- Why did you decide to work in this industry?
I’m very lucky as I’ve wanted to work in cartoons since I was a kid. As soon as I found out you could make a career out of animation and not just watch it, I made it a point to do everything necessary to get there, and it’s been working out so far! Why animation and not film? Honestly, I was spectacularly shy as a child and would spend most of my time drawing and reading, but secretly I wanted to be an actor. I discovered that in animation, not only are you acting when you animate something, no one can actually see you! I’m much bolder now, but I still adore how subdued or wild you can get with animation over film, as well as the complete control you have over what’s on screen.
2) What’s a defining moment in your life?
Career-wise, I think it would be my parents getting me to watch animation as a child. Sure, I devoured episodes of Sailor Moon and the latest Disney movies, but my dad would record compilations of classic animated shorts on TV from the National Film Board that really broadened my horizons as a kid and showed me that there was so much more out there that you wouldn’t expect. Does that count as a moment?
3) What is your biggest concern with the future?
Besides global warming and climate change? If we’re just talking about work, my concern is having enough time and resources to make the things I want to make and share with everyone. If anyone is looking to fund a stop-motion, fairy tale-inspired horror short, please get in touch!
4) What is a successful moment in your career so far?
When I was on the festival circuit for my previous film, “The Last Resort”, there was a joke I’d written into the film that was so stupid and funny but I absolutely needed it included. While attending a screening of it at a festival, we got to that joke in the film and it made the audience laugh, which was great to know it was funny to other people than myself- but my absolute favourite reaction was that the man sitting directly in front of me literally slapped his knee in laughter. I had a verified knee-slapper of a joke in my film and I couldn’t be happier about that! If I should be more professional about a successful moment, I’d say it was that after having attended the prestigious Annecy International Animated Film Festival, this year I found myself presenting my own film with my team, as well as being on an actual panel talking about it to industry professionals. That was amazing and an honour!
5) What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
Do a good job! Do the best you can, ask for help when you need it, and tell people what you want to do and where you want to go. I want to direct animation, period. I was born for this, I went to school for this, I work in the animation industry and I tell my colleagues that I want to direct. There is zero doubt in my mind that voicing my intentions and ambitions helped me land the director position on the Five in Focus short film. If people know what you want to do, they’ll be more inclined to let you know about opportunities and/or recommend you for positions. Don’t be too humble about it- voice your wants and opinions. On the flip side, listen to your friends and colleagues. If you know someone looking for a job and you’re in a position to help them land it, support each other! Help each other! If you’re not sure what you want to do, there’s no harm in testing the waters in different areas if that will help and if you have a supportive workplace- you just need to make that clear to people who can help you get to where you want to go along with working on your own to get there.
6) What do you collect, if anything?
I collect snow globes from every foreign city I visit! Only two have broken so far- one from Edinburgh from the UK and one from Stuttgart from Germany, so I guess I’ll have to go back to replace them. My favourites are one from Copenhagen with the statue of “The Little Mermaid” inside, and one from Austin, Texas which is actually a sand globe with a snake in it since they don’t get snow. I also collect graphic novels and comics, and am in desperate need of some more bookshelves…
7) Where can people find out more about you on social media? What is next for you in your career?
You can follow me on Twitter @manifestephanie! On instagram: @its.spelled.blakey. Coming up next in my career, I’m looking at a possible storyboard supervisor position in animation at my current studio, but I’m open to directing more animation if anyone out there is looking for someone! I’ve got lots of ideas I’m ready to tell and would love to help you tell yours!