First, think of a story. Tell it to all your friends. Laugh about how funny it is, or ruminate about how emotional and poignant it is. Tell it again to all your friends. Insist you’re working on it really hard to make it good. Believe that you’re going to be nominated for an Academy Award.
Bring the first draft to school. Make sure you were up all night the night before stressing out over storyboards that are poorly drawn and on loose leaf paper because you used up your sketchbook over the summer making cartoon characters that make little to no sense. Make sure to tell it to the teacher with as much enthusiasm as you can muster after not sleeping, which is, surprisingly, a lot. Look at their deadpan face. Start over again.
At this point if you have not given up on your story entirely, you should at least be open enough to criticism to make what you have better. Finally, redo your storyboards and fix everything. Stop believing you’re going to get an Academy Award nomination. The teacher gives you a go ahead that seems more like an okay but you’ll be sorry than a you have something good here, keep going.
Make a basic soundtrack that sounds horrible, scout around for someone who has a voice for what you’re looking for. Wish you did a silent film.
Begin to animate, feel the rush of making your drawings come to life on screen. Feel the thrill of flipping the pages and feeling your characters move and talk and act.
Believe you’ll be nominated for an Academy Award. Continue like this until you’re halfway through your piece.
Feel the stress of other classes and all the animation you have yet to do. Become depressed. Stop working on your animation. Wonder why you ever decided to do something so crazy. Wonder why animation gets such bull from the American public and why you can’t be taken seriously as an animator. Wonder why you even care so much about that. Worry about future jobs. Worry about graduation. Sleep a lot. Feel sorry for yourself and feel like you’re letting everyone down. Talk to your therapist. Stop believing you’re ever going to be nominated for an Academy Award.
Try animating, all the while being distractable and unhappy. Begin to hate your animation. Hate yourself. Pick up a scene one day and draw. Remember how good it felt when you first started. Get a new burst of energy. Contiue to believe you won’t be nominated for an Academy Award. Instead, you just want to finish your film and see it on the big screen at your thesis show.
Finish animating. Feel good about yourself. Move into post production and feel bad again, but a kind of bad where you still can work. Get excited when you finish rendering a shot. Making sure to backup your film in triplicate because of the 3 harddrives you’ve destroyed in one way or another in the past three years is evidence enough to that. Work on your sound design, wonder how to make anything sound good.
Finish the film and put it on DVD. Play a pirated version of the Hallelujah Chorus to celebrate. Get excited to see your film finished. Get nervous about your family seeing it. Go see your film. Feel good that you finished it.
Get excited about doing another film based on this story you’ve been kicking around. Tell it to all your friends. Laugh about how funny it is, or ruminate about how emotional and poignant it is. Believe it will be nominated for an Academy Award.