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Meet Casey Follen and Alexis Deprey of Animation Wild Card in Burbank/North Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Casey Follen and Alexis Deprey.

Casey and Alexis, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Animation Wild Card grew out of quarantine. Our founders primarily work in a niche of animation called stop motion animation (which requires physical space, sets, and puppets), and our corner of the industry was essentially shut down. Our friends and creative partners were out of work with no end in sight, and we started to think about what we could do for our community.

Not only had we all lost the structure of a studio environment, but we were also separated from our supportive creative community. We came up with the idea to create an animation challenge and recruit friends and colleagues in the animation industry to participate. We set out to compile a light-hearted collection of animated short-shorts and curate them into episodes streamed online. Not only would this opportunity allow us to strengthen our skills, it would also provide some stability. Every contributor would leave quarantine with a portfolio of independent work that they created independently, at home, with only the resources they had on hand.

Our community of animators continued to grow as the months went on, and we found ourselves making more episodes and growing our vision for Animation Wild Card beyond quarantine. We’ve found that supporting independent animators through AWC has created a space with the potential to change the animation industry for the better. We’re proud that we’ve prioritized gender parity in AWC, but there is more work to be done. We want our community to grow and truly reflect the world we live in, and it’s not enough to fight only for gender diversity and equality. There’s work to be done for racial equity and an abundant need to share these stories.

The future of AWC is ripe with opportunity, and this community space for animators may just be the incubator needed to create change in the animation industry. Although sectors of the entertainment industry are slowly going back to work, AWC has built a safe space for animation artists to gather and further their craftsmanship. Animation Wild Card has now released eight episodes and has featured animators from all over the world.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
One of our challenges as organizers was navigating the ups and downs of making art in a Covid-19 environment. Everything from needing to be resourceful with only the animation supplies we had on hand and navigating the emotional roller coaster quarantine was a struggle. We set submission dates to give creators some structure, knowing that the shutdown situation was fluid and that life circumstances might keep some of the contributors from submitting on time or at all—and that was totally okay. When a few people weren’t able to finish their short films on time for the first episode but were still interested in submitting, we realized we really were making more episodes! It was a blessing in disguise, really.

Please tell us about Animation Wild Card.
Today, we are a collection of animation artists coming together to bring some joy to the masses! We are compiling a light-hearted collection of our short-shorts into episodes while also strengthening the connection and collaboration of our animation community. We mostly share our episodes on YouTube and highlight our creators and their work on Instagram.

Animation Wild Card provides a platform to amplify the unique artistic voices in our industry and gives momentum and exposure to a new wave of rising directors. We were really excited to be involved with a project that showcases the breadth and variety of both our medium and our artists and could broaden the scope of what people think animation can achieve.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Does a pandemic count as “bad luck”? Without the shut down in Los Angeles, AWC would likely have never gotten off the ground. Our organizers had been bouncing around ideas for a while before we all were forced to take some time to really evaluate what we wanted to do. There are plenty of really dark and terrible things brought about or exposed by the pandemic, but it’s important to also have gratitude for silver linings.

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Image Credit:
AnimationWildCard, ThreadwoodLLC, ApartmentD

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