Animators by day Animation teachers by night.

Friday, March 31, 2006

The Collaborator, the Prima Donna, and the Fanboy

Last Tuesday night a couple of my students pulled me aside after class and asked if I could post something on "how to interview well." I talked with them a bit about it and basically came to the assumption that this could be a very tricky thing to talk about. I just don't know if I can give general advice to people who will be interviewing at many different places. One general idea I came up with was that you'd most likely want to come across as someone who will work well in a team, and that is what I will focus this post on.

I had an acting teacher tell me once that the greatest actors are ones who are "giving" to the other actors on stage. If a performer wants to "steal the show" they are not giving, but taking away from the other performances and story by hogging the spotlight. I believe this is true for animators as well. Both require performances that build; that ebb & flow with the story. Don't get me wrong; it is always an artist's duty to give the audience nothing but their best. But that best work, if done in a collaborative environment, will give the other performers something to REACT to. Feature animated films have definitely fallen into this trap in the past, where animation has stepped into the spotlight over a great story. This also happens all the time in live action movies as well. How many movies these days let the special effects take the spotlight even over the actors and story?

When I'm interviewing someone, I'm looking for someone who has amazing work as an individual (their reel!) AND seems to have a great attitude about sharing ideas with others. Personally, I don't want to work with a "superstar" animator if he/she is an egotistical prima donna. The animation department we have here is like a family that shares ideas and inspires one another. I've actually heard an artist say in an interview that they had nothing more to learn; that they wanted to show others how they knew great animation should be done. Nope, not interested. Some of the greatest animators I know are very humble artists that admit they still have something to learn, and seek the advice of those around them to push their work further.

The opposite of the superstar is the superfan. This person is someone who is more into the idea of working at a "famous" place, rather than loving the craft of animation and collaborating on telling a great story. Personally, I don't do what I do because of the name of the place I work at. I love cartoons, movies, animation, acting, teaching, and learning. I am passionate about what I do and I love working with others that feel the same way. I understand that it is the student's job to be excited and inspired about what they are doing, but I warn them not to be fanatical. Animation doesn't beget great animation. Great animation comes from being inspired by things observed in real life.

If you have been called in for an interview your work has probably shown an ability to stand alone. Be proud of that! But for the interview I recommend simply being yourself. You will show either that a) you're a fanatic so much that it'll freak people out, b) you're an egotistical jerk that should work someplace else, or c) your someone who will share ideas and work well on a team. I always go for c.

Another two cents from Dr. Sclark.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wanting to work at a famous place can have the reason of wanting to be part of that famous family that has been breaded there, because of what you know about how they work and think. Movies are artists sons, and character performances are animators special sons, and they are not your only son, because like mom and dad, lets say animator and character modeler, they argue on how to raise their son in the best way.

The best work for me would be the one that lets animation turn entirely into my life. My colleagues have to be really part of the family, they’ve got to be good brothers as the one I must be, so I not only meet them at work, but at any place, and still feel part of the family (do what we love outside work, because it is our life). And Dad, lets say the director, has to be of easy approach, and be able to communicate with all his sons in a great way (each son is different), so he can correct their mistakes in the best way (more than dad and son, best friends). Every artist at work has to be my Dad, as well, sons teach lessons to their parents. I also want to feel proud of my family.

Knowing how to correct our relatives is also important.

Inspiring post! Dr.

10:10 AM

Blogger Bevin said...

Thanks so much for this post!

I've been doing some interviews recently, and I'm beginning to realize that I've probably come across as too much of a superfan.

Getting to meet some of the people whose work I've been really inspired by is so exciting for me, but after reading this post, I realized that I need to remember that someday I will (hopefully) be working with these people as a team, so I should learn to talk with them as though they're co-workers (instead of celebrities I can't believe I'm talking to).

10:52 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't worry bevin, it is a huge club.

11:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot Dr. Sclark

That's exactly what I was looking for.


3:41 PM

Blogger Dr. Sclark said...

I'm glad you guys found this useful. I always like to tell my students that some of them are equally (or more!) talented than I am, but that I've got 10 years of experience. And it's true. If you love animation, always have a desire to learn, and have a lucky amount of talent you'll be the one in ten years teaching the animation classes.

-Dr. Sclark

3:54 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Talent comes from luck?

6:05 PM

Blogger Dr. Sclark said...

What I meant was you're a lucky person if you're naturally talented.

Dr. Sclark

10:39 AM

Blogger Sean MacNeil said...

Talk about a useful post for sure. Not that anything on this blog isn't useful. ; ) Control your it! : )

2:39 PM

Blogger samacleod said...

That's wonderful advice! Thanks for sharing with us, as always.

3:56 PM

Blogger CarolineJarvis said...

Great advice!

12:11 AM

Blogger hakken_krak said...

So helpful! Thanks.

Also - 100 years of animation! I nerded out all morning over this clip.
(Humorous Phases of Funny Faces)

1:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This? Is a great post.
Seriously, if there's one funny, small--seemingly insignificant--thing that marks a young applicant as a kind of "uh-oh", it's a worshipful, fanatical doesn't sound fair, and the truth is that yes, all of us in the business have a deep, steadfast love for the art and films, but we also understand the business. That no place is "perfect" or "heaven",etc.(pick any gee-whiz hyperbole you can think of). Work is work, and it's hard, and there WILL be disappointments at any job, some of them bitter ones--even up in Emeryville. And the flip side of a fanatic's love is all too often hate. Extremes of emotion along the lines of idol worship or the like have no place in the day to day, meticulous building and collaborative efforts of filmmaking. Youth tends to exuberance, and that's normal, but youth needs perspective. And I LOVE your note about "in 10 years you'll be where I am"--that's fantastic and exactly the thinking of a great teacher. : )

5:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you doctor sclark, that was scool. See you in sclass.

9:26 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I worked with 2 animators that were completely ego crazed. Both applied to the best studio in the biz and both blew their interviews. I was so happy to see that no matter how great your work is, who you are and the attitude you have is just as important.

I know some studios out there disregard professional conduct and attitude as long as your doing cutting edge work. And trust me those studios are no fun to work for. So when interviewing, pay close attention to who's interviewing YOU as well.

10:00 AM

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