Franklin Okike

Franklin Okike

MFA, Animation & Digital Arts '17

John C. Hench Division of Animation & Digital Arts
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How has the School of Cinematic Arts changed your view of your discipline in animation? I came into the School of Cinematic Arts with the notion that I knew everything—or knew enough to get that dream job. But to my pleasant surprise, I was mistaken. The School of Cinematic Arts has, and still is, teaching me a lot of new things that continue to broaden my horizon. For instance, before coming to the School of Cinematic Arts, I believed animated features were solely designed by one person. It blew my mind to discover that a character, in a scene that has several shots, has input from multiple animators to achieve the fantastic animation. Yet, the animated character still looks like it was designed by one animator.

What advice do you have for prospective students looking at applying to your program? This is a world where reality as you know it ends and your imagination, voice, vision, and dreams become a reality. Yes, it’s always important to have a plan anywhere you go. But I will advise you to not be too rigid in your plans—give room for the wonderful surprises this program will bring you! Be more like a sponge: you already have a defined shape—these are your plans, perceived notions and goals’—but allow yourself to be absorbent. Be open to new ideas, point of views, advice from colleagues and access the extremely talented faculty members. What happens then is you become a retainer of knowledge, experiences, new ideas, motivation, creativity, storytelling, composition, lighting, animating, technical tools, software and packages, networking—the list goes on. After, when you get into the industry, you will be able to approach your projects by squeezing out the absorbed knowledge juices, thereby transcending unto greater heights.

It is important to love your chosen path in this field. When you love what you do, there is no limit to what you will achieve. Do not see assignments, projects, or course work as “just any time consuming burden,” because they are assigned by extremely talented faculty members for a collective reason: to prepare you for the outside world. Moreover, learn to respect your peers, even if you disagree with their views. One of the beauties of our versatility is the ability to function as a unit. After all, iron sharpens iron.

How has the School of Cinematic Arts prepared you so far for a career in your discipline? Of all the great skillsets that the School of Cinematic Arts has equipped me with for my future career, networking is one of the most important. During my journey at the School of Cinematic Arts, I have realized that the animation industry is small and the way I relate with my fellow colleagues and members of the faculty is very important. Personally, I treat people with utmost respect and I strongly believe people should treat one another the way they will like to be treated.  Appreciatively, this trait has attracted a substantial amount of awe-inspiring opportunities, this includes the nomination by one of my mentors to participate in SCA's Student Stories.

What have been the biggest challenges for you at USC? My biggest challenge was being confident when expressing myself. I had little to no interaction with people because I had designed a monotonous regimen for myself: wake up, go to school, then return home. Appreciatively, the School of Cinematic Arts provided interactive classes and seminars which not only forced me out of my comfort zone but also encouraged me to take risks, learn from my mistakes, and improve myself. A valuable fact about the School of Cinematic Arts is you are never alone! You become a part of this huge family where faculty members make it a point to create a one-on-one working relationship with you. In my opinion, it is home away from home! Plus, come on, we get to meet and socialize with iconic figures that either paved the way in the golden age or those currently paving the way for us future artists to tread on.

What in your past has given you inspiration or a unique point of view that you bring to USC? Well, mine is not more of an inspiration but a divine opportunity and blessing. I thank the LORD for blessing me with unique parents that are willing to support my dreams and vision regardless. Coming from a Nigerian background, your typical professional expectation from people is you either be an engineer, lawyer, or be in the Medical field.

I know anything and everything is possible when you believe in yourself, and with the firm support of the School of Cinematic Arts, the sky is just my starter pack.