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Animation Department Chair Spearheads National Effort to Fund Scholarships

Through ASIFA Hollywood, Dori Littell-Herrick Plants the Seeds for Future Grants

For animation students who have the will, there is now a way.

Talented sophomores, juniors and seniors embarking on animation studies – en route to a career in the field — can look to new support from the industry’s largest professional organization. ASIFA Hollywood, a 3,000-member chapter of ASIFA International, has begun to channel a stream of dedicated scholarship funds to animation students regionally and nationally.

Among those spearheading the effort is Dori Littell-Herrick, chair of Woodbury University’s Animation Department, whose own credits include television shows, television commercials and motion pictures. ASIFA-Hollywood is a non-profit organization established some 35 years ago to promote and encourage the art and craft of animation.   She serves on the board of ASIFA Hollywood and is a longtime member of the Animation Educators Forum.

Responding to the dearth of scholarship money earmarked for animation students, the ASIFA-Hollywood board worked with the Animation Educators Forum to establish the scholarship fund. The group had been instrumental in organizing a student film festival, and in adding student film awards to the Annies, which recognizes the year’s best animated productions and outstanding individual achievements in the field of animation. The organization’s coffers included $10,000 for scholarships but no mechanism for disbursing the funds. Earlier this year, the board voted to make scholarships an annual line item and set in motion an application process.

Mid-June marked the deadline for the first crop of grant requests, which will be made from an initial pool of $30,000. According to Littell-Herrick, ASIFA is expected to award scholarships to 6-10 students, drawn from roughly 40 academic programs from around the U.S. , Canada, Australia, and Europe, and from submissions by 183 applicants. Applicants were asked to send in a short personal biography explaining why they have chosen to work in animation and why the medium important to them, accompanied by samples of designs or a short reel.

“We want to keep students in school, and to support them in a substantial way, with hardware, software, other digital supplies, graduation projects –whatever they need,” Littell-Herrick said. “Many of us evaluating the applications had the same dreams these students have. The animation community is global now, and while some students apply for training programs at the larger studios, which do provide some support, the need overall is large and growing larger.” All scholarship award winners will receive a one-year associate membership to ASIFA-Hollywood.

Woodbury University’s Animation program resides within the School of Media, Culture and Design (MCD), with coursework addressing hand-drawn and digital 2D animation, 3D computer animation and stop motion animation. Animation students have a new opportunity for transdisciplinary studies within MCD, working alongside cohorts in the Media Technology, Film and Game Art & Design departments.

Woodbury ’s Animation Department and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation degree program recently ranked No. 14 among the Top 25 Animation Schools in the West and No. 45 among the Top 100 Animation Schools in the nation by Animation Career Review, an online resource for people who aspire to a career in animation; game design, development and art; graphic design; digital art; and related fields. Woodbury placed 31st among private schools and colleges nationwide.  [The publication’s Top 25 review of Woodbury’s animation program can be found here: http://bit.ly/1B9XbwI]. And in one more vote of confidence, Animation Magazine (animationmagazine.net) named Woodbury’s Animation program to its list of the “Top 25 Schools You Should Hire From.”