Woodbury Animation Grad Living the Dream at DreamWorks

It all started with Cinderella…

First exposed to the magic of animation when he was all of the age of three, 2016 Animation graduate Zare Oganesyan was transfixed and, it turns out, transformed by the concept work of Mary Blair, a visual development artist for Disney. “The film’s themes of hope and perseverance have definitely shaped me as a person,” he says.

Fast forward a couple decades and Zare, now immersed in the medium, is currently Production Supervisor on the DreamWorks Animation TV series Spirit: Riding Free, streaming on Netflix. Less than three years out of Woodbury, he’s helping to make the wheels turn, big time.

“With the guidance of my Line Producer, I oversee production on our show, supervising not only the Production Coordinators and Assistants but the entire crew as a whole,” he says. Daily tasks range from scheduling and assigning designs to working with overseas partner studios located in Australia, South Korea, Thailand, and India.

“Production’s the problem-solver, the glue that keeps a show together,” he says. “We’re here to make everyone’s life easier and make sure everyone’s incredible work comes together so there actually is a show for you to watch.”

Although Zare’s rise has been rapid, it wasn’t without detours. His work ethic and his personality made an impression on the folks at DreamWorks but his plans to work on the show he initially signed up for fell through. “A week before I started, I was contacted by the recruiter telling me the show was being pushed back on the schedule,” he recalls. “I was moved onto another project –Spirit: Riding Free — and it’s been a dream working on it ever since. And yes, the pun’s intended.

“I’ve loved animation for as long as I can remember,” he explains. “Being a shy and quiet kid, I turned to cartoons and saw the characters as more than just entertainment, but as friends that I was able to connect with and relate to. I love being able to spread a little bit of happiness, in cartoon-form, around the world.” Which, after all, is a big reason why animators like Zare animate.

During his years at Woodbury, Zare was everywhere. “I tried to be pretty involved in the animation community at Woodbury,” he says, which might be an understatement. “I joined a group of students to animate a short to submit to The Lewis Carroll Competition, took part in the 24-Hour Animation competition, participated in ‘The Boing Heard Around The World’ documentary internship hosted at Woodbury, and worked on a project to animate Woodbury’s logo.” And that’s not all: he served as a TA for freshman Animation classes, worked in the Animation Department’s archive, and with the help of some friends, restarted the Woodbury Animation Club where they organized student and faculty art galleries and ran the department’s booth at CTN.

“You need to work hard to make your dreams happen,” Zare says, again mindful of puns. “No one is going to finish your assignment for you, no one will make you a better artist, and no one will just hand you a job because you went to school for it. You need to roll up your sleeves, figure out what you want, and relentlessly go after it. I did all of those extracurricular activities at Woodbury because I knew it would help me gain the experience for a job in production.”  

For Zare, working in the field of his dreams has been a Cinderella story.

Learn more about the Animation program

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