your program? I would tell them to lay everything on the line when they apply. Be true to yourself and your artistry –– I see so many people who attend and want to attend USC just because our film school is one of the best in the world. Then if they get in, they often don’t apply themselves and just expect success to happen once they obtain their degree. Don’t be one of them –– explore all the schools that are out there and find which one will help you reach your artistic aspirations. And know that no matter what happens in the admissions process, as long as you're honest about who you are as a person, a student, and an artist, and keep striving to reach your goals, you will succeed. 

How has the School of Cinematic Arts prepared you so far for a career in animation? So far, it’s prepared me best in instilling me with an all-encompassing knowledge of the animated form, as well as a confidence in my own ability. Thanks to just one year within DADA and SCA, I feel more confident than ever that once I graduate, I’ll have an incredible artistic flexibility that allows me to travel into whatever career path I want, not to mention connections to a whole bunch of other artists and filmmakers that I can collaborate and converse with throughout my lifetime.

What have been the biggest challenges for you at USC? One of the biggest challenges was in stepping out of my own artistic comfort zone. I realized early on through looking at some of my classmates’ work that I still had a lot of learning to do, and as a result, I started drawing and sketching much more frequently, and experimenting with many different styles. As a result, I think I’ve noticed a large improvement between recent drawings and drawings made even six months ago, and I’m excited to see where I’ll be in another six months. And that’s just one example of many; it’s easy to come into SCA feeling that you were one of the more artistic people from your high school, and that everything you create is golden and pure, but if you allow your ego to be deflated and just focus on learning and absorbing all that you can, you’re going to be so much better off. 

What in your past has given you inspiration or a unique point of view that you bring to USC? I come from a somewhat theatrical background. Throughout my high school years, I was constantly acting in plays, musicals, and in competitive speech, and I think having a background in performance has a really big effect on the way I animate, the way I write, and even just the way I imagine. Through acting, you learn to understand the way different peoples’ bodies move, the way others talk, and most importantly, you learn how to form your own experiences, emotions, and such into the backbone of a completely new character. In animation, you’re doing a lot of the same things, but where as in acting, you’re using your own body as the instrument of transformation and experimentation, in animation, you’re often manipulating an instrument such as a pencil or a puppet or even another human, and at a frame-by-frame pace instead of in real time. Both take an incredible amount of skill, precision, and focus to perfect, and I am determined to keep learning to improve my abilities in both areas in the years to come. And I must say that for me, USC is the perfect place to do just that.