Monday, January 19, 2009

We're 11 Years Old Today !

It's the anniversary of The Animation Academy!

Here's the story of how we got started...

I was a part time instructor and head of the Animation Department at a school in Sherman Oaks, California known as Associates In Art, which is no longer in business today. A series of circumstances lead me away from Associates and I found myself helping someone else set up a new school at their request. This didn't work out, and by December, 1997, while hanging at the Coral Cafe in Burbank and talking with my friend John, the owner of the restaurant, he asked how things were progressing with this venture.

I said they weren't. Then he suggested that I start my own school in the back room of his restaurant. It could seat 20 people, I could book it in advance on one evening per week, and if this new endeavor didn't work, I owed him nothing.

We tried to think of a name for the school. After some frustration coming up with an idea, I made up my mind to give it the simplest name I could think of, The Animation Academy.

I had a mailing list (snail mail) of about 35 names of former students and friends that I used for sending Christmas cards. On my little 486 computer I came up with an unpretencious announcement of a new school starting up in Burbank. On the front page I posed the challenge, "Are you ready to kick some ass?" I spent approximately $15 on stamps and envelopes, mailed the announcement to 35 people, and waited to see what would happen.

John and I thought we would get between 5 and 10 responses. He suggested that if I got as few as 5, to go ahead with it anyway. By the day of the first class, I had sold all 20 seats.

With an investment of $15, I had raised over $5000 and we were on our way. I had an independent economy established in animation, and students had an alternative school they could come to that was affordable, oriented on fundamentals, and wouldn't saddle them with a debt that would take the rest of their lives to pay off.

Eleven years later, I look back at the trail of students we've had since that time and am amazed and thrilled at the success of a great many of them. More than I can keep track of. The Animation Academy in Burbank has changed the lives of many people and has helped change the industry.

Thank you to our students, staff, friends and colleagues on this special day.

Keep Creating, and keep banging the drum!

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