Study Abroad Unlocks Career in Animation, Life Overseas for CAHSS Alumna
Kelsey Briding is now working in Madrid, Spain, as an FX production coordinator.
Kelsey Briding (BA ‘20) has long been enamored by travel.
She was born in Tokyo, has lived in six countries and — so far — traveled to 19. While those early, formative experiences started her on a path toward adventure, she wasn’t initially convinced studying abroad would be in her plans at the University of Denver.
But she is sure glad it was.
Attending the University of Westminster in London for a semester helped affirm that living overseas and working in the animation field after graduation could be a reality, she said. Her time interning at the Unanico Group in London was especially impactful.
“I feel like it really set me on course for everything. I mean, I absolutely fell in love with it; I made phenomenal connections [at my internship], I just felt really useful. I thought originally that unless you knew how to draw, you couldn't work in animation,” she said.
Briding was initially drawn to DU in part because she wanted to be a neurologist or a neurological research assistant. She also had a friend who attended DU and offered to give her a tour, where she spoke with such love for the study abroad program and its place in the university’s community.
Now, almost three years after graduation, Briding is working in Madrid, Spain, as an FX production coordinator at The SPA Studios.
“FX is something that I think not a lot of people know or understand in animation, but it is beautiful and huge and such a huge part of what you see on screen,” Briding said.
Prior to that she spent a year and a half working in Helsinki, Finland, as a production coordinator for the Nickelodeon show “Best and Bester.”
Briding credits the people she met and networked with during her time abroad that offered crucial connections and, as a result, some degree of certainty as she graduated amid a global pandemic.
“I didn't realize how important it would be in my life, but truly my study abroad experience was what has gotten me to my job today because that internship I had was the absolute key moment and that's what has unlocked all of this for me,” she said.
The Big Turning Point
While Briding has always loved movies — admittedly it was her true passion — she wasn’t sure she could create a viable future pursuing film as a career.
That is until she discovered that DU had an entire theatre program and offered dual degrees, meaning she didn’t have to put all her eggs in one basket.
Briding first chose biology and film as her dual degrees, but once she started to jump into film and had internship opportunities, she saw the potential and chose instead to study theatre and film with a minor in leadership.
Some of Briding’s theatre and film opportunities at DU included being a hair and makeup teaching assistant, working in SFX makeup design which included designing custom blood bags and rigs for the university’s production of “Killer Joe” and she was lead film makeup artist for Project DU F.I.L.M, among others.
After graduating in May 2020, Briding reached out to the Unanico Group — where she got her start in animation — and worked remotely as a production assistant with the goal of moving to London once the COVID-related travel restrictions were lifted.
Briding felt very fortunate to be where she was at that time as much of the film industry was completely shut down.
For animation production, all you needed was a desk, a computer, and a drawing tablet, and voice actors could work remotely, she said.
“I worked for them on a lot of really, really interesting projects and then finally it just kind of caught up to us … November 2020 the funding for the studio got cut just with COVID and everything and so then all of us were laid off, which was definitely heartbreaking,” Briding said.
She then got the opportunity to work in Finland on the Nickelodeon series after a former supervisor from her London internship contacted her. That eventually led her to where she is now in Spain.
Without those connections forged during her time at DU, Briding may have been in a very different situation upon graduation during a very uncertain time.
“Take absolutely every chance you can with internships, sign up for every club at school, reach out to every person possible … Because I think it all adds up,” she said.