Today, Animation Mentor VFX board member and former Head of Outreach for DreamWorks Animation – Marilyn Friedman – drops by the Animation Mentor blog to share tips for artists getting started in the industry. Friedman spearheaded the Dreamworks’ educational outreach initiatives, assessing university academic programs as they pertained to the studio’s varied production needs. Prior to her outreach role, Marilyn led DWA’s world-class team of recruiters in staffing all animation studio production and technology groups. She was responsible for the continued staffing of Academy Award-winning Shrek as well as the sequel, Shrek 2. The first and second computer-generated films to be produced at DreamWorks Feature Animation, Shark Tale and Over the Hedge, also came under her watch.
Friedman is full of insightful information for aspiring artists and we are grateful to her for sharing a few of them here on the blog. Here are her five recruiter tips. Enjoy!
1. Production experience. For eager, young individuals aspiring to enter this field any type of production experience is immensely useful. The most obvious would be to obtain an internship, although they can be difficult to come by given the number of available spots.
2. Be part of a sequence. Working on a collaborative project during school would be a solid way of demonstrating an understanding of the production pipeline. A 15 or 30 second animation shot can be parceled out among several individuals. Everyone on that team has an area of responsibility and are working within a pipeline – towards a common goal – on schedule and on budget! Working collaboratively is a key “soft skill” and is another good outcome of working on a team within a pipeline.
3. Learn to learn. Do not think you are an expert, or are “done.” On the contrary, this industry has never been static and is also not for the faint at heart. Stay current with your CG skills and always work to improve your soft skills.
4. Know the industry. Know the companies that need your skill set. Know what is possible, attainable, and your passion. There are growing needs for students with animation, visual effects and digital media skills in other industries. Some areas include: content delivery, TV animation/fx, rapid prototyping, 3D printing, creating apps, the cloud, etc. These are all game changers. Working in high-end VFX and feature animation studios may not be the “only” career option you can choose from.
5. Networking is critical. Industry affiliations are an easy way to stay connected with like-minded people, as well as being visible to potential employers. For example, volunteering at events like SIGGRAPH or CTNx are huge opportunities for learning, exposure to the industry, and working professionals on an on-going basis.
And if you need a little extra encouragement, just remember what James Cameron once said, “There are many talented people who haven’t fulfilled their dreams because they over thought it, or they were too cautious, and were unwilling to make the leap of faith.”