We had the good fortune of connecting with Apoorva Gaitonde and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Apoorva, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I’m originally from a beautiful beach state called Goa in India. I come from a family of engineers and doctors. I have been passionate about drawing and dance ever since I was a child. So my mum got me enrolled into classes that I would take after school. It was there that I discovered my first love for drawing. There wasn’t a lot of exposure in the field of animation where I grew up, and most of my peers were taking up art more as a hobby than a career option. Just like the others, I also planned to go the traditional route, and pursue art on the side. However, I watched Finding Nemo when I was 16, and fell in love with how the underwater world was designed in that movie. By that time I had also realized that animation could potentially be a career option. I then pursued an undergraduate degree in animation at an art school in India, and that was my foray into this field.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
With my international background, I bring experience and a deep appreciation for different cultures. I believe that diverse perspectives can only enhance and help develop great stories. Fortunately, I had supportive parents who encouraged me to pursue a field that was not considered financially stable because the perception back home was that animation or any art field isn’t a stable career option. Moving away from home was hard for me. Being an introvert, it took me some time to make new friends and adjust to hostel life. My experience as a student helped me to understand the basics of animation, but my real learning came from working in the industry. After finishing my undergrad, I worked at a few animation studios in India in various departments. The last studio I worked at required me to work as a storyboard artist for an animated TV show. We were on extremely tight deadlines, and soon I realized that I was lacking some of the fundamental principles and understanding of film language. So I decided to pursue my master’s degree at AAU in San Francisco and work on my craft before working again in the industry. Since I graduated in 2019, I’ve been fortunate to have worked as a Story Artist/Revisionist at studios like Nickelodeon, Wild Canary Animation and Rooster Teeth. I’m really excited about the 2D short film that I’m currently directing based on my thesis project. I’m collaborating with some really talented artists from grad school. I hope to finish the short film by 2022.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
LA is packed with tons of things to see and do. I’d start by taking them to Portos, one of LA’s most famous cuban bakeries and try their delicious potato ball and mango mousse cake. The Grove is another place to try out good food along with a great shopping and entertainment experience. No trip to LA is complete without visiting the famous Hollywood Sign. I’d take my friend to Griffith Observatory, and then try out some of the trails that lead to some great views of the sign. I’ll ensure to include a trip to Universal Studios and the Warner Bros. Studio tour. I will make sure they stop at the Wizarding world of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. Next, I’d take them for a walk on Santa Monica pier and Venice beach. I’ll wrap up the trip by taking them to downtown LA and probably see a show at the Disney Concert Hall.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are several women in my life who have been pillars of strength in my journey. Starting with my mother who to this date, is a great listener and never fails to provide a word of encouragement when needed. My director from grad school, Sherrie Sinclair who went above and beyond to help me break in to this competitive industry. I participated in a Women in Animation mentorship program, where I was lucky to meet 3 more incredible women. Andrea Goh helped me land my first gig in the industry. My mentors, Nicole Grindle and Mitra Shahidi helped me build a strong portfolio, and are always available to offer their advice, whenever I reach out. I feel humbled and grateful to have so many incredible women who have supported my career, and I hope to continue to learn and grow from them in the future.