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Next steps in the process?

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Joined: 28 Jul 2007
Posts: 381

PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2007 4:51 am    Post subject: Next steps in the process? Reply with quote

First off, i'm sure a few of you have no idea who I am since I post so infrequently now.

But.. Hi! I'm Aloric, or Loric, and I've been around this website for a long time. Literally -several- years. I started on this website as a teenager in highschool who did theater work as a hobby and I've always been fascinated by theme parks and that became a full blown obsession. I came here, talked with Nate and Eddie and even argued frequently. Learned more then I really like to admit. (I still quote the "How Dumbo is themed" argument from time to time...)

A few old-timers should recognize me. I still always recognize Holly. Hi Holly!

Long story, short: I'm reaching the end of my college career and will either be entering Graduate school or the real world. I'm trying to decide.

What should I do NEXT if I want to persue a career in themed design? What sort of introuctory jobs in the field are there and which ones might I qualify for...?

In breif about my work...

I'm trained as a theatrical designer and I have a modest portfolio. Well, that's my opinion, some people think it's grand - it's all speculative anyways though right? If anything, I think it's strong enough to get me into grad school for a MFA if that is saying anything.

I'm trained in AutoCAD for drafting and LD Assistant for lighting design. I am fairly experienced in paint/props and fabrication. I am, in my humble opinion, a darn good scale model maker.

So where do you folks suggest I should begin? Start out sticking to theater? Are there any transitional jobs I qualify for yet?

No Limits Thriller
Posts: 93
(1/25/07 2:48 pm)
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New Post No answer, but...
I can't really answer your question as I'm in my college phase time myself (engineering), but if you could elaborate on the "how Dumbo is themed" thing that would be nice. You've got my curiousity Wink

Posts: 60
(1/25/07 3:20 pm)
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New Post Re: No answer, but... Back when Islands of Adventure was opening I was a big fan of that park. I didn't really have much experience with Disney, and I didn't really know much about design, so for all its pomp, circumstance, flash and snazzy lights IOA was the be-all end-all.

To me, theme was story - IOA told a story, the Islands were a story. That's why themed rides were fun, not just roller coasters or amusement park attractions: because they had stories!

Eddie pointed out this wasn't exactly true. Why do people love Dumbo? Who is it so much more popular then any unthemed version of the ride will ever be, and why is Dumbo themed?

We just know it is.. right?

It turns out that telling a story, a storyline, plot - is just a device you can use to convey a theme. It's not necessary. Spelling out the story in the queue with video monitors, having a preshow, etc.. Not neccessary at all. This is how desingers have fallen into the trap of the "something suddenly goes wrong" premise and other troubling traps of dealing with involving your audience in a plot.

Well, back to Dumbo - it evokes/embodies an idea. That's all, nothing more, nothing less. It's a good idea though. That's the theme. There's a few different ways you can interpet it, but when designing you'd have to settle on which aspect you're working from... The public can then choose how they want to see it.

Generally though, Dumbo represents the fanciful breaking free from the restraints of reality. Isn't that what the Magic Kingdom is really all about? Elephants aren't meant to fly, but give them a feather and off they go...

Posts: 52
(1/26/07 3:59 am)
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New Post Programs I'm a high school student, but I've been poking around, looking for college programs. I've found the WDW Colege Program and The Disney Professional Internship. The college program allows you to work at the parks while taking courses like Ride and Show Engineering. The professional internship lets you work at Imagineering. I really really really want to get into these. Very Happy

Edited by: dancinbelle at: 2/1/07 1:17 pm
No Limits Thriller
Posts: 94
(1/26/07 5:31 am)
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New Post Got it Right, I understand.

The re-imagineering blog had a piece about that a while ago:
Saturday, November 25, 2006
The Myth of Story

Posts: 137
(1/26/07 6:05 pm)
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New Post WDWCP Hey belle,

I hear the WDW programs are great, but make sure to look into the pro's and con's and spend a lot of time looking at where you will actually go to University and what you will major in. The WDWCP and internships are usually just a semester or two "vacation" from your regular college education (and a chance to network).

Also, make sure to research outside of the Disney site, so you know what to expect beyond what is advertised. There are several websites out there where people talk about their experiences with the WDWCP, and that might give you a better insight into what it actually is or is not (look for people who write both good and bad (mostly good)... some people are born complainers and so they write extremely critically about anything...).

The college decision is hard, but I wish you the best! Jump on those applications and enjoy the daydreaming Smile

Loric... HIIIIII!!!!!!'re graduating already? Wonderful! Smile I don't really know what to tell you... You might want to start talking to colleagues in the industry, go for "informational interviews" (if you are not familiar, it's a good term to Google), and start figuring out what is right for you... I think what you are asking is more of a personal decision... There is no *right* answer... and who knows what jobs are out there until you start looking? As they say, most jobs available are never listed... and I've heard others say that even if there isn't a job, a company will always make room if the right person comes along ... it's a strange, strange industry, and I wish you the best! Smile

Edited by: Holly3216 at: 1/26/07 6:10 pm
Posts: 1
(1/28/07 2:52 pm)
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New Post Re: Next steps in the process? Hi there,

I'm currently in grad school as a lighting designer so I can probably answer a lot of your questions if you decide to go down that path, feel free to email me ( ). Here's some general advice about grad school though:

1) Take a year or two off. This probably isn't an option unless you've already applied. The major programs (NYU, Yale, Carnegie Mellon, SUNY Purchase, and Penn State) will expect it from you anyway. But its also important personally. I didn't take a year off and regret it, even though I had the professional credits to get in.

2) Take a long time considering where to enroll. Talk to as many students as you possibly can and be sure to sit in on a day's worth of classes, being sure to include one's you're likely to take in your first year.

3) Grad schools are as much about where you want to end up as what you'll learn. For example, NYU, Yale and CMU students have a massive advantage as theatrical designers when they graduate because they present their portfolios at Ming's Clam Bake (the largest gathering of directors, designers, and production managers). If you're only interested in themed environments, CMU's Entertainment Technology Center has impressive connections with WDI.

hope this helps,

Posts: 139
(1/29/07 10:23 pm)
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New Post Grad Yeah, I took a year off between undergrad and grad as well... I think it gave me more of a perspective of what I was working for, why I was going to grad school, and how the working world operates. The only bad thing is that I've heard of many people who take a break and can't find the discipline to re-enter school. If you know yourself, you'll know if taking a year or two off will mean that you'll never end up going back to school... But then, if you take a year off, maybe you'll figure out that you already have the resources, network and talent you need and that you don't need grad school after all...

Posts: 61
(1/30/07 5:38 pm)
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New Post further.. I actually have a year left, but I figured now is the time to be getting everything in order.

I'm going to URTA with a friend soon, and watching him do the whole chit-chat with Grad schools thing.

What exactly do they want from an undergrad? Or even from someone with that year or two off? What sort of experience are they looking for?

I know many of my questions will be answered just by being at URTA and seeing everyone's displays and portfolios.. but anyone want to give me a leg up?

What skills sets are we talking about? In terms of realistic expectations - how many shows am I expected to have designed before entering grad school?

Oy.. so many questions. I wish there was a resource that would give me an idea of what's expected of me.

Posts: 62
(1/30/07 5:39 pm)
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New Post Re: further.. Oh.. and about taking the time off..

What sort of job would one recommend taking if I did?

Posts: 140
(1/31/07 7:33 pm)
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New Post Job Where do you want to be in 5 years?...

And what talents or skills do you need to polish or strengthen in order to get that dream job?...

Asking yourself questions is a good way to begin to narrow down where you might begin a job search...

I have a lot of trouble making decisions sometimes... But by asking questions, I begin to find some concrete things to work from or I begin to face what is at the root of my anxiety about making the decision... Sometimes I realize that my mind already knows how it wants to move forward and what it wants... I've just been supressing those desires in order to make it through the daily grind or please other people.

Sometimes it helps to start writing, and see what comes out... You may realize you know a lot of the answers already...

Another colleague recommends actually saying to yourself, "I will work as a ______." or "I will go at grad school at _____." Make whatever you are saying a fact, with all of its implications, pros and cons... Try it on as a truth... Walk around with the idea that it is true and you are working towards it. How does it feel? Good? Bad? If it's not right, move onto the next choice you think you want and "try it on" as true for you life... see if it feels better than the first.

That technique can be surprisingly useful at times... especially when things seem really muddled and there's there's a lot of "ifs" or "maybes".

I'm not really in a position to recommend one path or another for you... and really, you might want to consult with some wise person who knows your work, your personality and your goals in life... and can guide you through choosing between different options.

Edited by: Holly3216 at: 1/31/07 7:56 pm
Posts: 2
(2/2/07 9:53 am)
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New Post Re: further..
The year or two off is about life experience, non-academic career experience, and showing that returning to school is the right choice. Each school is different, there's no "number" of shows-- but the more selective the program the more they'll want to see. Most of the people I know at a top tier school will have designed at least 10 productions in their area of specialty in the last two to three years, with many of those being non-academic. Quite honestly for the portfoio three or so stellar productions with strong concepts, good photographs (both the cue and the picture have to be good), and clean paperwork is all you really need in there. Be able to talk about the cue, the show, why you included it, etc.

Other skills the'll look for are drawing, paperwork (lightwright), drafting (CAD or VectorWorks for most schools), communication, ability to present your ideas powerfully and briefly, the ability to photograph your own work is sort of de facto, and very importantly, an interesting point of view. Many schools will ask what you do outside of theater, I minored in psychology and was able to talk about how my understanding of that discipline helped me understand theater in a different way, for example.

I wouldn't limit yourself to the URTA schools. Do some research about where the people who have the jobs you'd like to in the future went to school. Consider the ETC for example. The other problem I have with URTA is that it doesn't give you the opportunity to see the schools and talk to the facualty on their 'home court'. You're interviewing them as much as their interviewing you.
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