Q&A: Fawn Veerasunthorn

qa-fawn-with-oscarFrom Chonburi to California, Fawn Veerasunthorn, 31, is a prime example of a successful Thai export. The story artist talks about her journey to Hollywood and winning an Oscar.

It’s a long way from Thailand to Hollywood via Ohio, why did you choose to study in Ohio?

When I decided that my interest was in animation, there were not many options at universities in Thailand at that time. I looked into a few reputable colleges in both the US and the UK. Columbus College of Art & Design in Ohio has a strong art programme, and they also granted me a scholarship, that’s where I got my BFA in animation.

How did the opportunity arise to work for Disney? 

I was already working as a storyboard artist at other studios in Los Angeles. I always wanted to work with Disney and I had tried a few times in the past without success until 2011 when I finally got a call for an interview.

What does a story artist do?

I translate the script into sequentially drawn panels, similar to a comic artist. Story artists’ tasks vary at different studios. At Disney, we also attend story meetings with directors and writers. We pitch our work, and discuss our thoughts on each other’s sequences among our story team. It’s a collaborative process which is more or less the same for every film done at the studios.

It must be an amazing experience working for Walt Disney – a dream come true?

It really is. This place has so much history and knowledge. It’s a humbling experience to be a part of the crew, but also very inspiring.

Was animation always a passion of yours?

I always loved films and drawing. The combination of those interests led me to animation. I’m not sure when I started considering myself as an artist, but I considered art as a career a year after high school.

The success of Frozen is quite remarkable – Golden Globe, Oscar – can you believe the success of the film?

It’s hard to imagine how far Frozen has come. I was just hoping that people would enjoy the film as much as we do. The reception is just phenomenal. It’s very rewarding every time I see kids singing Frozen’s songs in public. The awards and box office success are like an icing on the cake.

What are your future plans?

There’s still a lot to learn and grow here at Disney. But I’d like to create my own content in the future, whether it’s a book or a film.

What films are you working on now?

My next project with Disney is an animated film called Zootopia It will be released in 2016.

What do you think of animation in Thailand?

I work with three other fellow Thai artists here at Disney, so I don’t think the country is short of talent. But an animated film takes a few years to make and requires experienced crew and technology. The Thai animation industry could use more support in term of resources to compete in the global market.

Would you like to create an animated film in Thailand?

Yes. If a good opportunity comes up, I’ll consider it. There’re a lot of potential materials in Thailand to create an interesting story.