Animator’s years of effort paid off with his own TV show

Sandro Corsaro, a USC alumnus, spent more than four years developing the short film that would land him the showrunner position on his original animated series, the Emmy-nominated Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil.

Talk to him today, and he’ll tell you that he never regretted a single moment of those years.

Prior to graduating from USC, where he majored in fine arts and animation, Corsaro started his professional career through a yearlong internship on the hand-drawn/CGI-hybrid film The Iron Giant.

Although he would become a member of the Disney team in 2006, Corsaro started out in creative development for Warner Bros. Animation, MTV Networks and Crest Digital.

Before giving his pitch for Kick Buttowski, Corsaro served as creative director for Disney Online, where he oversaw initiatives across the company’s flagship website.

Assorted campaigns included bolstering Disney’s online franchise, revamping the site and developing content. Corsaro would also publish two books — The Flash Animator and Hollywood 2D Digital Animation: The New Flash Production Revolution — to further promote his distinct animated style and overriding dream.

Today, Corsaro is the executive producer of his own show, one he worked hard to get green lighted Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil is the No. 1 series in total viewers for Disney XD. The show exhibits the signature style of flash animation, complemented by a suitable dose of 3-D environments.

For Corsaro, the development and subsequent success of his deft and zippy animated romp is nothing short of life-affirming.

“For as long as I can remember, I have always loved to draw. I was constantly coming up with new characters and inventing stories around them,” Corsaro said. “Taking what started out as a singular playful sketch to a massively collaborative TV show for Disney has certainly represented an element of that childhood fulfillment.”

But let us not forget what it took to get to that fulfillment. Kick Buttowski represents the culmination of many years of tireless work, not overnight success.

In the film industry, one must be prepared to toil and struggle before their ultimate goals materialize. More often, it is not that they face career cataclysm or intolerable diversity, but simply a limbo period between a “9-to-5” entry-level position and a coveted creative role.

“When starting out, you have to be willing to do jobs that might be below your immediate goals,” Corsaro said. “As your career evolves, you can begin building credibility through measured conviction.”

Despite the potential monotony of the first post-college job, it is essential that those in the entertainment world show some foresight and begin to see the value of current circumstances in regard to long-term aspirations. Too often, filmmakers forget how some of the greatest men have had some of the humblest beginnings and how it is counterproductive to compare the prolific careers of young millionaires to their own.

When filmmakers start to compare themselves to rapidly successful strangers, it unfairly diminishes their respectively significant accomplishments, especially when they take place over a long period of time. In definition, a career is based on the idea of longevity.

Filmmakers are propelled from one place to the next by a series of unpredictable occurrences and must simply be prepared when that golden opportunity arrives. Of course, at times, it’s almost impossible to know which one of many short films, drawings or industry contacts is going to ignite that long-term career, but in that uncertainty should be love for the process.

“When you have a creative idea, there is no mathematic formula or business plan to objectively distinguish success from failure,” Corsaro said. “On the onset, all you have is your instinct and confidence.”

For Corsaro, the four and a half years that he spent developing the short film that inspired Kick Buttowski was born out of a desire to perfect his craft and make sure it was done right. It did not represent “lost years.” In a practical sense, Corsaro was not working exclusively on the short but maintained steady income elsewhere — he was not a starving artist wasting away on a dream. And in a more metaphorical sense, those years each represented a separate but equally telling exploration into a creative soul.

“Certainly those moments can be incredibly lonesome, as you don’t have a team of trusted people to bounce ideas off of — so you go with what you and you alone think is best for that story or design,” Corsaro said. “[But] as challenging as that time was for me on a number of levels, it turned out to be one of the most treasured experiences of my creative career.”

After years of working on the project, Corsaro was able to see it come to fruition, and it was worth every year.

You have to love the journey.

Brian Ivie is a sophomore majoring in cinema-television critical studies. His column, “Dreammaking,” runs Tuesdays.

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