Scholar Q&A: Joaquin Baldwin, "Frozen"
2006 Graduate Scholarship alumnus Joaquin Baldwin recently won a prestigious award for his work. It has to do with movies and you probably watched the ceremony. Any takers? Try the Oscars.
Joaquin was part of the Disney team responsible for propelling Disney to win its first ever Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film of the Year with “Frozen,” which grossed over $1 billion in the box office internationally as of March 10.
Raised in Paraguay, Joaquin received a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Graduate Scholarship after completing his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Columbus College of Art & Design in 2006. He added a UCLA Master of Fine Arts to his CV before landing a job at Disney.
We recently caught up with JKCF former Scholar and Oscar-winning animator Joaquin Baldwin. Here’s what he has to say:
You just won an Oscar for Best Animated Film in “Frozen.” What is winning an Oscar like, besides indescribable?
Well, our whole team won it—it takes hundreds of us to get the film done. It’s freaking amazing. It’s so good to be a part of the studio at this particular time. It’s the first time Disney has gotten a Best Animated Feature Oscar—it’s always been Pixar or DreamWorks to get it. It’ll open up a lot of possibilities for our future here.
How many animators are involved in this type of feature film? Did you find yourself in any management or leadership roles?
There are about 500 people involved, in different departments. I’m part of the layout department, where we do the cinematography, camera work, temp animation for timing, and work with editorial to pick the best shots for the film. We are about 16 or so in our team. In “Frozen” I had a lot of extra responsibilities, but I wasn’t in a leadership role yet. For the next projects however, I am, but I can’t discuss that yet. 🙂
Growing up, your mother was an environmental activist and your father an artist. Do you think having parents with those unique passions and careers had anything to do with your creative abilities?
Definitely, they both pushed me into fully exploring arts and sciences. I think that one without the other wouldn’t have been as productive for my career. You have to know the tools, but also have the heart to tell the story you want to tell, and also have the self-awareness to know when things are going off track. Thinking with the scientific method in mind is always important for me, and my approach to art always carries a more rational path.
What did going to college and graduate school teach you? For someone with such a unique job, why did you find it necessary to go to college at all?
Undergrad was great to get a full education on general arts, with random things I would normally not have experienced—like pottery, or poetry writing, or different types of art history. It didn’t teach me much about animation though, just some basics. At the graduate level, the experience became more about having my own time to work on big projects, meaning doing one animated short every year. I could’ve gotten a job right away without going through grad school, but it wouldn’t have been such a cool job, and I would’ve never experienced the excitement of having my own films and going to tons of film festivals. You don’t need a degree to get a job in the film industry, but the time spent in school can be used to develop something of your own early on, rather than having to do someone else’s work for years before you get a shot at directing your own projects.
What else should our readers know about you, Joaquin?
I’m also exploring a lot outside of animation. I do a ton of photography and 3D printing in my free time and like to travel and explore as much as possible. For people who want to check out my work, you can find it here: