In Part 3 of this 3 part series, HaZ, our VFX correspendent, talks about Networking; not about IP addresses and routers, but getting to know the people you need to know.
Still from Fubar Redux by HaZ
Part 1 is here
Part 2 is here
Networking: putting yourself out there.
If you’re a freelancer, you’re essentially running a small business. And just like any business-person, you need to put yourself out there, advertising yourself and getting you and your work seen - and making connections with people in the industry. Some people love that and some don’t, but the reality of it all is you don’t need to be a party social animal to be good at networking and getting the contacts.
Firstly if you do great work, your reputation will be heard (its a small world and the VFX industry is a tightly knitted community) and will flow thoughall the circles so that you will be remembered.
Secondly it’s also worth staying in touch with former colleagues (via email and LinkedIn) and being aware of the job posts on LinkedIn groups (join the VFX Jobs group, Nuke freelancers group, CG Group etc.). Look at job forums such as Creative Heads and the visual effects studios recruitment pages.
What I tend to do is send out a personal update email to former studio heads and production deparments letting them know what I’m up to and what my availability is looking like for the weeks ahead. Keep it short - and its also a nice way to stay in touch with the studio too so you are on the producers mind when they are planning for future shows.
For those who love to socialise and have a few drinks while networking then keep an eye out for events set up by the Visual Effects Society and Escape studios which are usually free to go to. Then there are of course industry events such as FMX, CVMP, Siggraph, Annecy etc., and recruitment road-shows by the bigger studios.
Social Media approach to hunting for your next gig.
Don’t just spam a link to your reel! Make it personal like saying you are currently available or will be available soon but in the meantime check out the reel featuring latest work from projects such as X and Y etc.
If you see an advert on LinkedIn, or VFX job forums don’t reply to the group discussion with your details, as its not designed for a discussion thread and most of the time recruiters don’t look at that, which is why they specifically ask you to email email or visit the studio site to apply.
Social media is what it says on the tin with the keyword being "social"; so don’t start "bitching" about former colleagues or studios on boards or forums, because, like I said, the VFX industry is a tight-knit one, which means everyone knows everyone one way or another - and as a freelancer you do not want to burn any bridges to ensure your future gigs. Badmouthing a studio (big or small) is actually badmouthing the management personnel there, and in a few years time members of that management personnel would have moved onto other studios or projects - a studio or project you might just have sent your CV and Reel to.
Make the most of recent releases
Look out for any projects you have worked on that have just been released in the cinemas, broadcast on air etc., and tweet about them. For example - "Hey check out X! I was part of the compositing team on that project” - and tag the studio you worked with in the tweet as it shows appreciation: people in the industry will remember you for that.
You could announce you are available on your LinkedIn status and what dates you will be available from. For this to be really effective, it is worth connecting to the recruiters at the facilities so they can see your updates. I often only find out when good talent (that I’ve have worked with in the past at other studios or projects) are available when they update their LinkedIn status.