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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Women in Animation: Jessica Bayliss

NOTE: This post originally appeared on my Smudge Animation site on March 15th, 2011.

Jessica Bayliss
I first met Jessica Bayliss at the Kalamazoo Animation Festival International. At the time, she had been teaching at Kalamazoo Valley Community College and had expanded this into a pair of lectures for KAFI. Jesse started out with a demonstration on Adobe After Effects then followed it up with with a lecture on stop-motion animation where she showcased her thesis film The Furry Revolt (available for viewing on her website). The model of grace under pressure, Jessica handled a room peppered with veteran animators with ease--including my gruff demeanor as well as Gary Schwartz quizzing her on what she learned about stop-motion during production of her thesis film. In the end, Jesse was the one who convinced me to upgrade to Adobe's Production Premium Suite and learn how to use After Effects (a decision that would pay for itself when I used it on the blackwork cap digital restoration project for the MET/BGC). Since then, I've read her blog and enjoyed following her adventures in California.*

So, there I was, sitting in a movie theatre on opening night for Tron Legacy, listening to the Daft Punk soundtrack as the credits rolled by. It was a rare treat to look up and see Jessica's name come up under Post-Production. A quick e-mail later confirmed that she did indeed work on one of my favorite films. While I'm sorry that she's no longer teaching here in Michigan, Jesse has made the most of her time in California. I'm looking forward to seeing what she does next at her new job for Toon Zone Studios.

Our second interviewee in this month's "Women In Animation" series is Wisconsin-native turned California girl: Jessica Bayliss.

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Q: What is your current job description?
A: I am currently working at Toon Zone Studios. it is a small animation company in LA. I mostly do editing, but being a small studio we all have many jobs.

Q: How long have you worked in the animation industry?
A: I have only been in the entertainment industry for the past 4 years and it is just recently that I made the official switch from live action feature post production or animation. That was the goal all along and it just took a little while to get there.

Q: What roles have you performed during your career in animation?
A: It is still early in my career so it has all been some form of post production thus far, but we shall see what the future brings.

Q: Is there a book or film that you worked on that you are particularly proud of?
A: hmmm... ?

Q: If your daughter said that she wanted to work in animation, what advice would you give her?
A: Since I am so early in my career, this is really the only question that really struck me as something I felt I could answer. I am still struggling to get my own career off the ground. It was not that long ago that I packed up everything that would fit in my car and drove out from the midwest to LA with no job, no place to live, and knowing no one. I can tell you that was the best decision I ever made.

The best advice I can give you is to do what I did and just be bold. Be as bold as you possibly can. Take a leap. It is easiest to be bold when you start. When you are young, fresh out of school you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. It makes it a lot easier to take chances and bold steps in you life and career when there is so much to gain. Just knock on every door and talk to anyone who will talk with you. It will be worth it. Eventually someone will remember you and give you a chance. It is all about networking. Talent is useful, but networking is what will make your career. It is all about who you know (and what they think of you). It might sound disheartening that it so frequently comes down to knowing the right person and being in the right place at the right time, but I think that is a good thing. It is something you can control and something you can change. It is completely within your power to go places where you will meet the right kind of people and put yourself out there. My dad used to say that its not about being in the right place at the right time, its being in the right place ALL the time. So go out there and meet people. Put yourself and your skills out there for the world to see and it will pay off eventually. Be bold. The more you gain, the more protective you get of it and the harder it becomes to be bold. So do it NOW! Be as bold as possible for as long as you can. You won't regret it.

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* Talent apparently runs in the family. If you get the chance, check out Jesse's sister Jamie--a fine-artist and photographer

The image used in this blog entry was taken by Kevin White, is copyright Jessica Bayliss, and used with her permission.