Academy Student Brett Magnuson Lands Internship at Disney
Getting a behind-the-scenes look at Walt Disney Animation Studios is something few people
experience. If you’re a motivated Academy of Art University Animation student, however, you can
obtain an internship that would give you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to actually work
alongside Disney animators. This past summer, Brett Magnuson spent two months in Burbank, CA
at a paid internship for Walt Disney Studios.
Brett had always been a fan of movies, both live action and animation. He saw a potential
career in animation and decided to study computer arts at a university in his native state of
Nebraska. While he developed various design skills, he didn’t have the opportunity to take any
After seeing some Academy of Art University Animation students’ work online, Brett decided to
enroll in the Graduate School of Animation. Within his classes, he found an inspirational
environment made up of supportive instructors and peers.
“One of the great things about animation is that you learn from the people around you,” Brett
Academy Animation students have the unique chance to take classes taught by Pixar animators
and Brett found all of these classes to be incredibly beneficial. Additionally, he learned that
acting is a crucial element to animation through Michael Carroll’s Acting for Animators class.
“If you’re going to be a good animator, you have to be a good actor,” Brett advised. “Acting
and artistry are going to set you apart.”
Brett discovered the Disney internship from a flyer posted on campus. A representative from
Disney came to the Academy to give a presentation and look over a few student reels. Brett had the
luck of being one of the few whose reel was reviewed. Soon after, he got a call back and he was off
As an intern, Brett couldn’t actually work on features, but he could do acting tests on
characters that were never fully developed. He also had a chance to observe the Disney pipeline and
work with a mentor. He also collaborated with the other interns who were from different animation
schools. Working with the other interns gave Brett some insight into other animation philosophies.
“You come back and feel like you have an extra bag of tricks with you,” he said.
Brett encourages other animation students to take control of their education at the Academy
and seek knowledge wherever they can. He also advocates fellow students to show their work as much
“I think Academy students should really put themselves out there because you never know what’s
going to happen,” he said. “The worst is that you don’t get a callback!”