MARCH 23: Jun Falkenstein


Jun Falkenstein is an experienced animation director, writer, and story artist. Jun grew up in Laguna Beach, California and graduated with a B.A. from USC’s School of Cinema-Television.


Throughout her professional career, Jun has worked at nearly every major studio and at many indie/smaller houses as well in either television or theatrical animation, including the Walt Disney Studios, Warner Brothers, Universal Pictures, Hanna-Barbera, Sony Pictures Animation, and Dreamworks. She made her television directorial debut in 1994 with the Hanna-Barbera TV movie, “Scooby Doo in Arabian Nights” and in 2000, she made her theatrical directorial debut with Walt Disney’s “The Tigger Movie,” and also earned a writing credit on the film. She has extensive development experience, having worked for many years in development and pre-production on both original and derivative properties at all of the above studios and more.


A prolific creator and storyteller across mediums, she created, wrote and directed an original Nickelodeon television short entitled “Kyle + Rosemary,” as well as being a two time Grand Prize winner of the Blizzcon machinima contest. Not content with visual story telling alone, Jun is also an accomplished song writer and musician, playing bass in various bands around Los Angeles.


Jun is currently the Supervising Director of the Monster High long form television series at Mattel, and is also currently working on a Young Adult title graphic novel for Scholastic Books.

TiggerMovie tiggerrooblizzardsitting tiger.mp4.Still001

kyle bedroom


21 thoughts on “MARCH 23: Jun Falkenstein

  1. Evan Tedlock says:

    It was a pleasure to have Jun come and have a chat with us this week. It was an interesting organic discussion and lead to some really relevant and good info. I think she really highlighted the jazz-like approach and feel of our industry in how you kind of make things up as you go along, you apply for jobs that you may or may not get, that some things just happen and other things were never meant to be. The most insightful part of the conversation was when she started to talk about the failures. It’s a less told story but certainly an important one. Curious George sounds like a nightmare and a terrible situation. I’ve heard some similar stories from a few people in the industry so I’m starting to get this dark picture of what can happen to someone regardless of their talent or artistic experience. I had no idea that you could just walk away from a project either. How empowering. That makes perfect sense and will be something I store in the back of my mind as I push further into this scene. If things are moving towards an impossible corner and I don’t see any redeeming quality in the project then I’ll remember that at the end of the day, you can just walk away. It was refreshing to hear a professional talk about their highs and lows in the industry and gives me hope that even though this career may suck sometimes, that in the end, the good projects and experiences make it all worth the trouble.


  2. ZOEY says:

    Jun is really a humble but powerful female animation director and artist. From her presentation, she shared diverse in-depth dimensions of TV animation production process. I really enjoyed seeing how the animation team constructs the piece step by step from camera movement and staging to lighting and polishing texture. They even think about the details of no reflection of vampire. Also, as a director, she needs to have strong sense of time and budget management. With limited resources, she really demonstrates how to push a project forward by finishing board with suitable techniques and efficacious methods.

    Besides, in the pitching of Blazing Samuri, very good timing and interesting gags, by reinventing Japanese Kendo, make people laugh and smile.

    I respect her spirits that she can deal with so many harsh conditions and survive. Those traumatic frustrations make her even stronger and more decisive. Like a riverbed’s stone, with constant washing from water and time, she becomes the smoothest and best stone. And this kind of stone can be the highest quality of inkstone which be able to create the best ink and works.


  3. Erik Dumas says:

    I feel like I got a lot more out of this seminar than many others. That’s probably because of two things: One, she’s a director, and I would like to be a director someday. And two, she’s the first person we’ve heard speak that has really put an emphasis on projects that don’t turn out to be successful. I’m sure every person we’ve heard from has stories like Jun’s, so it was refreshing to actually hear about them in detail.

    I think that how you deal with failure is far more important than how you deal with success, and failure is definitely something that we as students are going to experience when we first enter the industry. I for one would very much like to know how to get myself back on my feet after a failure, and I’m glad Jun was here to share some tips on how to do just that.


  4. Jane G. Kim says:

    Though I only got to stay for a part of the class, I’ve really enjoyed Jun’s talk and wished I could have stayed for the rest, especially reading the other responses. What I liked the most was her inclusion of pitches or scenes that didn’t make it through the final cut. Her discussions were straightforward, down-to-earth, and humble, making the industry more understandable. Failed ideas and pitches are things we will all have to become familiar with and it’s nice to hear more about them and how to handle them.


  5. Sagar Ramesh says:

    I really appreciated Jun’s candor during seminar last week, and enjoyed the work that she showed us. It was interesting to hear about her good and bad experiences with the industry, and I definitely picked up a lot from her personal stories.

    It was also interesting to see the breakdown on some of the pieces she showed us; seeing the storyboards materialize into a fully lit and rendered scene was very cool. The process says a lot about how much artists and animators think about every element in a scene, but Jun’s anecdotes and stories also emphasize the importance of moving fast and creating more work so that one failure doesn’t bog you down.

    Overall, I thought our discussion brought forth some really interesting points about creative work and the concept of failure, and I appreciate Jun taking the time to share her stories with us.


  6. Yu Yu says:

    Jun Falkenstein shared her precise experiences with us tonight. She is one of the first animation feature directors, but she is also very modest. It’s great that she shared not only the success in her career but also the things which were not going very well. I love the part that she talked about the pitch process. Although she didn’t get the case, it was still an interesting story to me. Maybe she can finish it as her own project someday. The experience about missing the job of Iron Giant is a great story, too. We have to do so many choices, and we only have a little time to do the things that we want to do. Maybe we will miss some very important chance, but the opportunity will come to you again if you still work hard in the same field.

    I don’t like the dolls of Monster High, but it is an interesting case that having the toys first, and create the film for them. If the characters are already there, will it be easier to make the animation? Maybe not. Because the world is limited to the design, and the audience is not a just audience anymore, they are also the buyers.


  7. David Nessl says:

    I can imagine the amount of patience and self control it must have taken to deal with the Curious George experience Jun talked about. The battle for artistic control is one aspect of film and animation production that I really don’t like, but it’s something anyone trying to be a director has to deal with. Everyone has their own idea of what a project should be or could be like and its very important to let the Director do her job.

    As a small time storyboard artist its always a challenge to dictate your contract and how much you should charge when it comes to working as a freelancer. I still have no idea how much to charge, and have definitely low balled a contract many times just trying to get work. It’s good to hear that the industry is looking for storyboard artists and I’m glad that Jun gave us a general idea of how artists are paid, yet it’s still a mystery how much you should negotiate for a weeks worth of work, or how many cells that requires? If anyone has worked for a large studio as a freelancer I’d be really interested in how much you made??


  8. Bryan Lee says:

    It was a pleasure to hear Jun Falkenstein speak this week and be able to share her personal experiences in the industry, both good and bad. It was enlightening to hear a realistic perspective of what goes on in the industry as well as hear Jun speak upon her past failures but her ability to continue moving forward and improve her art form which was truly inspiring. I found it really interesting to hear how behind the scenes there is a lot of politics that come into play as well as a good bit of luck which I find can be very stressful and intimidating but also quite exhilarating. Other than that, it was a cool learning experience to hear the production pipeline of creating animation on film as well as television shows as I’ve learned can be quite different. Also to see Jun’s work on Monster University and see how the animation comes from scratch to a storyboard to a fully fleshed out 3D animation was a great learning experience. Overall, I learned a lot from this talk and am glad Jun took the time to come speak to us.


  9. Katie Smith says:

    It was really wonderful having Jun Falkenstein come in and speak with us, I especially enjoyed how relaxed the conversation and presentation was. She was very open to us asking questions at any point, and she showed such an awesome array of artwork and material. I loved seeing the progression reels – from the story boards to the final. It was really incredible seeing how close the final animation was to Jun’s boards.

    Even though she has such an incredible background and list of projects under her belt, Jun’s so down to earth and easy to talk to. I thought it was really fantastic how she also discussed the projects that didn’t work out, and the things that weren’t as successful. I think it’s so easy for people to see all the successes and things that have worked out, and those stories of ‘yeah I did this and this happened and voila!!’, and it’s easy to forget or not listen to the stories of things that didn’t work out the way you hopes or wanted. It really is such a series of picking yourself up again, after something hasn’t worked out, and moving forward and believing in yourself and knowing in your heart that you’re getting to where you want to be. Working in this field is such hard work, where a big part of it is being able to pick yourself up and move forward when things go awry – you’ve got to have thick skin. I admire Jun a lot for talking specifically about these things, and what she’s dealt with in the past.

    I can’t wait to follow her work, and to read her graphic novel when it comes out!


  10. Yingzong Xin says:

    It was a really great presentation, Jun is a powerful and amazing director and animation artist . I really enjoyed the conversation with her, she was relaxed and really shared some experiences with us. The background and storyboard she did for animation were so beautiful and awesome. And I always like to see the progression of the animation, from storyboard to the final. It was also interesting to hear about the changing of ” Vampire should not has reflection in the eyes ” during the progression. That was inspiring for me a lot of knowing that we still can keep improving a story even after the storyboard , and never give up trying to make the story more detailed !
    Thanks to Jun, I even want to buy the dolls she designed! Can wait to see more of her works!


  11. Megan Simon says:

    Wow, what an incredible lecture from a true veteran in the industry. It was fascinating to hear a woman’s perspective as a director in creating animation and dealing with the politics of all that reasponsibility. I was truly inspired by Jun Fallenstein’s discussion about directing for television and television movies. It was interesting to hear how different the creative process is for studios who work for television, and how zen the director has to be accepting what comes due to the rapid pace of production. This sounds tilt stressful. Jun is certainly not new to high stress, and she was brave enough to discuss her failures. A true leader takes responsibility, but beyond that it was inspiring to hear how one overcomes such experiences and moves on with creativity. I loved Jun’s short, as a gamer I found it really funny and noticed a lot of the references. Jun is seriously my hero! So awesome to get to meet her!!


  12. Okike Franklin says:

    Apart from Jun’s brilliant presentation , I found her honesty and willingness to share her experience with us extremely comforting.
    It’s still crazy knowing that Jun hung around a lot of iconic cartoon creators and I pray she gets her idea made someday.


  13. Shang Song says:

    Jun is a good animation director, I also want to be an animation director, she share with us her experience, whether it is successful or not. This is very important, she told a young rookie should move towards what direction of animation (especially on the “Iron Giant” project, gave me great inspiration).

    I like the 3D animation “Monster High” in detail, such as “vampire eyes without reflection ghost”,great detail.

    I love most is that “love story Geek boy and the Gothic girl ” I love this story! No visual gimmicks, no stars, only the pure heart emotion, this is what I want to do.
    Thanks to Jun’s speech, she helped me a lot in the future path of career.


  14. Kun Xia says:

    It was a pleasure to have Jun Falkenstein speak about her pitching process for projects and experience working in the industry. Jun mentioned several idea to be aware when you work in a studio. One of them is animation projects can be great or terrible, the project produced by large studio usually are not very personal, when they aren’t personal works of art, other people having their say with the project. You are proud that the thing was
    completed, but always thinking of how it could have been better had you gotten to do it differently. I really like the short film Jun show at the end, “Kyle + Rosemary”, it had so much fun, I wish Jun has more opportunities to create works that close to her vision in the future.


  15. HyeonJeong Cho says:

    Everyone who was there can tell, I was INDEED enjoyed this seminar. I’ve never asked so many questions like this, and was so satisfied and thanked what she answered. I love the fact that it was just one gives seminar to the others, it was like a conversation, or discussion that audience can participated in too.

    I have to say that I also it was so helpful that she shared a ‘real’ experience that can be encountered to anyone in this industry, animation is fun but working on it as a profession is not always fun. She talked her story really calm manners so it sounded ‘okay’, but I can’t dare imagine how she got through all that hardship, and keeps strong. How strong person, and amazing artist she is. I really really respect her.

    Personally, it is fun to listen how people achieve their success but it is more inspiring to listen how they overcome when things are not going well for me. Thank you so much Jun for the seminar. Again, I really really really! enjoyed this seminar a lot!!!


  16. Sequoyah Madison says:

    Jun Falkenstein seems like such a genuine person and her presence gives me hope that you don’t need to have a flashy personality or a huge ego to be successful in Hollywood. I think it was very educational to hear not only of Jun’s successes but of her failures as well. It seems to me that the company made a serious mistake to employ a different director for Blazing Samurai because Jun’s interpretation of the script seems so much more powerful and meaningful than anything I would expect from a director that has no connection to the Japanese culture. And along those lines of company blunders, I bet Universal could kick themselves for not choosing Brad Bird’s script for the animated Curious George movie!

    Jun provided some amazing information about the state of the animation industry. She spoke about how there is a need for talented storyboard artists and some of the ways companies choose their directors – they will present a rough script and ask your vision or ask you to create a potential trailer for the show or ask for criticism and how to make the story stronger. She advised that it would be smart to take production classes to learn where to place the camera. One of the most interesting pieces of information she shared was the very real scenario where she must bargain and analyze which part of a shot she will give notes on. The budget and fast paced work environment of Mattel’s Monster High show only allows her to get one rewrite of script. In addition 70% of most animated shots must be passed forward in order to keep deadlines, which means the other 30% (where she can make notes) have to be the essential changes that must be made in order to communicate a scene clearly. Jun’s honesty about Hollywood being a being a playground for people who are winging it and just trying to make something funny, makes the prospect of breaking into the professional industry not as unbearably difficult as more students believe – not to say it’s not hard, it’s just the statement provides a glimmer of hope.

    I was extremely disappointed to hear they wouldn’t be making a Treasure Planet 2 because the original Treasure Planet stands out as one of my memorable childhood favorites. Why must everything be dictated by money?!


  17. Ruchia Masuko says:

    Jun Falkenstein’s presentation was one of the most informative, exciting, and effective presentations I have listened that I had inspired so much from her. She is very experienced, talented, has skilled, and she was very honest about telling her experience in her animation field and industry. Also even she has achieved and done so many important roles in animation movies, even directing, she is so humble, and I love the way she tells her story.
    I want to be like in the future.
    She is the first female animation feature film directer, which makes her a hero for us!
    I loved her personal work Kyle + Rosemary, it is very touching story to me. Her storytelling is very clear and simple, also strong and clover.
    I really wish if she could come to visit us again.


  18. Alan Grant says:

    It was a long time ago I leant Jun my super-8 movie camera with the ability to do single frame exposures (for use in animation). Her talent has taken her a long way since, and it is good to see her sharing her knowledge with others!
    Alan Grant

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Joe Stucky says:

    Very wonderful presentation of information. An organic discussion of Jun’s experience combined with questions asked from seminar attendees looking for advice from her perspective. This was an enjoyable experience for me on two levels. Level1: I see through Jun’s experience that she deals with real issues of the animation industry, and knows first hand how to bounce back from them. Level 2: I think Jun’s ability to bounce back from some of her experiences that were more negative has a lot to do with her dedication to her craft. I really appreciate her storyboard sequence that she pitched. Blazing Samurai. So funny and the timing was so well done.


  20. Jing Huang says:

    Jun’s presentation intense and full of useful information of how commercial TV animation works. She shared abundant valued experiences with us. I enjoy the production process. She showed us the vampire film’s process which is super powerful to convince us how to fix a draft idea to a mature and completed film. Since we do our own projects, we were always suffered in fixing process. We often has a talent idea but can not achieve it in a good way, her experience showed that we need more patience to fix and redo the unclear part and make the film logical and smooth.

    Thanks Jun for this interesting and useful presentation!


  21. Min Shi says:

    I really appreciated Jun’s seminar, really enjoyed the work that she showed us. Very amazing to hear about her good and bad experiences. Falkenstein talked about her pitching process for projects and her experience working in the industry which I really enjoyed.
    Looking forward to see her next film.


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