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Daily Inspiration: Meet Angela Entzminger

Today we’d like to introduce you to Angela Entzminger.

Hi Angela, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I love creating stories. As a kid, I grew up in Houston, TX and Ventura, CA and I drew comics and cartoon characters all the time. I made pop up books for class assignments, wrote stories about ants, aliens, monsters, you name it, I wanted to create it. It all started from a love of books, television shows and movies. My family loves movies and we went to the theater all the time. I read every book I could and I must have watched every cartoon on TV, I loved them all.

I remember the first time I realized that animation was a career, I was watching DuckTales, and I saw the credits and thought, “Oh my gosh, those are real people! This is a job that adults have! When I’m an adult, I can have this job!” It was an epiphany that really started me down the path of wanting to create stories as a career.

I switched from focusing on art to journalism in high school and then majored in communications in college. At the time, I wanted to write news stories and work for a book publisher. Flash forward to a few years out of college, and I now lived in New York where I worked first for a business magazine company and later for an educational publisher. But I wasn’t having fun. I realized it was not what I wanted to do at all. Journalism is a fabulous profession but it wasn’t for me.

I realized that I didn’t want to report the news, I wanted to spin yarns, and so I started meeting animation and comic book professionals, going to conventions, attending life drawing classes, and going to ASIFA-EAST and Women in Animation screenings. I had a few friends who left the city to go to LA to work for the major animation studios, and that sounded like a brilliant plan, so I decided I would pursue animation full-time.

But first, I moved to Denver in order to save money and earn money because moving to LA was going to take money and planning! I worked at the Denver Art Museum and a slew of other places before being able to move to California and go to art school. I co-founded the Women in Animation chapter in San Francisco with two friends, and that and my part-time work as a reality TV PA and a PA for Learning Ally helped me get an internship at Pixar as a production intern, which gave me the boost to move to LA and pursue full-time work. A year and a half later after creating The Animated Journey Podcast, working in retail, temp jobs and wondering if this crazy scheme of mine to work in animation would actually happen, I got an opportunity through a friend’s referral to interview for a Production Assistant job at Nickelodeon for The Loud House. And it turned out that all of the experiences from my winding paths I had to take to stay afloat was what got me the job. So no experience is wasted experience – learn as much as you can from every job you get!

I worked my way up on The Loud House from PA to Production Coordinator to Storyboard Revisionist. I also wrote and illustrated comics for The Loud House graphic novels and created illustrations for some of Nickelodeon’s social media teams. And now I’m delving into writing for TV and pitching shows, which is awesome and unbelievable at the same time. Through it all, I’ve met some amazing people, have had the opportunity to mentor high school and college students and learn all about television animation. Eight-year-old me who made all those drawings and wrote those stories would be pretty stoked to see her life now.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Smooth? HA! Absolutely not.

Getting into animation is akin to being a salmon swimming upstream being swatted by bears. There’s so many moving parts to getting a job. First, you have to develop your artistic or production skill set, depending on which direction you choose to go into in the industry. This means taking classes, attending workshops, going to lectures, watching videos, whatever you need to do to learn. And then drawing, drawing, drawing (or writing, or editing, depending on which path you take). That ten thousand hour thing is no joke.

AND THEN, after you have a handle on your craft where your portfolio is at a place where a company may hire you, you have to meet people. This is an industry built on relationships and trust. It’s nearly impossible to get in without getting to know people, which honestly is every industry because working in publishing and IT, two of my previous fields, are the same way. It’s important to get to know people, to make friends and acquaintances, but to do it without sounding like a schmooze-y late night informational or approaching total strangers in the industry and saying “Hey you I need a job look at my portfolio give me work!” It’s tough when you’re starting from scratch. You want to build those relationships, but you also want people to know that you like them for them, not because they’re your ticket to earning enough money to eat more than ramen every night.

And it never really ends because when your show goes on hiatus or gets canceled, or the movie is finished, or everyone gets fired, you get back in the circle of looking for work. And there’s always something about your work that you can improve. Everyone I know, even people who have been in the industry for years, continue to take classes, continue to post on social media, continue to wonder if they are “good enough” and continue to wonder if their next job will be their last. It can take a toll on you, especially if you tie your self-worth to your job, which unfortunately most people do. You are more than your work, you have value as a person, with or without a career in animation. You are more than a hand and a stylus.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Storyboard revisions are all about fixing continuity errors, ensuring that scenes flow smoothly from one scene to the next, and making sure the Directors’, Executive Producers’ and Network’s vision for the episode are being met. Revisions are a great way to prepare you to be a Storyboard Artist because you get to see everyone’s storyboards, how they draw, how they set-up gags and how they time out the action. You work with the Directors, PAs and PCs, Art Director, and the Animatic Editors, so you get an excellent sense of the TV animation pipeline. This will help you if you become a showrunner because you’ll know what everyone’s job is and how to keep the show going on time and within the budget.

Outside of work, I’m known for the podcasts I created, The Animated Journey and the Glitch Techs Rewatch Podcast. It’s important to create personal projects, an idea I learned from Chris Oatley’s podcast, The Visual Storytelling Podcast. Personal projects enable you to create something that you love, and it can lead to freelance and full-time work, which is what happened in my case. Through the podcasts, I’ve made friends and mentors and learned about the wide variety of jobs in the animation industry. Every job enables the shows, games and movies we love to get made. I’m also getting into the writing game, which is great fun. It’s interesting to visualize the story in a different way and to meet other writers and creators.

What sets me apart from most people I meet is my willingness to listen to people and hear and share their stories. I like sharing knowledge and animation tips with people in the industry and those wanting to get into the industry. My background in communications and sales has greatly influenced my animation career. At times the industry is weirdly vague about how to do the job and how to get the job, and the podcasts and organizations I’m a part of enable me to shed light on the mystery that is our field.

What do you like and dislike about the city?
I really like California in general and LA in particular. I’ve traveled all across the United States and LA hands down has the best weather. I don’t like winter. I don’t like shoveling my car out of the snow. I love that it may hit 30 degrees for a week and that’s it, instead of for months like other places. That’s a plus.

I also like the people I’ve met in the animation industry, they are definitely kindred spirits. I like that I can walk down the street and see the mountains, or hop in my car and drive down to the beach in the same day.

Housing costs are absurd. My hope is that zoning laws will change and more affordable housing will be built so that people don’t have to pay a million dollars for a two bedroom house. I watch a lot of Fixer Upper and seeing a giant house in Waco, TX sell for $200,000 versus the little houses out here that cost a ridiculous amount of money makes me wince. But of course every place has its advantages and disadvantages, so I’ll take LA.

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