Drew Tolman

Drew Tolman

The need to be creative is something you are born with. Drew Tolman , Faculty , The Art Institute of Pittsburgh — Online Division

Drew is an animation producer with over 15 years of experience making family blockbusters in both development and production for Fox, Disney, Universal and Warner Bros. She holds a M.A. in Film Studies from UMiami, Coral Gables and a B.A. in Communication from UMass, Amherst.

Defining Moment:

The need to be creative is something you are born with. As a child, I was always telling and writing stories. I would give stories to my family members as gifts. Everyone said I was very creative, that I had a huge imagination, so I always knew it to be true. As a child, you believe what people say about you and you often believe that for the rest of your life. The single most powerful ingredient to growing a successful creative is simply encouragement!

Weaving Professional Background:

Hearing my teacher’s real-world stories was one of my favorite parts of film school, so I always share what I’m currently working on and find fun ways to weave in my own anecdotal stories from my 15+ years making family blockbuster movies and television and, sometimes, I even share my old teacher’s stories as well.

Assignment that Exemplifies Approach:

My favorite class to teach is Pre-Production Team and Production team where we create a 1-minute short in just 11 weeks! It mirrors the actual production pipeline like an intensive boot camp where we get to experience all of the challenges and ultimate success of production!


Team projects are the most fun for me and producing with remote teams has become the norm in animation production, so it’s great to help the students discover ways around all the challenges that remote work presents and teach them how streamlined it can actually be.

Important Advice:

Animation is a very diverse field and we introduce you to all of it in this program, but to land that important first job, you need to pick just one thing, one aspect to launch your career with. Concentrate all your efforts into that one thing with laser focus and rock it! You need to present a really strong portfolio in one area to get those first jobs. There are no openings for mediocre.