Student Snapshot: Chelsea and Nicole Low

My name is Nicole and I’m a BFA3/Senior at the FSU College of Motion Picture Arts. I had drawn and painted my entire life but it wasn’t until I was a sophomore in high school that I decided to become an animator. I was watching the behind-the-scenes featurette on some animated film (I can’t even remember which one) and came to the seemingly obvious realization that creating animated movies is something that people do every day, and came to yet another realization, that I wanted to be doing that to0. So when it was time to think about college, I researched different schools that had animation majors and fell in love with FSU. It was actually the only school I applied to. I never thought I was going to get into the film school but here I am. Now I’m working towards to becoming a character designer and modeler.

My name is Chelsea and I am now a BFA2 at the FSU Film School. I’m also Nicole’s twin sister. You’re probably wondering why I’m a year below Nicole even though we’re twins. Well, the story of my entry into the film school isn’t quite as picturesque as hers. Like Nicole, art has always been a very important part of my life. I would create little videos and comics growing up. Then during high school, I discovered film and animation. It gave me the ability to make anything possible and the rest is history. But I didn’t believe I could make a career out of it…until after my freshman year in college when I couldn’t see myself doing anything but film. So I applied to the film school.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t accepted that year but try, try, and try again, I reapplied the next year and what do you know, here I am making my dreams a reality.

What are you currently working on?

Nicole: Right now, I’m working on my Thesis film. We’re still working out the details but its based on a legend from San Juan, Puerto Rico, where my mom grew up. I’ll be serving as the art director, which means I’ll be designing all the characters and creating the overall look of the film.

Chelsea: I am currently working on my F2, which is my third film in the program and also my first animated film.

What does your typical day look like?

Nicole: My typical day consists of one or two 3-hour-long classes. Right now I have writing, look development, animation, and production design classes. When I get home I usually spend a few hours doing homework and practicing my figure drawing. After that, I hang out with friends and relax a bit.

Chelsea: Because this is my first year in the film school, my classes are a lot more general and consist of a little bit of everything. So typically, my day starts at 9am and goes onto 6pm. I know it sounds long, but we’re always learning something really interesting like animation, cinematography, directing, acting, and so much more. This summer has been very hands-on, so there isn’t really any time to feel bored.

What has been the best part of Film School so far?

Chelsea: The best part of being in the film school is being able to work with such amazing and creative people. My class is so talented and passionate that they make working together a joy, and they challenge me to take risks and become a better filmmaker. They make coming to school an adventure.

Nicole: I agree with Chelsea in that both the faculty and the students really make the film school great. That’s really apparent to me right now as my class is writing our thesis films. We all push each other to make our films the best they can be.

Which faculty member has made the greatest impression on you, and how?

Chelsea: Dr. Val is one of the most caring and passionate professors I have ever had. Lucky for me, I had the pleasure of taking Dr. Val’s History of Animation class my freshman year and because of her, I am now in the animation field. She truly cares for all of her students and always wants the best for us. When we were away for our documentaries, Dr. Val would make the time to talk to each one of her students every day to make sure we were alright. She’s a strong and talented woman in the film industry and is an inspiration to me.

Nicole: While I have learned so much from all of my teachers in the film school, my three animation professors have made the greatest impression on me. Ken, Tom, and Jason have imparted me with so much knowledge of how to make a beautiful, compelling, and powerful animated film.

What do you think someone applying to the program should know about the FSU Film School?

Chelsea: The Film School is not for the faint of heart. It’s not like it’ll kill you and suck out your soul (hopefully), but it is very challenging. It will take up a lot of your time and test your artistic abilities immensely. It might even break you sometimes, but it’s all worth it in the end. Before you apply, make sure you really want this. There are hundreds of students who would kill to be in the film school so make sure you have the drive, determination, and passion to be in this school and most importantly, this industry. It’s okay if you don’t know what you want to do in the industry, but just be sure that this is where you want to be.

Nicole: If you’re applying to the FSU Film school, get ready to work long and hard both in and out of class. The results of your labor are incredibly rewarding, but to get there you have to spend many, many days animating three seconds worth of film. So if you can get through those rough patches of mind-numbing work and find the fun in it, you can probably be an animator, provided you’re willing to learn the skills required. What really sets an animator apart is how much they’re willing to do outside of school.