an american at sheridan


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Posted by Sam Fleming on May 19, 1999 at 12:50:27:

In Reply to: Re: Frightening parallels between CalArts and Sheridan posted by Dave Brewster on May 19, 1999 at 00:49:01:

recently, one of the animators that works with me
went for his 3rd year at sheridan college. he said
that his tuition was $9000canadian. my tuition for
all three terms averaged about $900canadian per year. that's
a pretty big jump in tuition from '84 to '99. and this
is the international summer school program. it was a
wonderful experience for me. there were some great
teachers and some who could have done alot better.
that seems to be the case in almost any learning
environment. our attrition rate was significant as
well. i believe less than half of those that started
the program, for some reason or another, were able
to complete it. on the day our class graduated,we were
dismayed to find out that the people in the administration
office had consumed our 'graduation cake'. they honestly
thought it was for them. all eleven of us managed to get over
it. but it demonstrated; at least to some degree, that
that the administrative side of sheridan didn't entirely
realize what they had. calarts tuition at that time was about
$7500. out of reach for me.


my wife, shari, and i own and operate a studio in austin,
texas called little wolf entertainment. i spent many years
years working on features, tv, and commercial stuff before
returning to my home state. i came back to texas to direct
3 direct to video projects for a company called heart of texas.
i saw this as an opportunity to train people here and to help
establish a healthy animation talent pool here. with the help
of a couple of other classically trained animators, we were able
to get work on some significant projects, namely space jam,
anastasia, and others. at hot we even produced the original
'king of the hill' test pilot that got that particular series
going. the producer that contracted us to do that project
assured us that there would be 'millions' if it got picked up.
it did but alas!...the production went an already established
studio in hollywood. that was a hard lesson in making sure that
a contract is fully spelled out before producing the work.
actually, that wasn't the style or level of animation that we
were pursuing, so it was somewhat of a relief. but many people
would have been grateful for the opportunity.

although i've had a few offers to return to LA, my preference
is to remain here in texas. the slow times have had an impact
on our livlihood too. but after almost 20 years in the industry,
i've gotten accustomed to the 'lulls'. it's never any fun.
i'd always rather be working, but as others on this site have
expressed, i use the 'down' time as productively as possible.

we have a series we will be pitching soon. no guns, no violence
(other than water balloons, pillows, or sarcasm). maybe it'll
get picked up. maybe not. but you have to try.
...and keep trying.

i've been reading this site for a while. i especially appreciate
some of dave brewster's comments and words of encouragement to
others. it's very sound advice. dave once said to me...(as best
as i can remember the quote) "you know sam, you are as good as you
are...wherever you are!" and he was...and is...exactly right.
this was in reference to me wanting to go and work freelance from
new mexico. i ended up back in texas instead.

we recently bid on a job for the ft. worth zoo. it's an environmental
exhibit that features native species of texas, etc. aimed at a young
audience. our reel was very well recieved. we were asked to do some
conceptual design work which was again, well received. in the end,
however, the job, which was significant for a small studio (6 minutes
of full animation). went to a studio in canada. this hurt. but man,
the canadians have been training their people in this field for a long
time. i'm sure that the tax breaks were a contributing factor. my
hat's off to the guys who were awarded the project. i'm sure
it'll be beautiful.

sometimes, like now, work is sparce. but since my return back in 1993,
we have done work for almost every major studio in LA, some
big projects, some small. and if it gets way too slow, i'm
really good at hanging wallpaper, drywall, and paining houses.
that's how i earned my tuition for sheridan in the first place.

the only drawback about being here in texas is that "it
shore gets dern hot in the summertime!" dang it!
ya'll hang in there! thanks again to the bold animators
who are willing to speak their mind.


sam fleming






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