Girl holding a camera
Photo by: Lord Colus

When students ask me “What is the fastest way into the animation industry?” I always say the same thing:

Pick one discipline and get your work to a professional standard.

You may disagree, but here’s why I say it.

Get good

No-one will hire you if you’re work isn’t worth paying for.

If you take an honest look at your work and compare it to people you will be competing with for jobs, then you will have a better idea what level of expertise you should be shooting for.

When I was at Animation Mentor, I spent way too long comparing my reel to the other students in the course.

Although it’s great to be ambitious and push yourself, the smarter thing for me would have been to assess my reel in comparison to people already working in the industry.

Some schools are better than others – and being the best in your class at a crummy school may not make you as employable as being a B+ student at a world-class school.

Why not start with IMDB and look through the credits of films you like, jot down the names of the people that worked on the film in the role you want and check out their showreels online.

Now you will have decent benchmark to see what you should be shooting for.

Get good fast

The slowest way to get anything done is by doing ten different things at once.

Let’s be honest.

If you want to get good at photography in a short amount of time, you need to drop the acting classes. If you want to be great at drawing quickly, forget about that short course on web design for the time being.

David B Levy in a recent post on his blog Animondays had this to say about schools that teach many different skills at once:

I think this is a big problem with the local animation educations. How does it make sense to take a senior who is still having problems doing basic animation and require them to take on those other roles at the same time? – David B Levy

I love that some schools want to foster a new breed of auteur all-rounders, but I worry that students run the risk of emerging with broad experience, but a sub-par demo reel.

Better to focus on one thing you like doing and become world-class. There will be time to build new skills and add new interests once you’re working.

I might save what I think the perfect animation education looks like for a later post, but I’ll give you a hint:

Start general and finish specific.

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