SHELBY MARTIN Art Department Production Coordinator
Can you tell us a little about Turbo?
Turbo is a story about a garden snail whose ultimate dream is to win the Indy 500. Through a freak accident he becomes extremely fast and ends up in the hands of a taco man. Together they set out on a journey to make Turbo’s dream come true.
And what exactly does the art department do on Turbo?
The Art Department designs everything you see in the film. We are comprised of a variety of artists who specialize in the design and/or painting of the characters, environments, and vehicles; all of whom are led by the Production Designer, Art Director, and Lighting Director.
Did you always want to work in animation?
I always enjoyed animated films growing up, but initially started out on a different path to train marine mammals. I even worked in the animal training department at SeaWorld San Diego for a year before switching my major and minor at Point Loma Nazarene University. I ended up majoring in media communications with an emphasis in film production.
That’s completely different from animation! How did you end up at DreamWorks Animation?
My first time visiting the DreamWorks campus was during my junior year and I was instantly drawn in. I came here to interview a Point Loma alum who was working in the Final Layout department. The people I met were nice, the campus was very beautiful, and I found the process of animation to be so intriguing. My school didn’t offer any animation classes so I didn’t really know anything about how an animated film was made. Looking back, a big part of why I applied for an internship at the studio was simply curiosity. I ended up receiving an internship in Show Development department and that’s how my journey here at DreamWorks began.
And eventually you started working on Turbo?
I actually have had sort of a unique experience where I have been able to see Turbo change and progress from the early stages of visual development all the way through full production. There were many shows that I was helping out during my internship and one of those was Turbo. At the time it wasn’t in production yet and we only had about 3 or 4 visual development artists under the creative direction of director David Soren. After my internship I stayed in the Show Development department for another year and was the production assistant. While in the department I continued to help out on Turbo, which quickly became one of my favorite shows to be a part of. A year later the show went into full production. At that time, I was asked to be the production coordinator in the art department. Currently I am still on Turbo and have been a part of the show for over 3 years which has been such an amazing experience that I wouldn’t change for anything.
Did the production crew know that you raced cars?
Even though I instantly gravitated towards Turbo once I knew it was centered around racing, I wasn’t that vocal about why I liked it so much. Within a month or so of being at DreamWorks the news of my racing background got out to David (Soren) and the Turbo team. I think we may have been in a director art check-in when one of the artists asked me if I raced; I answered yes and by the next day it seemed like everyone knew.
Can you tell us more about your background in car racing?
I was born into a family with a passion for racing. Being raised in the small town of Galesburg, Illinois there wasn’t a whole lot to do. When I was younger, I enjoyed watching my Dad work on his stock car and going with family to watch him race at the speedway. He raced for over 10 years and rarely lost a race; winning just came naturally to him. When I was about 6 years old, my Dad stopped racing and instead started promoting the raceway. At this time I was at the raceway 4 or 5 days a week with him, just helping out and doing whatever I could. It was a whole family event where my Mom, Brother, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunts, Uncles, and friends all helped out.
At the age of 8 my Dad let me enter my first go-cart race. I was the only girl racing with a bunch of boys, but after the nerves subsided I really enjoyed it. When I turned 14, I got in my first full size figure 8 car. I remember Dad would take me out to the grass lot behind the old shopping center where we would practice and he would teach me how to drive the big cars. We would be out there until the sun went down, he could hardly get me out of the car, I loved it that much. I was 16 when I entered my first figure 8 race. By this point racing was a big family affair. For the next 6-8 years my Dad, younger brother, and I all raced figure 8 cars together. Currently my brother and Dad continue to race and when I can get back home in the summer months I race as well.
Has your racing background helped you while working on Turbo?
Yes, most definitely. I have been surrounded by auto racing all my life which has left me with an understanding and appreciation for the sport. Knowing the ins and outs of racing has been particularly useful working in the Art Department as sometimes I have even been a “go to” for some racing or automotive questions. Overall, it’s been pretty cool to see the Art team design characters that I can resonate with in a world that I have lived in.
That’s really awesome!
It really is; it makes me want to come to work every day. DreamWorks is awesome within itself, but being able to combine animation with my love for racing I couldn’t really ask for anything else.
Any advice for anyone who wants to go into animation, entertainment or car racing?
Don’t give up and don’t be afraid of change. If you have a love for something, then consistently pursue it. While racing is something that has always been a part of me, Animation was something I had no idea would be. Turbo is the perfect fit and has been my “dream movie” to work on.