BA in Animation and Digital Arts '23
Please state your name, major, and year of graduation.
I’m Mariel Jones, I’m in Digital Arts and Animation, and I graduate in 2023.
Why did you want to study animation?
Like so many others, I’ve always loved animated movies and I’ve always loved drawing so animation seemed like a good fit for me. There are also so many aspects of working in animation that I’m drawn to like working on a creative team, moving from project to project, and just the fact that it’ll be my actual job to develop my artistic skills. Animation honestly seemed like the only thing I could imagine doing for the rest of my life without getting tired of it.
How do you think SCA will prepare you for the career you want to have?
I think just being in an environment where I’m surrounded by other aspiring animators, artists, and filmmakers and where I have access to experienced faculty members has already prepared me a lot. I’ve also had so many opportunities to learn from people who are already in the animation industry. I’ve especially felt lucky to have connected with some recent alums who are just a few steps farther in their careers which makes starting my own career seem so much more attainable.
What have been your greatest successes and challenges at school so far?
I’ll start with my challenges. I’m pretty quiet and introverted by nature so it was really difficult for me to make connections and create a space for myself when I first got to USC. I also felt very homesick for my small town, my family, and my childhood friends which made adjusting even harder. On top of that, I felt like an impostor since I didn’t actually have much experience with animation before going to USC and I was always afraid I was doing things wrong. In light of that, I think my biggest success was carving out a space for myself. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone by working on several thesis projects each year and I learned a lot from each one. I made an effort to be more friendly and involved with other animation students which has been a lot of fun. I also joined the InBetweens animation club my freshman year and recently became the president which has been such a learning experience.
What projects have you worked on that you’re proud of?
I’ve actually worked on several thesis projects that I’m proud to have been a part of, but I think the one that I’m most proud of working on was Greg Garay’s “Izzy’s Demons.” I worked as an inbetweener on “Izzy’s Demons” my freshman year and I was faced with a big learning curve because it was my first experience working on an animated short film. That year I learned a lot about in-betweening, the animation pipeline, as well as what it looks like to create a healthy team environment. I actually recently googled my own name because I’m preparing to apply for internships and I was super excited to see that I have my own IMDb page from working on “Izzy’s Demons”!
Explain the InBetweens. Why did you choose to join and how would you describe your experience with it?
The InBetweens began as a way to bridge the gap between students and faculty as well as bring in guest speakers to enhance our education and get a glimpse into the greater animation community. I joined on a bit of a whim my freshman year because I wanted to be more involved in the animation community at USC. I think my favorite parts of being an InBetween member have been making connections with and learning from members who are in different years as well as having the power to help improve the educational experience for the animation students at USC.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying to SCA?
From what I can tell, all of my animation classmates got into USC because of their own unique voices and aesthetics so this is really cliche but just be yourself. Focus on the things you enjoy, creating, and the stories and messages that are important to you. But also, try to level up! Study artists or filmmakers you admire and develop your artistic and technical skills. Developing those skills will only help you in the long run.