From India to Woodbury to Netflix: An Animation Student’s Adventurous Journey to Success

Prabhu Rajaganapathy with his mother
Animation alumnus Prabhu Rajaganapathy with his mother

Prabhu Rajaganapathy was born and raised in a small village in southern India. But after he finished high school there, he began to think about making a change. A big change.

“I wanted to see where my creativity could take me,” he said. The first step in that process was for Prabhu, to start applying to colleges and universities in Southern California—where so many creative entities make their home.

He applied to a number of schools in the region and found his fit when accepted to Woodbury. “The moment I was accepted to Woodbury, I knew it was the right place for me,” Prabhu said. “I felt that the smaller classrooms would significantly help me progress through the risky decision of trying something new.”

Prabhu initially chose to study Game Art & Design but after a semester in the program, he felt that it wasn’t quite the right fit for him. “I talked to my teachers, friends, and family and came to the conclusion that animation was a better major for me.”

While adjusting to the culture shock and isolation from friends and family halfway around the globe was a challenge, Prabhu persevered and committed himself to take advantage of as many experiences at Woodbury as possible. To this end, he chose to become a Residence Advisor in student housing. “I wanted to help students feel comfortable and to feel at home,” he said. “I wanted freshmen to feel like we can replicate the feeling of being at home.”

After completing his first year, Prabhu did an internship at El Grupo Animation, under the tutelage of faculty member, Alex Topete. “Alex is an amazing, traditional 2D animator, and I learned as much as I could when it came to the basics of animation,” Prabhu said. “I would not have been as prepared for the rest of my classes at Woodbury without this internship.”

With both his comfort level in the United States and his knowledge and skill as an animator vastly improving, Prabhu excelled at Woodbury. Eventually, he started focusing his energies on his senior thesis project, “Space Epic,” a short, 2D sci-fi animation film. “I took this project seriously and would work day and night throughout my senior year,” he said. His hard work and perseverance paid off once again. In fact, “Space Epic” won Woodbury’s MVP award for outstanding performance, and to date, it has been selected into 15 different film festivals, including the KCET 2019 Fine Cut Competition, Southern California Schools (semifinalist), 8th Seoul Guro International Kids Film Festival – South Korea (semifinalist), and Flickfair Film Festival (finalist). However, Prabhu’s not done with it yet. He intends to pitch “Space Epic” to a studio or network someday.

After graduating in 2019, Prabhu began working as a production assistant at Gaumont Animation and parlayed that experience into a job as a production assistant at Netflix Animation, where he recently started working on an animated series called “Ghee Happy,” created by Pixar alum, Sanjay Patel.

According to Netflix, “Ghee Happy” will reimagine Hindu deities as children who attend a special daycare and discover their own powers while there. “I am very excited to be working on a show with Sanjay Patel that shares a cultural experience with myself,” says Prabhu. “Not only am I able to provide input on the show, but I am able to assist the crew and be a valuable asset to the team.”

Prabhu has an interest in video editing and hopes to transition into the editing side of the animation industry at some point in the future, but for now, he’s thrilled to be involved in the creation of Netflix’s amazing content.

When advising potential animation students, Prabhu says, “Keep working hard and always push yourself beyond your limits when it comes to classwork. Outside of class, learn different software and keep up to date on the latest advances in the animation industry. And last but not the least, always remember, connections go a long way in the entertainment industry. Get to know your classmates as they are your future co-workers.”

Learn more about the Animation program

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