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Meet Marisa Tontaveetong and Start Networking with ASIFA-South This Spring

If you’re an animator or digital artist looking to network in the fast-paced and changing field of animation, you’ve got to meet Marisa Tontaveetong.  You will not be sorry you did.  This girl is a driven force to be reckoned with a ton of insider access to the world of animation and she lives right here in Atlanta!  She is the leader of ASIFA-South, a network of animators and creative people in the southeastern US, like Georgia and Florida, and perhaps one of the smartest groups to get connected to in Atlanta.  Marisa will introduce you to like a thousand people and tell you what you need to hear, all over waffles and coffee.  I originally met Marisa at a creative business networking event last summer where a, one of the five that ASIFA-South arranged to both support and connect artists around Atlanta.  No one left without giving or getting the business card of at least five others and a ton of info on how to legally pull your work together and not be taken advantage of.  As the spear header of ASIFA-South, Marisa has developed connections with many in the area and has partnered with a few to develop a network map for creatives in the area.  You’ve got to get hooked up with this group and Marisa will show you how.  Recently, I got to get the specs on what it looks like to join and it’s pretty simple! Read about ASIFA-South and Marisa below; then, do yourself a favor and head to their mixers and get connected.  

Her Campus SCAD ATL:  When did you attend SCAD, what did you study and where are you from originally?

Marisa Tontaveetong: 2012 Animation MFA, from Bangkok, Thailand

HCSCADATL: What does ASIFA-South stand for?

MT: Association Internationale du Film d’Animation, or ASIFA, was started in France in 1960 as a membership organization for animation artists and now has 50 chapters around the world. ASIFA-Atlanta, started in 1995 and the only chapter in the South, offers animation screenings and educational programs year-round.

HCSCADATL: What is the mission and reach of ASIFA-South?

MT: Reach: South US, headquarter: Atlanta

Mission:

ARTIST VISIBILITY & GLOBAL COMMUNITY

We aim to put the spotlight on our artist and animators locally and globally. Our signature event ASIFA-South RYO Animation Festival has been running for 14 years. With local panels involving professional local as well as a monthly online panel with professionals in the industry around the world from Canada to the West Coast to Asia, we seek to provide our members and local community with the latest update of know-how. We have also actively participated in the annual ASIFA International Animation Day where we exchange animations with our participating ASIFA partners from over 50 chapters all over the world including Australia, Portland, Austria, Thailand and more. We also aim to help animators connect with animators from other chapters, no matter where they might decide they want to move to next.

SUPPORT OF STEAM EDUCATION

Focused on putting the spotlight on artists and animations in Atlanta exposure, in partnership with the Atlanta Film Festival, there is a big emphasis on public screening of films made by locals along with current plans to partner up with other film festivals in the southeastern region. ASIFA-Atlanta also has a closed directory of animators in Atlanta and nearby regions that they offer to animation studios.

ENTREPRENEUR FOR ARTISTS

Starting 2015, ASIFA-Atlanta has also engaged in a number of children animation workshop under the Atlanta Film Festival New Mavericks Film Series as well as school visitations for animation screening and workshops. Workshops that are coming in the year 2016 also have a high focus on business education for artists and animation, including events engaging entertainment lawyers to hilight the importance of contract, copyright and art-business related knowledge. ASIFA-Atlanta also aims to reach out to other festivals, organization, and schools in the Southeast to encourage the spreading of education and festival screening to beyond the Atlanta region.

PROMOTION OF DIVERSITY & INCLUSION

As animation is a field that is only limited by the imagination, we strive to encourage the inclusion of diversity in storytelling whether it be to support minority groups. We also promote disability awareness to enhance storytelling that is accurate and based on education with activities such as American Sign Language mini classes before our mixer events.

HCSCADATL: What kinds of opportunities are connected to this networking group and why should SCAD students join?

MT: Volunteer, monthly mixer, exclusive members-only newsletter with partner event discount codes and online panels. But mostly joining to help support our artist and creative community.

HCSCADATL: What are some ways that SCAD students can get involved with you guys?

MT: Volunteers for our upcoming conference in August/ Come meet us at our monthly mixer at Land of Thousand Hills Cafe/ Join us to volunteer for children’s animation workshops at schools (we usually do 3-4 a year)

HCSCADATL: What are 3 pieces of advice that you have for SCAD students wanting to grow and network before they graduate?

MT: 1. It takes time to cultivate a network and not force relationships. Sometimes you have to meet up with people a couple of times before you remember each others’ names or get familiar. Don’t expect to meet everyone at a mixer or event. Just try and find one other person you can connect with. Don’t expect to grow a network overnight. You are talking to people, it takes time to connect.

2. Also, join events that are open to students now like student volunteer positions for SIGGRAPH conference. Find the time. Look for collaboration or CLC classes to join where you can also work with people outside of your major. Go talk to other faculty professors and students. Trade knowledge. Join clubs and do activities like Generate. Keep your ears open and be proactive in seeking out what you are interested in.

3. As an introvert, meeting people can drain you. Set a time limit of how long you want to be at a place, even if it’s an hour or so so you don’t overtire yourself.

HCSCADATL: What are 3 pointers for alumni wanting to jobs (especially in animation) after they have left school?

MT: Be proactive. Lots of times when I pose job listings out, some people are interested but procrastinate and never end up following through. If you want a job, get a lead from someone, then act like you want it. I often call a prospective client lead right away after I get referral from a friend (even on facebook posts) and ask if they have a email or number I can reach people at. Very often I will get friends some lead and when I ask my clients, they tell me they never got a call. Same goes with being responsible after the initial connection and actually delivering on what you promise. A happy client will gladly refer you to their friends. Same goes with inquiry emails.  Play nice. This is really easy to say and said over and over because it’s true but

“work on increasing your skills by lifting people up around you and not putting them down.”

Often when you do things like gossip about others, it is more telling of your character than theirs. The industry is very small and we often ask each other for recommendations. No one wants to work with people they don’t like.  Hone your skillsets and never stop learning. Often, the higher level your skillset or the more general skills you have, the more your job changes are. I spend a lot of my time looking at tutorials, paying people online to teach me certain software, and exchanging information with friends. I’m an animator but have a web and multimedia background, currently self-learning Houdini, getting online tutor for Blender, and always checking up on the latest Adobe feature updates. Just because you are taught something in school, doesn’t mean your learning stops there. Be proactive. Maya is the main 3d software being taught for animation but I learn C4D/ 3DSmax/ Rhino/ Mudbox/Zbrush as well as blender so if a job requires it, I don’t have to sweat. If you see a job description you want often mentioning a skillset that you don’t have, remember what it is and go find a way to get it. Don’t wait around for people to teach you think or think that school, government, etc are responsible for getting you a job and places in life. They can help prepare you for things but how far you go is up to you.

HCSCADATL: Any other interesting piece of information for SCAD students to know??

MT: A lot, but I would rather students google this up and learn to research as well. For some info, join the ASIFA-SOUTH group to keep updated with industry news, check out ART IS KING for enterpreneurship for artist groups, my animation life, as well as other organizations. Even though I’m an animator, I mingle alot with the film industry and am also a filmmaker-in-residence with the Atlanta Film Festival. My curiosity about what film festivals are good for got me to apply for a film associate internship where I learned about programming. My suggestion is to think outside the box to see what other skills that seem oddly not related to your field can be applied to it to become your own unique strength.

Join the group here in Atlanta – they will be doing regular mixers throughout the year.  The next mixer will be March 29th at 6:30pm at Land of a Thousand Hills.  

Starting out as a staff writer & visual contributor in the Spring of 2016, Christine soon became the replacement Campus Correspondent at Her Campus Savannah College of Art and Design for the 2016-17 school year. In January 2017, she facilitated the launch of the SCAD Atlanta branch's own editorial launch, apart from the Savannah campus, leading the team to win some 2017 Her Campus awards!  She is an illustrator and avid history lover, and she also served in the Army as an Analyst and went to Bethel Ministry School before attending SCAD.  Her goal, as an illustrator, writer and in life in general, is to mine life of the treasure contained within.  She loves to find and put on display ideas, people (portraiture) and beautiful things.  Valuable things that are all around us in our everyday life in the form of friends, coworkers, classmates, nature, even industry.  She loves music (even writing songs and performing!), dance and new adventures.   Eventually she plans to write and illustrate children's books, have her own business featuring greeting cards, paper products, and her own revolutionary online/physical editorial publication.  For more about Christine check out her website at www.christineburney.com.
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