Tag Archives: Randy Koshinskie

I Was a Teenage Sunbow Intern – Part 8

1980s Sunbow Productions logo as title card for Tim Finn's blog post

In our last episode ([Part 1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]), Tim began his internship exploring production materials for The Brothers Flub.

In the first week, there were two art-related tasks given to the interns.  The first was for MIP or MIPCOM, annual markets where networks, producers, and studios meet to buy, hype, and sell programming for television.  Much as ToysRUS’s year revolves around Christmas, Sunbow’s year revolved around these.  I don’t know who attended, but presumably our top Sales, Production, and Development people from the New York office.  I think they were in different cities each year, and the two different conferences were six months apart.  And one was exclusively for kids shows?  Notably, these weren’t just about American studios and English-language programming.  These were global, where a small network in Chile might plan its broadcast year, or a French studio might sell its first package of 52 half-hours and finally get on the map.  Both names you have heard of and lots you haven’t are in attendance.

My boss Randy explained what needed doing.  Some large color artwork for Brothers Flub was to be mount spray mounted on foam core.  Presumably at a Sunbow table at one of the conventions there would be an easel to display it.  Thinking back, studios probably brought (or rented?) TV/VCRs, and certainly brought VHS tapes, but I doubt they had portable video projectors.  So besides small printed ad slicks and press kits, an old-fashioned sign might be the best way to attract eyeballs.  Two other interns handled this, and I think they did the work in the back stairwell that no one ever used, probably not known for its proper ventilation.

I don’t recall what the other task was for, but it may have been a network or the Los Angeles office.  But I got to do it, and I was thrilled to be working with Sunbow assets, even if Randy said something like “It’s not a big deal/it doesn’t have to be perfect,” meaning the stakes were not high and no one was actually relying on my ability to color match.  It had something to do with communicating what colors the main characters in Brothers Flub were, and the client/end user/mystery person was then going to… print out their own version?  Better know what the paint colors would look like as a broadcast signal?  I don’t remember.  But for some reason, it wasn’t being done with actual paint or the code numbers for animation cel vinyl paint.  I had some oversized Brothers Flub printout, and was matching the colors as best I could to Pantone colors.  But instead of comparing to a Pantone chart and writing down the color codes, I had a Pantone swatch keychain with plastic chips for each color, and Randy had encouraged me to cut a small piece from each and glue it into the poster next to its analog.  I think the New York office lacked some prop for doing this the correct way.  I didn’t understand why it was okay to ruin this presumably expensive item, but Randy was unphased.

And so I did, a little distressed that I was chopping up a fancy Pantone tool because we were missing some other tool, and disappointed that this job was not important.  On the other hand, I was happy to be doing something rather that sitting in the intern room, and I could somewhat put to use the small bit of color theory I had taken two years prior.  I mean, not just anyone could match color swatches, right?

There were two other main tasks for production interns, one which led me to treasure I had seen on my tour, and the other that led to buried treasure the likes of which I could not imagine.

What were they?  Tune in next time to find out!  [Next Part]

[Part 1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]

Leave a comment

Filed under Prehistory

I Was a Teenage Sunbow Intern – Part 7

Title card for Tim Finn blog post about Sunbow Entertainment animation internship

In our last episode ([Part 1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]), Tim got the lay of the land of the Sunbow office in New York City.

I remember very little of my first day.  On my dad’s advice, Nick and I had taken the subway from our apartment on Roosevelt Island into Union Square the day prior.  A practice run.  I was nervous about being late, nervous about getting lost on the subway, and nervous about sweating too much.  New York was hot that summer.  So were the subway platforms.  The office was suitably air-conditioned, though.

I didn’t wear a tie, and probably did not wear a button-up.  Everyone dressed casually – no jackets, no ties – but nicely.  A few people wore blue jeans.  My t-shirt was probably a solid color, and I was two years into growing my Jesus hair, which is to say that that June I looked like “Vs.”-era Eddie Vedder.  With a beard, but no moustache, my preference for three years of college.

In addition to meeting everyone who was paid to be at Sunbow, I also met those who weren’t – the other interns.  Whom I hated.  But not for any good reason.  That was just an unfortunate chip on my shoulder.  I was a RISD Animation student.  I went to a fancy art school, I was a decent animator, I was working four days a week, and I knew much about Sunbow’s past product – I was a fan.  I was going to be the best intern of all that summer, and the best intern Sunbow had ever had.  The other interns, three gals and a guy, were… just… somebodies.  They were probably Communications majors, or Business students, or they knew someone who knew someone who had casually said “Oh, you should work at that company where so-and-so works.”  They weren’t art students (actually, one was), and they weren’t fans.  They couldn’t care as much as me.  So I didn’t get too close, didn’t make conversation, and didn’t make friends.

I was jealous that they were there, that they might perform a task better, or that they would be asked to do something first.  Fortunately, there was very little for us to do.  Sunbow had, in fact, too many interns that summer.  One or two days a week I was the only one there, so I would always at least look busy, but sometimes an intern or two would hang out in the intern room waiting for something to do.  I did that a little on my first day.

Then producers Randy and Tammy gave me the bible for The Brothers Flub, a tape of an episode, a script, and a suggestion to familiarize myself with the property.  I was thrilled.  This was an easy task, a nice way of easing into my two months as a Production Intern, and a peek behind the curtain that was both fun and informative.  Even though I knew how animation was made, there were still loads of details to absorb from an actual show on actual television in an actual studio.  The sample dialogue on each character’s bible page, the episode summaries – paragraphs outlining potential half-hours should a network approve the bible, model designs for one-off props that would only appear in a single episode, or a background packet of interiors for the main locations.

Brothers Flub was a lot like Futurama, although it predates the latter by two years.  Since it was airing on Nickelodeon, and I had no affinity for that network and wasn’t 8-years old, Brothers Flub wasn’t my speed.  But it was cute, harmless, mildly distracting, and crafted by talented hands.  In the show, two cartoonish couriers (Fraz and Guapo) deliver packages to differently themed planets, getting into trouble and learning lessons.  One is organized and worries, while the other is a messy buffoon.  Characters and attitudes are cartoony and silly as if made by Klasky Csupo.

Dave Bennett storyboard panel from The Brothers Flub "On My Case," Tim Finn's G.I. Joe blog

In watching a tape, I was hoping to hear G.I. Joe alumni – voice talent like Bill Ratner, Michael Bell, and Mary McDonald-Lewis.  No such luck, although Charlotte Rae (The Facts of Life) was Fraz and Guapo’s boss, a fun surprise.  I didn’t watch any whole episodes after that, and only saw bits throughout the summer, but Michael Bell does contribute to at least episode 5A, “Flub, Flub, & Away,” as Very Evil Man on a super-hero themed planet, his raspy delivery unmistakable.

If Production Intern Tim didn’t draw anything, what did he do?  Tune in next time to find out!

Leave a comment

Filed under Prehistory

I Was a Teenage Sunbow Intern – Part 3

Close up of Sunbow Entertainment logo for Tim Finn's blog entry about his internship

In our last episode ([Part 1] [Part 2]), Tim called Sunbow.  Would he call again?

In February or March, I called back, and Randy asked about an interview.  Hopping on the Greyhound from Providence to NYC was no big deal, so soon I was in the tiny lobby of 100 Fifth Avenue.  It was grey with dark walls, and just big enough for one black desk with a security guard and a company directory of white letters and floor numbers behind him, and two elevators.  It was not grand, but it was a tall building in Manhattan on a busy street a block from Union Square and a subway station, so much of that New York mystique was intact.

The elevator opened onto the fifth floor, a tiny annex with a glass wall that separated the elevator foyer from the office itself.  On that glass was the Sunbow logo (I grew up with Sunbow Productions, the company was now called Sunbow Entertainment), and through it was visible the receptionist’s desk in front of two orange walls that blocked the rest of the office, a load-bearing column (also orange or perhaps magenta) and two hallways.  One went right and the other straight.  This was the corner of the entire floor, and the rest of Sunbow stretched out unseen behind the receptionist’s desk, behind her orange walls.  Sunbow had moved a few times since its founding, and as of 1998, took up just one floor, though the entire floor, here.  The receptionist was nice.  I was nervous.  Private offices with views of Manhattan lined the edges of the whole space, while cubicles with half walls took up most of the middle and rear.  Walls had enlarged, framed stills from Sunbow’s TV shows – My Little Pony, The Tick, Salty’s Lighthouse.  No G.I. Joe or Transformers, though.  A glass-walled conference room took up the center.

Randy was busy, so Tamara Shear (Hi, Tammy), who I hadn’t spoken to yet, handled the interview.  She was number three in Production, and shared an office with Randy.  We sat in the conference room, which was nice since it offered some privacy – I would have been nervous if in Tammy’s office the phone had interrupted us – but it also added a level of severity to the proceeding.

It was also informal and pleasant.  I probably told Tammy about Animation at RISD, and she talked about the two shows Sunbow was making at the time – Salty’s Lighthouse, an educational show for The Learning Channel, and The Brothers Flub, a comedy for Nickelodeon.  And that the company had three departments – Development, Production, and Sales.  Plus an office on the West Coast where artwork was made.  This office, Sunbow East, generated no artwork, and the artists who worked for the company were not in New York.  This was disappointing to hear, but I probably also had the good sense to know that even being a traditional gopher would yield valuable experience, networking, and a resume entry.  Tammy asked to see my portfolio, which was… I dunno… good-not-great?  I think my drawings were fine for a sophomore, and the animation was probably cute enough to be memorable, but a CalArts character animator I was not.  Having issue #5 of my Transformers parody comic might have helped – it showed follow-through, even if fan-art was a kind of black mark.  I don’t recall my “Little Timmy Meets Tracks” film getting a reaction one way or the other, but I suspect that my resume looked good, and I was probably wearing a tie.  Those combined with the RISD name and a positive experience with That Other RISD Student who had interned (a note to students:  Don’t mess around with jobs and internships.  You’ll make it harder for the next person) must have left a good enough impression.

Tammy ended the interview by asking about my availability for the summer. I wasn’t sure since I lived in Rhode Island and would have to figure out housing in NYC, but we agreed that I would call at the end of the spring and fine tune my schedule.  But here two conflicting memories muddy the narrative, and I don’t know how to reconcile them.  On the one hand, I was actually being offered an internship, but it was in such a casual way that I didn’t fully comprehend it.  “When would you be able to start?” is different than “You’re hired.  When would you be able to start?” The first one, which is what I recollect, implies they’re not decided, so I was nervous I didn’t get the internship, and worried about it until I did call back in May and was certain the position was still waiting for me.   On the other hand, the interview had been a breeze, and rather than making me feel like I had to prove my worth or pass some test, Tammy and I had just chatted, and getting the internship felt obvious after such a great interview, like it was a foregone conclusion after the first minute.  So whether I walked out feeling anxious or cocky is lost to memory, but it was probably both.

Either way, I now had a plan for the summer.  As the end of the school year approached, I started talking with my friend Nick, who lived in New York City, about apartments.  If visiting New York made me nervous, finding a place and living there for three months was much worse.

Where would Tim live?  Tune in next time to find out!

[Click here for Part 4]

Leave a comment

Filed under Prehistory

I Was a Teenage Sunbow Intern – Part 2

In our last episode, Tim heard about Sunbow Entertainment’s summer internship!

New York still intimidated me when I visited, but I had been there several times recently, and part of the culture at RISD was that You Went To New York. I don’t necessarily mean professionally after graduation, but at some point you would visit because that’s the center of the art world, and it’s only 3 hours away, and the inertia began with the Freshman Foundation bus trip there a year prior.  Every freshman goes there for a day.  And I’d visit Nick there (Hi, Nick), friend and now G.I. Joe book editor, each year for his birthday.  (And have ever since.)  So being in the Big City was a little scary: it’s dirty, it has a reputation for crime, and if goes on forever — sidewalks horizontally, buildings vertically.  But it had some appeal as well.  Though I’ve always taken art and history museums for granted, even then I knew New York was THE PLACE for that.  And though I wasn’t yet thinking about life after college, I must have had some abstract notion of going to New York or Los Angeles when the time came.  Before Flash and the internet decentralized the animation production process, those were the two cities where you’d go if you wanted a job in the industry.  (Not entirely true, but I didn’t know anything as a college sophomore.)

I got a number for Sunbow from Dee or Mystery Person, and in the late fall or early winter of sophomore year, called.  I should take a moment here to point out that this very act is a nerve wracking one.  I don’t know what everyone’s relationships to telephones are anymore since cell phones are also HD video cameras and internet hubs in your pocket, and famous people are easy to find through e-mail and Facebook.  But before I was using these much, there was the paper letter and the cold call.  And telephoning an office filled with busy and important people, people who can easily say “No” and hang up on you in the fulfillment of a filmic cliché, was intimidating.  Plus it was long distance (*sigh,* I’m dating myself), so each attempt would cost ten cents or something.  Again, paying a dime for a call isn’t a big deal by itself, but it adds to the heaviness of the act.

I had been good at public speaking (thank you, grade school), and had made a few important phone calls before, so this was doable.   Randy Koshinskie, #2 in the Production department took the call.  Randy was warm and kind (Hi, Randy), and while I didn’t know it at the time, in 8 months he’d be my boss.

The trick was to get in and out quickly.  Introduction, say something nice about the company, or at least prove I knew something about it, express an interest, and then shut up.  So it probably went something like this:

“Hi, my name is Tim Finn.  I’m an animation sophomore at the Rhode Island School of Design.  Dee Boyd or Someone interned with you last summer and gave me this number.  I’m looking for internships this coming summer and would be interested if you have any available.”

Without nerding out or sucking up I demonstrated some knowledge of Sunbow’s library, and that I was a big fan of Sunbow’s Transformers and G.I. Joe cartoons. Randy seemed pleased with that, but in telling me a little about the company explained that Sunbow was very different than it had been in 1985, now making only a few shows and recently focusing on educational programming.  He asked if I had a portfolio.  I did.  At that point it consisted of a few figure drawings, some zoo animation drawings, a background or two, and a VHS (or U-Matic!) tape of my three Animation I projects.  (One of which depicted the Autobot Tracks transforming from Corvette mode to a robot and rescuing me from being lost in the barren wasteland of Washington state.  Which is either the cutest portfolio piece ever for a Sunbow internship application, or the most embarrassing.)    Also, the then-newest issue of Nick’s and my hilarious and now slightly embarrassing Transformers parody comic book.  My timeline is fuzzy, but I think this was before Christmas and Randy said I should call back in a few months when the Production department would start working out its summer internships.

Did Tim make that fateful call?  Tune in next time to find out!


Filed under Prehistory