21 Dec 2012

How to get a job in the VFX (Visual Effects) industry Part 2 of 3

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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

Part 1 is here

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!

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HaZ Dulull

Hasraf Dulull - known in the industry as HaZ,  is a widely experienced freelance Visual Effects Supervisor and Director. He started his career in video games creating cinematic CG sequences before moving into Film Visual Effects and Compositing which later lead him to becoming a VFX Supervisor / Producer and being nominated for several awards for visual effects. 

In his spare time he is also RedShark's senior VFX reporter.

Website: www.about.me/hazvfx

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