Friday, April 29, 2011

Industry Day Survival Guide - a letter to downtrodden 2011 grads

So about 4 people came up to me yesterday like this - Those lucky few, who really enjoyed Industry Day. Even last year, I enjoyed my Industry Day; I had a really good one.

Of course, this is not the case for all. Some people, my girlfriend included, who were either warned ahead of time of the reality of Industry day, reacted like the following. Perhaps there was an inkling of a smile. This totalled about 80% of the population yesterday. Even those that did well, had this expression donned - because they were in shock.

Then there are a few, who are like this:

Because people, of whom I will not even refer to properly as it will make me look terrible, have hyped this day up so much - and now you're heartbroken.

If you are the above image, one (or more) of the following statements is applies to you:

1. I have worked really hard, so therefore I should win an award.

2. I have worked really hard, so therefore I should get at least an interview with a big studio.

3. I have worked reasonably hard, so therefore I should at least get an interview with any studio.

And generally speaking for about 90% of you, none of those came true, and your dreams shattered at your feet and you went home and ate tons of ice cream, or played video games until your eyes inverted from being mostly white with red veins to being totally red from lack of sleep.

It's fine, I've totally done that.

So, that said. There is life past Industry Day, and opportunities past, and this is where reality kicks in. Drawing from my own experiences for a moment, while I found that my Industry Day yielded a lot of good feedback, and an interview- for about six months, I had no work.

As a lot of you know, being idle is terrible, and yes I probably could have done a lot more to get a job which is where this comes in:

Industry Day is not the place to get a job, if you do, congratulations - don't rub it in everyone else's face, it's really unnecessary.

If you don't get a job, which is about 99% of the population, whereever you intend on working, go in and start kicking down doors - show the studios that you give a damn and you really want to work there. Your face means more than your resume, and as most of you have no experience to speak of, this is extremely important.

The big studios, are the dream for most people. To get into those, you either need exponential raw talent which is usually bestowed on but one individual per year, not even, or incredible knowledge of what the studio expects, or an incredible fucking resume.

And in two years, three years time, an incredible resume is not that hard to achieve. I went to Los Angeles recently, and I met a lot of people in big studios - and their resumes are pages long, and they're a lot older than myself (I am a baby however). These are the folks that earned their way into the Industry.

Please don't compare yourself to the people who get the awards, or get the Dreamworks Story Initiative or the Pixar Apprenticeship - yes they're very talented and worked incredibly hard, but so did you.

The reason they did and you didn't, is because they hit notes in the recruiters minds that you didn't. Which is not a bad thing, you just need to learn what they want, focus on your one major discipline and build on your resume.

And the reason you were ignored on Industry Day is not because you did a shitty film, or your work is shit, or you are shit, it is in fact, none of the above. (Actually it might be your film, bad choices often turn people off, but more than likely, it's not. Sorry, harsh truth for some.)

No one tells you that you need to grab them. And pull them to your station. And talk. For whatever reason, you've been made to believe that people will talk to you and this is a terrible way to be introduced into the Industry because you need to talk to them and show you give a damn. Being over enthusiastic, is sometimes a good thing.

EDIT: Keep in mind as well that these poor Industry guests are being corralled as much as you are, and while the idea of an Industry is a great idea - big events are very difficult to plan and can often go off track and they get overwhelmed or underwhelmed and they just leave. It's not you, they're not offended at you or your work - well they might be - but that's not why they're leaving.

For instance, everyone is shy about talking to the big studios that come to Industry Day (Read: Dreamworks), and I recognized that the recruiters were very busy talking to people that they wanted to talk to, but they would not talk to you if you didn't go to them.

It took about an hour for it to click with me, but I went up to Tiffany Feeney (Human Outreach Supervisor), and I pulled her over to my table and it paid off.

This is how you should approach the next year because the last thing you want is to be idle.

Don't get a part time job at a mall.

Don't get a part time job at a Starbucks or whereeverthefuckelse, you need Freelance at the very least.

Also if you're living in Oakville, move the fuck out, move to Toronto, or somewhere else there's work - there's no work in Oakville and you can't expect to find work there.

  • I've since found out that people have taken insult to my "suggestion" to not get a job at the mall - please don't. This whole thing is my opinion, and my take, and why you shouldn't REALLY be upset by Industry Day. A lot of people get a job at the Mall and then the art part of their brain just shuts off - it's gone, it's just mush now. Turning that thing back on takes forever. So if you can avoid it, then do so. But if you can't, I'm not insulting those who have by necessity gotten a job at the mall, so they can survive and y'know, live. But it's not ideal, and if you desperately want a job in the animation Industry, especially in Toronto - simple, move to Toronto. And if you can survive on freelance, do freelance! If it means moving back home - Oh God, moving back home - it's painful but you can save up money that way and do work related to your field for a while before hoofin' it to Toronto.

If a year passes, and the next batch of graduates comes out and you haven't done a lick of freelance or anything animation related and you decide to get a studio job and you don't have a good reason (ie. raising a child), Studios will wonder why.

And you don't want to say: Industry Day depressed me so much that I got discouraged out of looking.

I felt miserable for those six months I had nothing, even though I was looking as hard as I could within my situational restraints.I was worried about the whole idle thing, and I began to publish myself on the Internet, getting to know people online. I don't rock Deviantart, but it's a good way to get yourself out there. Then in the span of about four months after that lull of no work - I got an Independent Short Film, a full-length feature, and a music video under my belt.

I was one of those not-so-lucky grads. I didn't get Disney, or Dreamworks, or Pixar, or even interviewed by studios other than the one that will remain unnamed. But if you persevere and learn to sell yourself, you'll succeed.

Get out there and do your best, that's all you can do.

Persevere other not-so-lucky grads, success comes with time and effort, not with a single day where you're showcased like cattle at the Royal Winter Fair.
Life is not that easy.




  1. bravo Leisha. You said a lot of what needed to be said...but never really gets said.

  2. Thanks Fraeya, I am to enlighten and relieve.

  3. Good post and I've linked to it. Just so you know, I tell my fourth years that industry day is not the climax, it's the first day of the job hunt. The goal is to meet people and get feedback. An interview or a job is a bonus.

  4. I'm so glad I'm reading this two years before my industry day! thanks for posting this!

  5. thank you so much for this post! I'm definitely one of those people that would be heartbroken and like Chris said, i'm glad i got to read this early on so i can prepare myself :)

  6. that was really helpful thanks I'll definitely keep that in mind.

    I agree with Seema!

  7. amazing read leisha! i wish i knew of this earlier too,

  8. This has just been shared with the current third and fourth year students, and it is great of you to give this perspective and eye opener to some. Hope you are doing well by the way. All the best.

  9. Also has been shared with the second years. Many like me have idealist dreams of how the industry will be, this is a great honest insight into the reality of it all. definite food for thought. Thank you! Happy trails :)