Marcus Burke

Marcus Burke

BA, Animation & Digital Arts '19

Marcus Burke's portfolio site.
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How has the School of Cinematic Arts changed your view of animation? SCA has been showing me that the personal connections you develop with your cohorts, with the faculty, and with other students on campus all effect the quality of your work. How you approach and interact with people determine the type of conversations that will follow. SCA has a theme that promotes constant community and connection with one another, since that is how the real industry works. But more than just the status quo of relation-building is the exposure to new ideas from other people which can then add to the direction of your own creative thought. To date, I have been in SCA for 5 weeks now, and the conversations I’ve had and the people I’ve met have already began to influence the ideas for animated projects that I’d like to do and the type of work I want to research.

What advice do you have for prospective students looking at applying to your program? I am a recent external Fall transfer into the SCA program. One of the key things I focused on, during my time applying to the college, was the essay prompts. I worked diligently on multiple drafts to ensure that my personal story was clear and that it delineated I was a perfect fit for this school. My advice to all other applicants would be to learn how to share the essence of why they want to come to USC and SCA, and no other schools, and how coming here would also benefit the school.

How has the School of Cinematic Arts prepared you so far for a career in animation? At only 5 weeks in the program thus far, the number one thing that’s been promoted here at SCA, as well as USC as a whole, is networking. “Your network is your net worth,” and that has been a slogan that’s become more and more relevant to me with each passing day. This is the start of a career in Hollywood, and because the pace is fast and the work is intimate, people trust in who they know. If you are known for being reliable and for being an effective worker, your reputation is going to carry you above and beyond your resume. If you are known for having a less than a stellar attitude, that’s going to precede you amongst peers and employers. So far, this program is teaching me a bunch about the merit of one’s character and the weight it carries in the film profession.

What have been the biggest challenges for you at USC? Time management, new students hear it a lot. It’s true when people say there are opportunities everywhere. Anything you could possibly want to be involved in is accessible somewhere on campus, and if not, it’s well within the grasp of students to make their dreams a reality. Any clubs, organizations, internships, and/or jobs that you want to get, you can. You soon realize, however, that you time is now your main currency, even more than your money. That’s what happened for me, at any rate. My biggest challenge now is learning how to take on just the right amount of commitment so that I’m involved but not overwhelmed.

What in your past has given you inspiration or a unique point of view that you bring to USC? My educational journey thus far has given me an acute appreciation for USC as a whole. I came from a small art & film school in New York City, where I did my freshman year. Then went back home to Baltimore and did a year at a local community college while applying to get into SCA. Having experienced the fast and demanding lifestyle of NYC when it came to working on film projects or working as a whole in the city, compared to the slow and diligent pace of community college academics in Baltimore County. The two experiences gave me an understanding of how people think and operate based on their environments. Exposure is key when looking at how people think and behave. My exposure to different educational institutes gives me a level of empathy and flexibility when interacting with people from different walks of life, which helped me connect with people much quicker here. 

What personal projects have you worked on and/or are currently working on? Currently I am working on a one-minute animated music video project for a production class I’m taking. Some of my notable past works can be viewed on my portfolio website: