If you’re an aspiring animator you're probably thinking of attending one of the many animation/VFX festivals, with a view to visiting your favourite studios in the recruitment area to nail that dream job. Easy right?
Not so much. But coming prepared will certainly help you stand out from the crowd, so on a recent outing to Vertex Conference we spoke to team AnimDojo and some of our other Zooers about ‘festival etiquette’.
Big thanks to Hannah Wong (look dev artist), Will Cook (animation director), Bader Badruddin (co-founder and coach at AnimDojo) and Tom Box (co-founder of BZ and AnimDojo) for contributing. They've chatted to many students at festivals over the years, and had lots of great advice to offer.
Top ten tips
1. Turn up
First things first, you may be wondering why come to the festival? Will it really make any difference? Unequivocally the answer is yes. Aside from all the great talks and demos you can watch and learn from, you are meeting potential employers who love to put a face to a name (or showreel).
“It’s kind of like a mini-interview before you have an official interview. You get to meet an artist, you get to know them a bit better in a really casual format”. Will
You’ll also be mingling with the wider animation community who are a great resource and a tight-knit bunch who can potentially open doors for you throughout your career.
“At festivals it’s important to remember it’s not just meeting the studios, it’s meeting your peers, because lots of jobs happen through peers”. Tom
2. Be nice
If you’re nice, polite and attentive, people will want to work with you. It’s the same as in a job interview. Good advice for life in general really.
“It does make a big difference. If you’ve met someone at a festival who’s got some great work and they’re friendly and a nice person, and then you see their reel pop up when you’re looking, you will pay extra close attention to that reel”. Tom
Confidence is a word that came up several times, which is a tricky one because artists aren’t famously confident people, so we’ve gone with ‘relax’. If you’re relaxed you’re likely to make a better first impression, and there’s no need to be nervous because we’re all people who have been in the same situation as you.
Don’t ‘lurk’ (we can see you), give a firm handshake, ask direct questions so you find out what you need, have a two-way conversation so we’re likely to remember you, and don’t just take all the free stuff.
“We all came from the same place, there was this time for all of us where we started from the beginning, just be friendly and approachable”. Hannah
4. Come prepared
Google us! Research a bit about who’s at the festival and the kind of work they produce. We’re not going to believe that you want to work with us if you don’t know what we do!
“It reflects so much better if you come up to us and say, ‘I love this thing that you did, or that’. Simple”. Bader
5. Bring the right kit
Nothing’s more frustrating than having to wait 5/10 minutes whilst someone tries to access their film/reel, then having to try and view it on a phone. Bring a tablet or laptop, make sure it’s ready to roll, make sure it’s brief, and make sure the screen’s clean!
Oh, and please don’t offer us in-ear headphones (blurgh!!!).
“It’s so annoying, holding a phone, scrolling through it, trying to rewatch that thing back again and again and again. So much easier in QuickTime, where you can frame by frame back…” Will
6. Take notes and remember who you’ve seen
If you take notes, whether or not you read them again, it looks like you’re taking on board what we’re saying and are likely to implement our suggestions. It shows you’re taking it seriously, and on a practical level will help you remember who you’ve seen and what they’ve said! One student we met keeps a spreadsheet of recruiters so they can remember who they’ve seen and where they’ve seen them. We think this is a great idea!
‘Always take a little notebook, write stuff down, even if it’s just for show it still looks pretty cool that you’re doing it!’ Will
7. Don’t overstay your welcome
Have some consideration for the other people who are waiting and don’t overstay your welcome - lack of awareness will reflect badly on you. We don’t need to watch a 10-minute film to be able to give you feedback, so keep your work brief. Also, don’t give us business cards! Take the details of the person you're speaking to and contact them yourself (we don't have time to contact everyone we meet).
8. Stay in touch…
Staying in touch and making connections undoubtedly helps when you’re looking for work, and you won’t be forgotten if you drop us a line from time to time with new work or just to say hi. Don’t always expect something in return, and if you’re connecting via LinkedIn be courteous and briefly introduce yourself (we can’t remember every name!).
9. ...but not too much
Don’t pester! It’s a good idea to have a reason to get in touch, like new work, but if not be professional, concise, and keep it to a minimal just to stay on our radar.
“Check in a couple of times a year, not a couple of times a week”. Tom
10. Listen to our advice
Most importantly - listen to us! We know what we’re talking about! We remember what advice we’ve given people and can see when they’ve taken it on board. As an employer, this is important to us as it reflects your work ethic. If you’ve no new work to show us, hold off getting in touch and concentrate on improving your skills. Patience and perseverance will pay off in the end.
To listen to the podcast visit the AnimDojo YouTube channel here. Best of luck on your recruitment journey!