Image from the AFPA
Courtesy of the AFPA

The Animated Film Production Association

By Seth Haden

What started as an idea among a few students who shared a passion for creating animated films became an official organization in the spring of 2020, and now over a year later members are busy with script writing, storyboarding, character design, and animation in order to finish their next project by the end of the fall semester.

Katerina Coronado, a fifth year animation major, is the Co-Founder and current President of the Animated Film Production Association. She believed creating the organization would be beneficial to students within the animation program. The AFPA lets students experience the collaborative process of producing an animated film, which for many of them is their dream job. The organization is structured to mimic the studio setting of animated film production.

“We break our club into a couple of subcategories. We have narrative, storyboarding, character design, visual development/background, and animation,” Coronado said. Members may choose to be a part of one group or as many as they want. The flexibility allows members to hone in on skills they already know or learn new skills they are interested in. Everyone is encouraged to explore all aspects of animated film production. “We really want it to be a positive experience for people who come in and want to learn about animation whether you have experience or not,” Coronado said.

Katelyn Bernado, a third year pre-production art major, is a member of the AFPA and even with her busy schedule she finds time to collaborate on the projects. She recently provided sketches for prop designs and one of them is being finalized for an upcoming animated film. While she cannot attend every meeting, she helps anyway she can.

“They’re very lenient on participation, meaning you can contribute however much you’re willing [to] with no pressure. In the end, every little contribution counts, especially since the projects are such a huge undertaking,” Bernado said.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the AFPA moved all of their production online, and like many other clubs on campus, they use Discord to communicate and collaborate on projects together. The move to online was difficult, especially with keeping member retention up, but the club has continued to grow. Even with this difficulty and others, creating and leading the AFPA has been a rewarding experience for Coronado. Before being the President, Coronado had no previous roles as a leader, so the AFPA has been a big responsibility for her.

“I have to check in with my officers, my administrative members, and be committed to something that’s bigger than myself. So if a lot of the projects don’t go well that’s on me. If I don’t hold up my end then everything is affected as well,” Coronado said.

Coronado does not let the pressure get to her as she has had the entire organization helping her along the way. She expressed how grateful she was to have met so many people through the organization. For herself and many others in the organization, the AFPA was one of the few ways to meet new people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It led me to meet some really amazing people in the [animation] program. Students that want to work in a collaborative environment. I’m really thankful for the people I’ve met throughout the process,” Coronado said.

Gabe Dimagiba, a second year transfer animation major, shares the same sentiments as Coronado. As a character design lead, he is in charge of assigning tasks and ensuring they were completed in a timely manner. It was a role he never had before, but with the guidance of Coronado he has learned how to be a capable leader. Dimagiba will be taking the position of President in the Spring 2022 semester and if all goes according to plan, the AFPA expects to resume in-person meetings then.

“I’m looking forward to meeting all the faces I’ve met online! There will most definitely be a learning curve as we get used to the transition from being fully online to fully in-person but it’s an exciting change regardless,” Dimagiba said.

While the AFPA was created with animators in mind, the organization is open to all students at Long Beach State regardless of major. Coronado stresses that the organization is for anyone that is interested in making animated films and learning new skills.

“We have a lot of marine biology majors [and] some engineering majors…[and] our narrative team is composed mostly of non-art majors… [that] come from theater [and] creative writing,” Coronado said.

The AFPA currently has two animated films in production: “Ghosted” and “Crocodile Tears.” “Ghosted” is about a girl who explores a cemetery, meets several ghosts, and learns that she is not alone in this world. It is the newest project of the AFPA, only being pitched a few weeks ago and is still in the process of being written. “Crocodile Tears” is about an anthropomorphic crocodile who is at odds with his mother. He wants to be a punk rock artist but his mother is a classically trained musician. The film will explore his journey of trying to do what he wants versus his mother’s wishes. “Crocodile Tears” has been the main focus of the AFPA for the past few months and they expect to release it at the end of the Fall semester.