Meet Junior Storyboard Revisionist Fiona Ryan! #interview

Meet our Dublin-based Junior Storyboard Revisionist Fiona Ryan! Her graduate short film ‘Joining Dots’ won her the Best Writer award at the Student Animation Awards in Animation Dingle earlier this year! We managed to catch her for a few minutes to chat about her role and why she loves animation.


How did you get into animation? 

I didn’t actually realize that animation could be a career until I was almost finished secondary school and when I did, it sounded like my dream job!

I’d always loved cartoons and animated movies and I was constantly drawing and making up my own stories. I originally was leaning towards graphic design as a career but once I saw animation as a career option I just fell in love with the idea.

How long have you worked in the animation industry?

I’d been making short films in college, and my short film ‘Joining Dots’ has been selected for several animation festivals.

I did some freelance work in Ireland but Brown Bag Films gave me my first studio job just 7 months ago. And although I’m still pretty new to the industry, I am keen to learn and progress and I’m having a great time so far, working with amazing people and developing my own skills as an artist.

What’s your current role and what does it involve?

At the moment, I’m working as a Junior Storyboard Revisionist for a TV series, as well as Storyboard Artist for shorts and promotional work within the company. I coordinate with the Senior Storyboard Artists and Directors to perfect the boards on the show before they go to animatic, as well as design 2d assets for preproduction based on scripts.

What are your biggest influences/inspirations? 

There’s so much amazing work out there for inspiration, it depends on when I have to pull different inspirations out to keep me going, but here are a couple of examples - I’m a big fan of Glen Keane for his animation skills and attention to detail, Julia Pott, Alan Holly and Tomm Moore for their unique visual styles and the Late Night Work Club’s amazing work ethic and variety of talent is also really inspiring.

What’s your favourite tool to use and why?

For storyboarding, I use Toon Boom Storyboard Pro - it’s really well designed and has lots of little shortcuts and features which make storyboarding a lot quicker. For animating, as I am a 2D animator, I use TV Paint - I like it because it gives a nice loose, hand-drawn feel that suits my kind of style.

You were recently awarded Best Writer at the Student Animation Awards in Animation Dingle! Can you tell us a little bit about your experience and the work you did?

Yeah Animation Dingle was a lot of fun! The award was for my graduate short film ‘Joining Dots’, which I made last year during my final year of college in IADT.

It was really cool to have my work acknowledged like that - a lot of sleepless nights went into that film! It also screened in the Toronto Film Fest and Zagreb Film Festival this year and won awards in the Galway Film Fleadh and the Dublin Animation Film Festival and the Festival of European Animation in Belgrade, which was all amazing to be part of. 

What advice would you give someone considering getting into animation?

Definitely go for it, it’s a really nice industry to be involved in. The community and support is amazing.

Draw as much as you can and build up a large body of work that you can pick from for a portfolio.

If you can, get a mentor to help edit your portfolio to its best before applying to companies. 

I think that the industry appreciates people who are really driven and passionate about their work, so try to show that in your portfolio/interviews too.  

Go to festivals and chat to everyone, the community is really welcoming and people are always happy to give advice, take business cards etc. 

What do you love most about working in animation?
You get to work with like-minded, creative and inspiring people, that you feel like a part of the family with when you join a company.

Not only do I get to draw all day for a living, which is amazing, I work on really exciting shows which will be watched by kids around the world.

What’s the most challenging thing about working in animation?

There are obviously pressures involved because it’s still a job at the end of the day, so there are always deadlines and sometimes it can be stressful. However, it’s always worth it when you see the results on screen. 

Every month we sit down with the team to watch an episode, which is great for keeping up motivation and reminding everyone what we are working towards. 

Outside of animation what are you most passionate about?
I love playing the piano in my spare time to de-stress and relax. I also love illustrating and want to write and illustrate my own children’s books someday.

I really enjoy painting murals for people and organisations, which I’ve been doing freelance for the past few years.


Are you interested in getting into animation? Keep an eye on our Behind-the-Scenes and Tutorials pages for more interviews and #TopTips!

Anahita Tabarsi

Anahita is Brown Bag Films' Digital Marketing Manager and drinks more than five coffees a day...

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