I received an email from someone asking about writing for animation. For the sake of background information, I started as an animator at a studio in LA, at some point that evolved into working in the story department as a story artist. The story artist is a person that writes an animated film in visual form by drawing images. Today, studios are changing. The art of the story artist is being lost. This is one of those mandates by the pathetic executives that are taking over our beloved industry without a clue of what made it so successful in the first place.
Almost all of the studios these days don’t even bring in the story artist until the treatment or sometimes script is completed by a writer. That means someone sits down at a typewriter and knocks out the story before a pencil is lifted. These studios don’t even want to see a story artist until they have greenlit the screenplay. It saves them money and they don’t feel like they are losing anything by doing this. However, they are removing the piece of the puzzle that has been so successful in the past. Executives see the story artist as a waste of space, after all, animated films are just movies, why can’t they follow the same rules as a regular live action film?
To the person who wrote the question to me via email: If you are an artist and wish to work in story (as a story artist), then you should go to a school such as CalArts. But, be warned that your creative future is not what it would of been a few years back. If you are not an artist but wish to work as a writer for animation. You are in luck, it seems like everyone is embracing that as the preferred method of animated film development. If you aren’t employed at a major studio, your best bet is to do some writing, take that to some agents, and try to get represented. The bigger agents won’t even look at you unless you have done film or television work already, so you are in a catch-22. Start with the smaller agents and work your way up. I suggest going to wordplayer.com and get some information from the writers there.