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!