Animator and educator Dori Littell-Herrick has been the chair of the department of animation in the school of media, culture and design at Woodbury University since 2005. She is also an active board member of the Los Angeles chapter of ASIFA: The International Animated Film Society, where she has served as one of the founding members of the Animation Educators Forum. Founded by a group of animators in 1957, ASIFA “encourages the art of animation and furthers international understanding and goodwill through the medium.”
This spring, Littell-Herrick and ASIFA have been proactive in creating a robust new scholarship program for nascent animators. “I’ve been most interested in driving forward the scholarship initiative,” she said. “In the past, ASIFA Hollywood has had a smaller scholarship line in its budget. We wanted to add to it to offer a more substantial scholarship range. We have increased the amount we can offer to a total of $30,000.”
Rather than create one scholarship for $30,000, ASIFA aims to offer multiple scholarships for smaller amounts. “We’re accepting proposals for amounts of money up to $5,000,” said Littell-Herrick. “That can go towards tuition, books and supplies, software and hardware, or the production of a senior thesis or graduate thesis project.”
While Littell-Herrick noted that many collegiate scholarships are aimed at incoming freshmen, this new endeavor is geared towards sophomores, upperclassmen, and beyond. “We are starting with students who have been at the university for a year on to graduate school,” she said. “ASIFA is an international organization, so we went with an international spread. The ASIFA Hollywood chapter is the biggest with 3,000 members, but there are chapters around the world. The animation community has spread around the world, across different schools. We’re more mobile than a lot of communities.”
With this initial offer having a cap of $30,000, Littell-Herrick’s expectation is that ASIFA will grant 6-10 scholarships to begin the enterprise. “The judges may decide to give smaller awards to people applying for books,” Littell-Herrick conveyed, but she further noted, “I wouldn’t expect a much higher amount than 10.”
Coming together quickly, this new operation directs applicants towards a website, with a due date of June 15. “I’m already getting students writing for recommendation letters,” said Littell-Herrick. “We’re planning on awarding the scholarships in July before the school year starts. The intent is to look at our discretionary funds every year and put funds back into the scholarship line to keep offering scholarships on a regular basis. If you try to find scholarships specifically for people in animation, there’s almost none.”
Potential applicants are asked to send in a short personal biography explaining why they have chosen to work in animation, and why the medium important to them, in addition to providing samples of designs or a short reel. “We are trying to gather a sense of discipline from applicants who are thoughtful about their career and have a good idea of how they are going to spend the money,” Littell-Herrick revealed. “Animation is two parts talent and two parts really hard work. It’s important to us to look for someone who is evidencing interest in the career as well as the art talent.”
Applications for academic year 2015-16 are available now at the AEF online application site at: scholarships.animationeducatorsforum.org. Applications from international students are also welcome. All scholarship award winners will receive a one-year associate membership to ASIFA-Hollywood.