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Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on March 6th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 13, Issue 52 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 52

From small town to Tinsel Town

An Academy Award winner and a nominee have roots in the Central Coast

BY JOE PAYNE

The Academy Awards represent the top of the film industry: Once you’re in, you’re in for good. Many big-name films and their crews vie for the spotlight, with directors, actors, producers, and more hoping to take center stage to accept the coveted statue.


Making images:
Academy Award-winning director of the film Brave, Mark Andrews, graduated from Santa Ynez Valley Union High School and attended an animation class at Allan Hancock College.
PHOTO COURTESY OF WALT DISNEY PICTURES AND PIXAR

One winner and one nominee this year can track experiences and roots to the Central Coast, both in the form of Allan Hancock College, whose motto “Start Here, Go Anywhere” certainly rings true.

Disney and Pixar’s most recent animated adventure, Brave, won the award for Best Animated Film. Accepting the award was the only kilt-clad winner of the night, Mark Andrews, who graduated from Santa Ynez Valley Union High School in 1987 and subsequently enrolled in “Introduction to Animation” class at Allan Hancock College.

The award-winning director had a chance to e-mail the college about his experience in the class he took under the late teacher Ed Harvey.

“My brother and I were the only ones in our class to complete an animated short film for the class on cell,” he said in the e-mail. “Harvey told my brother and me about Cal Arts, and the rest is history.”

Though this is Andrews’ first Oscar win, it wasn’t his first time at the awards ceremony. He received an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Film for his short One Man Band in 2005. The director has been involved in animation, character design, and conceptual design for decades thanks to his experience at Cal Arts, which began with Allan Hancock College. At the time when he enrolled, Hancock was the only college on the Central Coast that offered a course in animation.


From PCPA to CIA:
Best actress nominee Jessica Chastain spent some time at PCPA Theaterfest, seen here (far left) playing Hermia from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a 1999 production.
PHOTO COURTESY OF PCPA THEATERFEST

“Hancock was a mecca for the arts, theatre, film, and especially animation,” he said. “It was at that time the only school in hundreds of miles that had an animation course. That just goes to show you how forward thinking Hancock was.”

Allan Hancock College currently boasts a comprehensive program that offers an associate degree in animation, which allows students to choose an emphasis on either traditional 2D animation or 3D animation. A plethora of visual arts and computer arts classes accompany the program and are available each semester.

The college does well preparing visual artists like Andrews who work primarily behind the scenes in Hollywood, but one can’t forget the hugely popular Pacific Conservatory for the Performing Arts (PCPA), which prepares actors for their moments in front of the camera by being on stage, performing live.

Jessica Chastain—nominee for Best Actress for her role in the film Zero Dark Thirty—was a student at the conservatory. She performed as Hermia in a 1999 production of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Though she didn’t win the Oscar, Chastain did win Best Actress at the Golden Globes, and was also nominated for an Oscar for her role in The Help.

Many silver screen stars can trace their roots back to PCPA, including such big names as Kathy Bates, Robin Williams, and Zac Efron. Chastain, who studied and performed with PCPA, is another on the list of great actors and actresses to hone their craft at the theater company.

“In general, PCPA’s legacy is full of people who have gone on in Broadway and film and have received the highest honors in those pursuits,” said Craig Shafer, head of publicity at PCPA. “And there are so many people who are on camera, on stage, or behind the scenes, tens of thousands, so you never know who you are going to see on stage here who may be winning the Oscar in 10 years.”

Arts Editor Joe Payne is more than ready for his Academy Award. Contact him at jpayne@santamariasun.com.