I was video chatting with my Mom about how I started in animation when she told me that I should mention in my blog my brief encounter with Burbank Animation. No, it’s got nothing to do with any animation studio in Burbank, California. In fact, it’s not even in the U.S. at all. She was referring to the one established in the Philippines sometime in 1983, probably one of the earliest pioneering animation studio in my home country.
I was still in my second year of College, pretty innocent and clueless about anything in the real world when my sister told me she has a friend who works in an animation studio based in Makati City, the Philippines. It was a company called Burbank Animation, and her friend told her they were looking for artists to teach how to do cartoon animation. After my initial shock that an animation studio exists here in the country, my eagerness to try out led me to pestering my mom, who at that time was working in one of the offices in Makati, to accompany me to Burbank Animation so I can apply for the job. As I said before, I was pretty clueless and ignorant; I don’t even know how to get to Makati, what more navigate the city’s complex buildings and one-way streets. Even before she could say that, yes, she can steal some valuable company time off work to be my escort, I was already day dreaming of how I impressed the bosses of Burbank with my drawing skills, how I was hired on the spot and how I would spend my first pay check.
Now I was pretty cocky back then. I thought I draw great. In fact, I was so confident (and ignorant) that I did not even thought of bringing a portfolio of my work with me. I did not even knew what a portfolio was!
And so the next day, with my Mom in tow and leading the way, we arrived at Burbank. I was dressed in my school uniform because I had to go to class in the afternoon. My sister’s friend met us at the front desk and after I filled in an application form (leaving several lines blank since I have no idea how to fill it in), she led me inside to one of several cubicles so I can take a drawing test.
I thought it would be easy. It was not, especially for an applicant who suddenly lost confidence in his drawing skills and started to sweat profusely and suddenly suffering from a severe state of mental block. The test required me to draw three characters in various positions and angles and point of views. Now back then I don’t even knew how to draw figures using construction lines. My style of drawing was straight on, no rough sketches, images from my mind drawn directly on paper with the pencil’s tip never leaving the surface. If not for the examiner’s suggestion, I wouldn’t have used construction lines in the first place!
The test was supposed to last an hour. Since I thought I had special privileges (or so I thought, knowing that the examiner was my sister’s friend), I asked if I can bring home my test with me so I can continue them at my leisure. I had to go to school. My sister’s friend agreed, but I could swear there was a hint of amusement in her face that I initially thought was admiration and respect.
It took me two weeks and a half before I was able to ask my Mom to bring my finished work back to Burbank. I even had to ask her to go there much earlier to ask for more paper since I had been crumpling the ones I took home in frustration. It was supposed to be an easy task, this drawing thing. How difficult could it be to draw a man in bird’s eye view, in 3/4 top view, in other views?
After a month of waiting for that eventual phone call, I had to ask my sister to personally call her friend to ask what was up with the delay. The news was very discouraging, as if I did not know already. I did not qualify because of the fact that I had my mother with me when I came over, plus it took me ages to complete my test.
Looking back now, I deserved not to be selected. If I were the examiner, I would not have hired myself. Obviously, I was too immature and perhaps it was noticeable that I still had snot coming out of my nose.