In part 2 of this series, experienced VFX Supervisor HaZ looks at the right and wrong ways to approach studios when you're looking for work
These days cold calling studios or walking into the lobby asking for work is not the ideal way to land a VFX gig. There are better ways to apply, whether you’re after a postion you saw on the studio’s website, or a job forum (or board, or advert), or if you want to make contact with a studio for a meeting to explore potential collaborations.
The right approach
If you are applying for a job based on an advert or job spec then please read the job specification carefully - I mean really reading it properly and knowing what they are asking for.
Don’t send stuff for a character animation position if your reel and experience is in environment modelling for example. There is always the opportunity of sending a speculative application (ensure you label it with that) if you really want to make contact with the studio for future work.
Don’t apply for a senior position if you are a junior or don’t have the years to match (seniors are usually 5+ years). Just because you are great doesn’t make you a senior, and could actually be seen as ‘big-headed’ by seniors or supervisors who are interviewing you.
There is a reason why they categorise “junior”, “mid” and “senior”, and that isn’t down to how clever you are at your specific skill (I have worked with Juniors that can do amazing work and technically savvy with just raw talent, yet fresh out of university).
It is simply down to how long you have been in the industry, and yes that matters because it means you know how the industry works, the terminologies, the pipeline and workflows and to be able to work unsupervised and be part of creative and technical decisions made on a shot or sequence based on experience on previous projects, technology or studio workflow.
Personalize your emails
Try to personalise your email approaches and keep it short and concise. I get a lot of emails from people applying for jobs based on a project(s) I am recruiting for so I don’t have time to ready essays, but what really winds me up is when I see a 'generic' email starting with :dear sir/madam” without a single mention of the studio name or position they are interested in or where they saw the position advertised. To me that shows laziness, lack of interest in the studio, and it seems almost like spamming, in my mind.
If you are applying to a studio and a position advertised then make that clear and show some interest by saying you love the work the studio recently did and what interested you in the position (again keep it short: no need to give your life story here), but be genuine rather than sound like you are selling yourself, and for your own sake please don’t say things like "I can be a benefit to your company etc.” let the studio be the judge of that when they see your reel and CV!
There are some very good recruitment agencies in the industry such as Utopia People, Escape Studios and others. You can combine agency and self approach to your job hunt but remember that you need to keep to the agencies rules so its best to always let the agency know what studios you have spoken to already or have an existing relationship with.
If you are the sort of person who doesn’t like to approach studios directly and would prefer someone else to take care of approaching studios and negotiating on your behalf, then signing up with a good recruitment agency such as Utopia or Escape is a good idea providing you make the effort to keep the agency updated with your latest work, availability etc.
Don't be devious
Once again be sure to not get involved with conflict of interest by speaking to a studio that has already signed with the agency for recruitment, because you don’t look good if that happens. Most of the time this can be avoided by just asking the studio you speak to if they deal with agencies and if not then go ahead and interview etc., but if they deal with the recruitment agency you are signed with then it’s best to go through your agency as they would have already established a relationship with the studio.
Part 3 is here