“I saw the film and just called them up and arranged it,” said Professor Clyde Downs. He and Professor Michael Yankowski accompanied eight students from the Department of Fine and Graphic Art and two screenwriting students from the Department of Language and Communication’s film concentration.
“Moonbot was fantastic,” Down said. “We had fun and got to sit in their screening room to watch ‘the Fantastic Flying Book of Mr. Morris Lessmore.’”
Courtney Hawkins of Gonzales found the visit enormously inspiring.
“I love animation. I still watch cartoons. It’s amazing to have an animation studio right down the road,” said Hawkins, a fine arts major with a strong interest in comic drawing. “When we toured the studio, we saw the places where the concepts are developed and the ideas come to life on storyboards. That’s like a dream job. I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do with my life.’”
Hawkins had already seen “The Fantastic Flying Book of Mr. Morris Lessmore,” directed by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg and produced at Moonbot, when Downs showed it to his illustration class, but a screening of the film in the studio’s conference room -- outfitted with orange beanbags – was a treat, as was touring the creative work spaces of the artists and writers who work at Moonbot.
“Everybody had toys at their desks,” Hawkins said, describing robots, animals and favorite influences the artists keep nearby, lending a playroom atmosphere to the highly creative and productive environment. She was also impressed with how personable and accessible the artists were in talking with visitors about their work.
“There was also a big library of hundreds of wonderful books for reference,” Downs noted.
Beavan Blocker, an animator at Moonbot, was the group’s tour guide. Downs said the visit may open up the possibility for student internships, not only for artists, but for writers as well. Blocker encouraged the students to submit portfolios for consideration, Downs said.
“We screened some of their upcoming projects,” he added. “We were sworn to secrecy but they are amazing.”
“I’ll be following them religiously to see what projects they release,” said Hawkins, who was left with an even greater desire to try working with animation.
“I’m looking at what I want to do,” she said. “I like illustrating and I’m thinking of playing with animation and at some point in my life, I’m going to make a comic. Those are my three goals: illustration, animation and making a comic.
“It was very informative,” Hawkins said of the tour. “It was beyond a lot of fun.”
For more information on Moonbot Studios, visit Moonbotstudios.com. For more information on Northwestern State’s Department of Fine and Graphic Art, visit art.nsula.edu. For more information on the film concentration in Department of Language and Communication, visit langcomm.nsula.edu/film-concentration.