Fabian Corona started off as an intern at Nickelodeon Animation Studios before becoming a Storyboard Revisionist on Wallykazam. His journey into animation begins at the University of Arizona as a Visual Communication major. After meeting a Nickelodeon recruiter at the first CTN, a year later Fabian got offered an internship at Nickelodeon.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Fabian Corona and I’m a storyboard revisionist at Nickelodeon.
What college did you attend and what was your major? Do you think this helped you with your pursuit in the entertainment industry?
I attended the University Of Arizona (UofA) and studied Visual Communications (Illustration/Graphic Design). Personally, I believe my education helped in my pursuit of a career in animation. However, being in the industry, I realized it is not a necessity. A drive to be a better artist is definitely required and even more so, the ability to grow from it.
When did you know you wanted to be in the entertainment/animation industry and what events led you to choose it?
I’ve always loved cartoons and would constantly be drawing them. This always felt more like a pastime than a possible career. There aren’t many animators in Tucson, AZ so the names on credits didn’t really materialize themselves as “real” people in my mind. It wasn’t until college that I realized I could follow this dream and turn it into a goal instead.
Has anyone/anything inspired you to follow your passion for entertainment/animation? What/who?
I’m always reading animation news and history, needless to say, I love animation immensely. There are plenty of inspiring stories out there but the ones that really get me are those of artists coming together and creating something new. This goes as far back as Stephen Bosustow gathering artists from the Disney Strike in 1941 to form the UPA studio to last week’s announcement of former DreamWorks Animators forming the Nimble Collective. I guess its stories where the little guy comes out on top that really inspire me.
How did you land the Internship at Nickelodeon Animation Studio? What did you do?
I got an internship at Nick a year after the first CTN. I met the Nickelodeon recruiter at the time, during a panel and exchanged info. I applied and didn’t hear back after an initial interview for their spring semester. Then 4 months later got the call to be in their summer semester.
How was the application and interview process like?
The application process at Nick was easy, the interview process however, was excruciating. I hate waiting and after my initial interview they said I’d hear back in a weeks time. 4 months later, I get another interview with the same promise. I was skeptical at this point, but heard back the very next day!
What do you think set your application apart from others?
To be honest the only thing that set my application apart was that I speak Spanish. Nick was looking to fill an intern spot in the mailroom and needed a Spanish speaker to be able to communicate with the employees.
Any advice to students applying to the Nickelodeon internship program?
My advice to people applying for the Nick Internship is to keep trying and not to be picky with their department. The point of the internship is to show you’re a hard worker and to network.
Any advice to students who just got accepted into the internship program that you wish you had known?
If you got an internship at Nick, my advice would be to be a decent person. I’ve seen plenty of people come in with no trace of humanity. It shows and people will take note of it.
How was the internship experience overall?
My internship was great. I had a good group of peers and love the connections I made with certain people at the studio.
You were a Driver for a little while after your internship. What is the role of a Driver?
The role of a Driver is just that, to drive packages from and to other studios. It’s basically an extension of working in the mailroom.
How did you make that transition from an intern, to a full time employee?
Luck to be honest. I was hired because they liked my work ethic of course, but I was first in the mailroom due to an employee extended vacation. Nick needed extra help and liked me enough to keep me after the internship.
I know a lot of artist want to get their foot in the door, but the Production route tends to be the most promising way. How difficult is it switching from production side of things to the artist side of things?
Switching from Production to Artist work was hard in my case. I’ve seen others do it fairly quickly, but it took me 4 years to do it. I think the biggest obstacle for all of us was getting people to see us as artists and not a P.A. or Coordinator. It’s like when you’re looking for your first serving job but no one will take you without experience. But if no one takes a chance on you, how can you ever get that experience? That’s just it, you have to be good, but more than anything, someone has to be willing to take a chance on you.
You became a Coordinator for Nickelodeon Animated Shorts Program. How was working with the Animated Shorts Program?
Working in development on the shorts program was amazing! I loved helping all the different artists bring their stories to life. It was really one of the best jobs but also one of the most involved. I literally lived and breathed for the shorts...
Any advice to those applying to the Shorts program?
If you’re applying for the shorts program I have tons of advice; I’m actually working on a little comic detailing just that. But the quick answer is to know who you’re pitching to and make sure your characters drive the story, not vice versa.
How did you transition from Nickelodeon Shorts Animation Coordinator to becoming a Storyboard Revisionist on Wallykazam?
The whole time I was at Nick, I would be taking character design tests and not getting anything. I loved my job on the shorts, but was physically and mentally exhausted. So I decided to try other tests. I did the WallyKazam! story test and got offered a revisionist position.
As a Storyboard Revisionist, what does your daily tasks consist of?
Storyboard Revisionist work can be something as minimal as changing the opacity of a BG in a shot to completely re-staging and boarding a sequence. There have been times where we’re practically animating a character. So the job definitely fluctuates.
Is there a test you have to take? What can someone expect from it? How difficult is it?
You’re requested to test for all artists’ positions. The tests are different and really cater to the shows aesthetic/tone. With that said, difficulty ranges and depends on your comfort level with the work. So study that show really well before taking a test!
Any advice for someone interested in pursuing storyboarding in animation?
My advice to anyone pursuing a career in storyboarding is to DRAW EVERY DAY! And not just characters, tell a story. They always say this in figure drawing classes, but it is truly essential. I still struggle with this daily.
How would you describe the culture at Nickelodeon?
Ever changing. People constantly come and go, and new people come with new attitudes and ideas. I’ve seen the studio go through 3 different power shifts and each one really re-shaped its workers.
Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
That’s a loaded question. I just hope to be on a show that I really believe in artistically. More importantly to be able to grow from it, I feel like the eternal student, I love taking classes and learning from my co-workers. So if I keep growing, I’ll be content.
What is your dream project?
My dream project would be to make my own short or show. I love making characters and would love to build a world from them.
What has been your proudest moment thus far?
My proudest moment thus far has been being able to tell when a job won’t make me happy and letting it go. I think a lot of people in this industry sacrifice family/personal lives for work. I don’t want to become that. Work is great, but that won’t keep me happy.
Best advice you can give your past self knowing what you know now?
The best advice I could give my past self is to keep moving forward. To not only listen but also really try to understand others and avoid being passive. Act!
Favorite animated film and/or TV show?
Aah! There’s too many...But I guess it’s between two Bob Clampett cartoons: “Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs” or “The Great Piggy Bank Robbery”
Any work you would like to share?