Monday, February 28, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions #1

“How do I get a job at an Animation Studio?”

Be persistent and keep a good attitude.

I promise you will not be the least talented person at any studio you are applying at. Whether or not there is a job available has very very little to do with you personally and everything to do with a studio’s production needs. Getting hired is not about the being the best or the most talented, it’s really just a matter of timing and persistence.

I have best heard Animation Studios’ actual hiring practices described like this.

Imagine a big castle with a moat and one drawbridge. Outside the drawbridge are hundreds of young artists with portfolios mulling in a great circle from front to back and then forward again. (Note that there is no way for a portfolio to actually get you across the moat. For that you need a bridge. Got it?)

Okay, now most of the time the drawbridge is up. The studio is full.

Most studios, even at their smallest, have far more people than they actually need between "crunch" times. So to hold down costs while making a movie, every studio no matter how big or small, will wait until the last possible second to staff up. They drop the drawbridge only when they need bodies in chairs to get the film finished, not before. And when they do, they are not so picky. If you meet the minimum required skill set, get yer butt in here and get to work.

Without warning the bridge comes down and everybody standing in front of the door runs in and then when all the chairs are full, the bridge goes back up.

So if you happen to be standing close enough when the bridge comes down, you’re in. It’s numbers, not talent, that usually gets a new artist his/her first couple of breaks. (It's talent and hard work that make a career, of course. But right now we're just taking about getting that first studio job.)

Therefore, your best bet is to keep your portfolio in circulation at as many studios and production companies as possible to maximize your chances of being first in line when the bridge comes down.

Now if you are going to be submitting your portfolio again and again to the same review boards, basic pride means you want to keep the portfolio fresh and constantly improving. Therefore, while you are waiting to get into a studio you should…

Take any and all freelance film work, even if it is on spec. The idea is to improve your skills and gain experience, so when you get a break you can do something with it. TV work frankly doesn’t help get film work and may hurt you at some studios. So make a choice. Are you going to do film or TV? That is the kind of work you should pursue.

And take classes. Best way in the world to improve your skills and get samples of things you couldn’t ordinarily get a shot at. The Animation Guild is a great resource with many practical classes taught by seasoned and sometimes very generous industry professionals. Here's a link.

But the most important classes you’ll ever take should be from Glenn Vilpuu. He is truly a direct connection to the great Old Masters of drawing and should be considered a national treasure in the art community. I recommend any of his classes, all his books, and promise that if you get to travel with him on one of his classes to Italy it will change everything about the way you approach your work. Here's a link.

Okay that’s it. Keep your portfolio in circulation, keep applying at as many studios at once as you can, keep going to classes to improve your portfolio, and stick with it. Don’t get discouraged. Eventually you’ll be in the right place at the right time.

One last thought. I have sincerely never known anyone not to get into a studio if they really wanted to. I have only known those who succeeded or gave up trying.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New film-new Web page

My new film, Hoodwinked Too: Hood vs. Evil, is coming out April 29th. You can catch a link to the trailer at my new web page