I was pitching ideas for shows while I was still a student at CalArts. My first job out was on Warner Bros.’ MAD. It ran on Cartoon Network for many seasons and was cool because I got to make my own mini films. Then, I worked at Nickelodeon as a storyboard revisionist on Robot and Monster. I pitched Star to Disney and, eventually, it went into development. It took a year to make the pilot, and when that was done, I took a job on Wander Over Yonder at Disney, a Craig McCracken show. Now, I’m full-time on Star, which is in its second season.
I think the reason so many alumni are running shows, is that all animation students at CalArts have to make their own films every year. Producing a TV show is like making a bunch of mini CalArts films—except that you have a whole team helping you—and you have to make them extremely quickly. But the experience of learning every part of the process is so important. While you’re learning to write and storyboard, you’re also animating, finding actors, getting music, and editing. You graduate with four films, and, of course, your final film is much better than the first. It’s inspiring to be at CalArts. Everyone’s artistic style is different. You’re pretty much living with these people; working in cubicles that are open all night. It’s like being in the trenches with all these wonderful artists with whom you form close relationships. It’s really a special, special place.