We look at what women can do to improve their chances of landing a job in the VFX industry. Whether you’ve recently graduated, completed a VFX short course or you’re looking to take the next step on the career ladder there’s plenty of advice to help you.
Advice for women applying for jobs in the VFX industry
>> One thing which I've noticed from interviewing both men and women for roles is that I don't think women are as forward in terms of putting their own skill sets and selling themselves. I think it comes more naturally to men to do that.
Women will always be a bit shy and not say, “well, actually I'm really good at these things.” You tend to find that on CV's they're a bit humbler about their own abilities.
I read some interesting articles on how often, if a woman sees a job posting, they'll think that they have to tick all of the boxes and actually, quite often there’s scope that you don't have to. But it will stop them applying for the position.
Whereas with a guy the ego side comes out or maybe it's confidence that comes across and they will be a little bit more forward in selling themselves.
So something that I would encourage women to do is look at a job description and if you find it interesting then you should be applying and selling yourself into that role, rather than thinking you can't do it because you haven't ticked all of the boxes that the job description says you need to.
When I was offered the job at Sony it wasn't necessarily the role that I wanted to be doing at that point, it was a character artist role and I was definitely looking to become an animator.
I kind of already knew in my head that animation was what I was passionate about and what I wanted to do. But I saw this as kind of a intro role and literally I was doing this role for three months there, before I got the chance to do animation and that's because, once I was in there I was able to say. “You know if there’s animation I would like to have a go at doing some of that”. And
it became a natural transition anyway because maybe not waiting for
that perfect thing to come alone being, I guess, willing to maybe do something a little bit differently, you hadn’t quite expected as your first thing.
As long as you've got the skills. And maybe, the industry has changed, it shifts all the time, so there are some very generalist roles where if you study and you'll learn a little bit of everything when you can go in and continue to do a bit of everything and then there’s big teams which have more specialist skill sets and I think then you do have to sell yourself into the specialism that the team’s looking for.
Why it’s important to be persistent and follow your dream of working in VFX
>> When I was trying to get my first major job and I was living in New York I applied to a company in San Francisco who was doing great work compositing and editing. For me it was a big move, so I applied for it and I thought I’m going to go to San Francisco for the Summer and get out of the hot city and at least I’ll be there, physically.
So I called the company.
The thing, I think, and I tell everybody this, is to be just confident enough at the beginning, that you might get over that hurdle, going, I really love to try this but I didn't quite feel I was exactly ready for it. I didn't know if I had all the skills yet, but knew that I had enough. And I was willing to learn. So, I just kept calling to tell them all I was temping and in San Francisco, that kind of thing. Then, out of the blue, that persistence paid off and I end up got a call and they said, “hey would you like to come in?”
And I stayed with that company, and then a sister company, for three, four years.
So I believe to some extent that persistence led them to say that this is somebody who really wants and needs a chance. It’s very rare to just walk into a job.
Why you should give yourself time to land your first job
>> I think there's an element of that in all jobs.
If you're a recent graduate, you're just out of university, give yourself a certain amount of time to make it. And there may come a point where you have to go, “No one is giving me a job. This isn't working.” and you'll have to find something else but give yourself a decent amount of time, and then work at it during that amount of time and really try to get it in there. You know, even if you’re doing something else to make money in the evenings to make money, still keep working at it.
>> Sometimes, a recent graduate would email in their work, and we may not have anything at that point, but we might have seen a bit of potential in them and give them a little bit of feedback. What's really interesting is seeing how many people listen to the feedback and the ones that you build the relationships with are the ones that actually listen to it. They then update their show-reel using your feedback, and then send it back to you. They are the people that get the chances.
If you just come out, expect to get the job, and are not working on your show reel to update it. If you’re not getting feedback and iterating on it, then there’s lots of people out there that are doing it to that level and will come by and snuff up those jobs. It's a wild market, because there's a lot of courses now; specialist Vfx courses. When I was studying there no games courses really existed, but they do now, and there's lots of them. And so, there's actually a lot more people coming out with, the technical skill sets that you need.
So it's tough but you've got to give yourself a nice bit of time to keep developing your show reel beyond what you've done on your course into something that continues to show your growth, even after you've left.
>> Yeah, that's great advice for everyone - not just women in the Vfx industry but just continuous development and always improving and strengthening your skills and being open minded in terms of transferable skills. Not just focusing on what it is that you want to do, but just being mindful of all the other areas that are part and parcel with the project that you would be working on.
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