Female Filmmaker Friday with Character Designer Annlyn Huang

by BlueSkyStudios

Hi Annlyn! Thank you for joining us today! To kick things off, can you tell us about your role and what a “day in the life” is like for you? How does your work impact the final film?

As a character designer, I work with my leads and art director to bring the movie cast into being. Every day I’m either sketching, refining, or adding additional drawings to support the characters as they travel to other departments. What I do is just the first step in the great moviemaking marathon.

We can’t believe it’s been almost one year since the release of Spies in Disguise! Can you tell us what you are most proud of from that film?

Designing the drone was a challenge since I hadn’t tackled anything mechanical before, but it allowed me to stretch my imagination. The prompt had been something like, "what does a creepy drone with Swiss army knife capabilities look like?" On top of that puzzle, I discovered that its basic chassis looked just like a popcorn kernel and the tick served as a perfect muse. All in all the drone was a really fun design process for me.

When did you know you wanted to be a filmmaker? Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to where you are today?

I was obsessed with animals and the fantasy genre as a kid. I drew them all the time and just never stopped. Then Ghibli films and Roald Dahl’s film adaptation of James and the Giant Peach made me fall in love with the art of storytelling. How could a few drawings become THAT? That led me to study Animation/Illustration at San Jose State University (SJSU) and eventually end up here!

Can you give us a peek under the hood of your creative process? What gives you inspiration?

I love the idea of just being able to jump into painting, but I think I’m more of a draftsman. I like to build my first scribbly sketches into a complete idea. For inspiration, I like photography or glimpses into the natural world because so much cool design exists as is. And listening to film/game soundtracks always gets me into a creative spirit. 

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As an artist, what have been some of the challenges in this new “working from home”, virtual environment? Have there been any surprising benefits?

In this new "WFH" environment, I could have 3-4 meetings without leaving my chair. It’s convenient, but I do miss visiting friends in-person at the studio. Working from home has been surprisingly nice in some ways, like getting to enjoy a homecooked lunch every day.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Have patience with yourself. It’s easy to feel frustrated with everything you can’t be in a given moment. Just enjoy all the learning and good stuff that comes from being fully present. The outcome will be all the sweeter.

Thank you so much Annlyn for joining us today!

To see more of Annlyn's work, follow her on Instagram at @Annlynhuang and watch "Spies in Disguise", now on Digital, Blu-ray & 4K Ultra HD!

Be sure to follow @blueskystudios for more behind the scenes updates and for our next #FemaleFilmmakerFriday. Read more about filmmaker career here.