Alumni Stories: Stephanie Keider

Alumni Stories: Stephanie Keider

Stephanie Keider received her B.A. in English and Child Development Psychology in 2011. She now works in feature film production at DreamWorks Animation in Los Angeles. We talked to her about working on movies such as The Boss Baby, and how this work connects to being an English major.

 

Could you explain your role at DreamWorks Animation?

I currently work as a Story, Editorial, and Script Coordinator at DreamWorks. I help manage the process of turning the script and story boards into the final animated product. My team and I work with the director and producer to create the best version of the story they want to tell.  In addition to brainstorming story ideas with our team, I manage the script itself and any updates and changes to the document and dialogue throughout the duration of the production. 

What is one of the projects you particularly enjoyed working on?

I previously worked on the feature film The Boss Baby as well as a television holiday special for the film Trolls. Both projects offered an opportunity to be part of a great team of very creative people. I now work on the next How to Train Your Dragon film, which is a lot of fun since I’m now in a role that allows me to be more involved with the beginning of the storytelling process. I’ve really enjoyed getting to discuss plot points, character arcs, and overall narrative structure for the film. It’s an opportunity to put into practice the same English and writing-based skills that I loved using as an English major undergrad. 

As an undergraduate student at UC Davis, did you realize your English major could be valuable in the entertainment industry?

I’ve always loved storytelling and I was drawn to the animated film industry in particular because of its massive influence on children and how they model themselves. Creating a compelling story for both kids and adults is a really unique challenge, and I wanted to be part of telling stories for families to discuss together. Having been a Child Development Psychology and English major at Davis, it seemed to me that my interests overlapped with storytelling for kids. Many of my classes focused on cultivating a strong understanding of a story and then developing a compelling and articulate argument. I would say that I use this strategy in my daily work even more than I thought I might when I was an undergrad. 

Do you have any additional advice for current students interested in working in the entertainment industry?

As an undergrad, I thought that the communication and analysis skills that being an English major cultivates would be a great fit for the film industry, but I worried my degree wouldn’t be an immediate fit in the film industry. I’m happy to report that this was not at all the case— a lot of folks in film come from very different educational backgrounds, and I think that my English degree has been invaluable for my career. I’m able to contribute to storytelling discussions in a meaningful way because of the skills I developed while an undergrad in the English department. Most of what I do is creative problem solving, analyzing stories, and communicating ideas with a team. My advice would be to try to find ways to get involved with filmmaking and storytelling through internships or volunteer projects and see what aspects interest you most. If you enjoy working as part of a team in a creative environment, you might really like working in animated film.

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