USC Alums In Bizness at Pixar

Enjoying From Joy to Pixar? Through the blog, you’ve met voice guru Kevin Reher and seen inside the minds of Piper and Dory creators Alan Barillaro and Angus MacLane. Now meet Biz Thorsen, a sunny Pixar employee with a few tips for emerging students with entertainment aspirations!

You’re a proud Trojan alumna with an SCA degree – did your experience at USC prepare you for any part of your current Coordinator role? 

Totally! My experience making student films at SCA and working at Trojan Vision taught me how to work how to be resourceful, and how to manage deadlines, and how to coordinate a production team — all crucial skills I need to do my job as a production coordinator at Pixar.

Do you run into alums in the workplace and does that “Trojan Family” thing hold true for you?

I’ve had the pleasure of working with a handful of alums at Pixar and at my previous jobs. I met a lot of Trojans working in Los Angeles especially, so it feels extra special to meet other alums in the Bay Area and at Pixar where there are fewer far and in between. 

Would you recommend working at a small company before tackling a big brand like Pixar?

In the same way that a professor can make or break your experience in a college course, I truly believe that your boss and direct co-workers can make or break your experience at a company. It’s important to keep that in mind when looking for a job – interviewing is a two-way street.

What makes an ideal collaborator in your space?

The best collaborators are honest, positive, and smart. Honest, meaning it’s important to be realistic and upfront when coordinating deadlines and deciding what is and isn’t possible. Positive, meaning the people I love working with always try to answer with “Yes, and…” And smart: self-explanatory! Production is an ever-changing beast and needs the best and brightest minds to solve problems quickly and effectively.

If you were to go home and say, “Today was a perfect day at work,” what would that look like?

Between the emotional energy artists pour into the creative side, and the technological feats our engineers and technical directors accomplish every day, it is extremely rare for production to go off without a hitch. But what makes the work fun and fulfilling is being able to solve the problems with a strong team. Moving work through Art revolves around Art Reviews with our director. I love coming home after a great Art Review. A lot of work goes into preparing it, and it’s a good feeling when the director approves work to move forward, or brings clarity to something we found confusing.

You’re currently working on Cars 3. Based on the spirit of the team and what you’ve seen behind the scenes – what can we expect from the movie?

The Cars 3 crew has inspired me – as a team, they see a challenge and say “Let’s figure out how to do this,” instead of running away from it. I think you’ll see the same attitudes from the characters in the film, because after all, characters who give up don’t have a story to tell!
Fight On, Biz!
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