Posted on November 16th 2012 in Announcement
In 2011, the first year of The Matt Groening Fellowship, the multi-Emmy®-winning creator of “The Simpsons,” selected and generously funded six films by TFT animation students, on themes of social responsibility.
It was Associate Dean Barbara Boyle, then Chair of the School’s Department of Film Television and Digital Media, who had pursued Groening to fund the first year of the Fellowship — and it was the sheer excellence of that first batch of films that convinced him to continue his support.
This year Groening underwrote eleven films, and, as Boyle explained on November 2, to a large audience of students, alumni, and faculty assembled at the Bridges Theater, this was purely because he was so impressed with all of the eleven proposals the department submitted to him.
Groening expressed his delight with all of this year’s films, from their innovative concepts to their layered, professional-quality sound design. He had fully intended, he said, to take notes on all eleven, but after writing the single word “sweet” on his notepad during the first, he became so absorbed in the experience that he never wrote another line.
Inarguably one of the most influential figures in modern animation, Groening graciously credited award-winning “Simpsons” directors such as TFT Animation Workshop alums David Silverman ’79, MFA ’83, Mike B. Anderson MFA ’90 and Professor Chuck Sheetz ’83, all of whom attended the screening, for their contributions to his success.
Groening has won twelve Primetime Emmy® Awards, ten for “The Simpsons” and two for “Futurama,” as well as the National Cartoonist Society Reuben Award and a British Comedy Award. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2012.
Groening has also become one the TFT Animation Workshop’s most munificent benefactors, with a major gift in 2011 that created The Matt Groening Chair in Animation, with benefits that include bringing visiting master artists from the field to teach classes in the Workshop.
Left to Right, Top Row: Celia Mercer, Professor, Head, Animation Workshop; Vivian Lee MFA 12; Po Chou Chi MFA ’12; Danielle Heitmuller, Alex Wong, Jing Wong and Yangzi She, first year students.
Second Row: “Simpsons” creator Matt Groening; Arem Kim, second-year student; Rami Kim, first-year student; Jessica Hokanson, thesis student.
Bottom Row: Heng Zhang, second year student; Ariel Goldberg MFA ’12; TFT alumnus Chuck Sheetz ’83, Professor, Vice-Chair Undergraduate Studies, Emmy©-winning “Simpsons” director.
Photo by Juan Tallo
Film Stills, Top to Bottom:
“Recover” (Po Chou Chi)
Terror in a Three-Piece Suit” (Ariel Goldberg)
“The Adventures of Bugsy McKay” (Jessica Hokanson)
“Rainy Day Ducks” (Danielle M. Heitmuller)
“Today’s Headline” (Arem Kim)
“Rietoki” (Rami Kim)
“Baseball Boogie” (Vivian Lee)
“To the Fairest” (Yangzi She)
“Family” (Alex Wong)
“The Secret of the Wardrobe” (Jing Wong)
“The Last Snowcap” (Heng Zhang)
Groening Fellowship Students 2012
- Po Chou Chi MFA ’13
- Ariel Goldberg ’07, MFA ’12
- Jessica Hokanson MFA ’13
- Danielle M. Heitmuller MFA ’13
- Arem Kim MFA ’13
- Rami Kim MFA ’13
- Vivian Lee MFA ’12
- Yangzi She MFA ’13
- Alex Wong MFA ’14
- Jing Wong
- Zeng Zhang
Groening Fellowship Students 2011
- Alexis Block MFA ’11
- Debra Chow MFA ’12
- Chris Anderson & Ariel Goldberg ’07, MFA ’12
- Mary Lai MFA ’10
- Sijia Luo MFA ’10
- Erick Oh MFA ’10
> Tom Sito
> Steven Ritz-Barr
Steven Ritz-Barr learned Puppetry Arts from Jean-Loup Temporal in Paris, while studying at L’Ecole Jacques LeCoq in 1980. He was introduced to film/video through a Jim Henson Workshop in 1985 and soon after worked with Jean-Pierre Jeunet (before City of Lost Children and Amelie) and the first seasons of the longest running (19 years) adult political satire show in history-Les Guignol de l’Info. In the U.S., he puppeteered on “Batman Returns,” “Men in Black,” “Aliens Resurrection,” “Team America: World Police,” “Muppets Tonight” and others, and has performed thousands of his own live shows for children. Presently, he’s creating the puppet-film series, Classics in Miniature, the first of which is “Faust.” “Quixote” is in development.
Classics in Miniature
Mepropolitan Puppet Authority
> Lynn Okimura
As a UCLA student, Lynn Okimura ’00, MFA ’05 garnered multiple honors or prizes, including the industry selected Spotlight Award in Animation. Prior to returning to campus as a member of the faculty, her creative work was in flash and 2D animation for mobile content and in music videos for many companies, including Disney TV Animation, and for interactive and software companies. Her passion for teaching young artists is evidenced by the animation curriculum for youth she created through the nationally recognized STAR INC nonprofit organization. That curriculum has burgeoned into the staple of the program’s after school enrichment program reaching students of all economic backgrounds. Her independent projects have won awards and screened at festivals throughout the world, including The Hawaii International Film Festival, The San Diego Asian American Film Festival, The Los Angeles Visual Communication Film Festival, Seattle’s Bumbershoot Arts Festival and New York’s Animation Block Party.
> Glenn Vilppu
Animator Glenn Vilppu has worked for Walt Disney, Warner Bros. and DreamWorks Animation and is noted for bridging the gap between traditional classical constructive drawing, computers and animation. He is much sought after as a lecturer on classical drawing and is honorary dean of DHMI of Japan’s Computer and Traditional Art School.
His publications include Vilppu Sketchbook, The Vilppu Drawing Manual, Vilppu Sketching on Location Manual, and Vilppi’s Animal Drawing Manual, among others.
Doug Ward has been the academic administrator and a lecturer at the UCLA Animation Workshop Since 1997. He is in charge of the day-to-day operations of the M.F.A. graduate animation program, which includes teaching, financial oversight, research and public outreach.
Ward was one of three Animation Workshop members involved in the writing of two grant proposals that led to the animation program receiving more than $800,000 from the Walter Lantz Foundation. With this funding, he oversaw the planning and implementation of the Walter Lantz Digital Animation Studio constructed at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.
During the summer, he teaches a six-week, traditional animation class for college-age students at the UCLA Film & Television Summer Institute. He taught a one-week, traditional animation class to high school students as part of U.S. Performing Arts Camps for 14 years and has taught animation classes as a visiting professor at Loyola Marymount University.
Prior to UCLA, Ward worked as a character layout artist and animation timer for Fox’s King of the Hill. He also spent six years in the interactive industry, as an animator, director, writer and producer. His credits include The Wacky World of Miniature Golf, a compact disc interactive game he created, co-wrote, directed, and animated for Phillips Electronics, narrated by Eugene Levy. He has won numerous awards for his independent animated films and recently received an Emmy certificate from the Television Academy for his work on The Simpsons.
Ward has an original YouTube series called The Barry Bird Show, and is currently completing the show’s 25th episode.