In our last episode, Tim heard about Sunbow Entertainment’s summer internship!
New York still intimidated me when I visited, but I had been there several times recently, and part of the culture at RISD was that You Went To New York. I don’t necessarily mean professionally after graduation, but at some point you would visit because that’s the center of the art world, and it’s only 3 hours away, and the inertia began with the Freshman Foundation bus trip there a year prior. Every freshman goes there for a day. And I’d visit Nick there (Hi, Nick), friend and now G.I. Joe book editor, each year for his birthday. (And have ever since.) So being in the Big City was a little scary: it’s dirty, it has a reputation for crime, and if goes on forever — sidewalks horizontally, buildings vertically. But it had some appeal as well. Though I’ve always taken art and history museums for granted, even then I knew New York was THE PLACE for that. And though I wasn’t yet thinking about life after college, I must have had some abstract notion of going to New York or Los Angeles when the time came. Before Flash and the internet decentralized the animation production process, those were the two cities where you’d go if you wanted a job in the industry. (Not entirely true, but I didn’t know anything as a college sophomore.)
I got a number for Sunbow from Dee or Mystery Person, and in the late fall or early winter of sophomore year, called. I should take a moment here to point out that this very act is a nerve wracking one. I don’t know what everyone’s relationships to telephones are anymore since cell phones are also HD video cameras and internet hubs in your pocket, and famous people are easy to find through e-mail and Facebook. But before I was using these much, there was the paper letter and the cold call. And telephoning an office filled with busy and important people, people who can easily say “No” and hang up on you in the fulfillment of a filmic cliché, was intimidating. Plus it was long distance (*sigh,* I’m dating myself), so each attempt would cost ten cents or something. Again, paying a dime for a call isn’t a big deal by itself, but it adds to the heaviness of the act.
I had been good at public speaking (thank you, grade school), and had made a few important phone calls before, so this was doable. Randy Koshinskie, #2 in the Production department took the call. Randy was warm and kind (Hi, Randy), and while I didn’t know it at the time, in 8 months he’d be my boss.
The trick was to get in and out quickly. Introduction, say something nice about the company, or at least prove I knew something about it, express an interest, and then shut up. So it probably went something like this:
“Hi, my name is Tim Finn. I’m an animation sophomore at the Rhode Island School of Design. Dee Boyd or Someone interned with you last summer and gave me this number. I’m looking for internships this coming summer and would be interested if you have any available.”
Without nerding out or sucking up I demonstrated some knowledge of Sunbow’s library, and that I was a big fan of Sunbow’s Transformers and G.I. Joe cartoons. Randy seemed pleased with that, but in telling me a little about the company explained that Sunbow was very different than it had been in 1985, now making only a few shows and recently focusing on educational programming. He asked if I had a portfolio. I did. At that point it consisted of a few figure drawings, some zoo animation drawings, a background or two, and a VHS (or U-Matic!) tape of my three Animation I projects. (One of which depicted the Autobot Tracks transforming from Corvette mode to a robot and rescuing me from being lost in the barren wasteland of Washington state. Which is either the cutest portfolio piece ever for a Sunbow internship application, or the most embarrassing.) Also, the then-newest issue of Nick’s and my hilarious and now slightly embarrassing Transformers parody comic book. My timeline is fuzzy, but I think this was before Christmas and Randy said I should call back in a few months when the Production department would start working out its summer internships.
Did Tim make that fateful call? Tune in next time to find out!