I’m working as digital compositor since the end of 2014, plus 3 years as a generalist in the Architectural world, not so many time, but enough to experience a good number of interviews, failures and successes. During the FMX2018, I interviewed recruiters from different companies everywhere in the world, Australia, Canada and of course Europe.
What I’m going to tell you is the summary of these interviews and my personal suggestions, not rules, not anything from a specific company and it will not provide you with a job straight away but could help you a lot.
Assuming you are a skilled artist, just out from a school, masterclass, course, online tutorial…
What can you do? No one will get you an interview without a reel, but if no one hires you, you can not create a reel! So, What to do?
A lot of schools provide you with the final project to create the beginning of your reel; in this case, be sure that you work is unique, or at least come out from a small group, the recruiters hate to see 100 times the same reel.
If you are struggling to find material, try to look online into indie projects, there are a lot of young filmmakers who are looking for free help. This is not a free work for someone else, which I generally suggest not to do, but you are offering your time/work to someone to get back material for your reel and at the moment is worth more than money! Sometimes they can offer you some refund for your expense, with their very small budget, it is very nice. These projects are often very quick and you can easily publish the shots, after the permission of the owner, instead of waiting months after the DVD release like in the feature film industry.
Before applying to a company I would like to focus on the reel and burn out the most of the false myths about it.
A.Longer is better.
This is the biggest misconception you can trust! Studies on the most diffused social networks shows that half of the people lose their attention on a video after 2 minutes. Show only your best works, not all your works, not the works you love the most.
B. Start slow to finish with the best.
Put the best shot at the beginning, catch the attention of the recruiter, and the supervisors, otherwise, you risk that they will close the reel before the end, or they are already convinced that you are not so good, the first impression is very valuable. Nonetheless, I suggest to put your second best shot at the end, so you will left in their mind a good impression.
C. Make the best logo ever.
A good logo is always welcome, but because the length must be short and the first and the last impression are very important, start and end with your name and your contacts very visible and readable. This is very important because they will not contact you by your logo, but by your email!
D. Heavy-hard-core-metal-rock soundtrack and it takes me two months to edit like a music video clip.
95% of the recruiters do not listen to any sound when they watch your reel, maybe they are listening they own music. Strange but true, they do not love heavy metal. Do not edit your reel following the music, follow points A and B, follow your purpose: be hired from a VFX company, not winning the Best Film Editing at the Academy award.
E. Show all kind of works.
This is could be a necessity right at the beginning because you do not have a lot of works to show, but as soon as it will be possible, as always, be focus! The big companies are very specialized and often do not look for a generalist. Send a reel as a generalist to the small-medium company, or maybe to apply for an internship. Send a reel as a texture artist or pre-artist to the big companies. Also very important if you are applying to a VFX feature film company, show just correlated feature film works; make a different reel, if you need, for advertising, games…
Now that we have our first nice always-could-be-better showreel, it is time to play! The following are my 6 best suggestions for getting your real first interview:
1. Look for a facility easy for you: someplace where you do not need a work permit or a sponsor.
As we are “artist”, we can easily get a visa, but we need at between 3 and 5 years of experience. There is a little workaround to this point, you can ask for your own visa through the amazing working holiday visa program, it depends on the relationship between country and country, but generally, Canada and Australia can offer working holiday visa, if you are under 35-30 years old, respectively.
2. Face the problem in different ways: not all the companies use the same method to look for people, so we have to use more than one strategy to contact them. Fill the form on the website, contact directly the recruiter on Linkedin, send direct mail (if you have their address) and it is very important to go to the events like FMX, BFX, Siggraph, View Conference… The recruiters are there for you and they are very kind to answer all your question and give you suggestions or their direct contact. I got my first important job in this way…
Also with a help of a couple of friends and some pints of good beer.
3. But, when is the right time to contact them? All the recruiters will answer “always”. The right answer to this question is to contact them when they need you! They always publish on their website and on Linkedin when they need people. If they are looking for your position, this is the right moment to offer yourself and the best way to have a fast answer.
4. Resume/CV. The only reel is not enough, we need also a resume, with all our info, studies, works and skills. Put only something linked to the industry, you can add some voluntary works, it is always appreciated.
Keep it clean and short, max one or two pages, do not be creative but essential.
5. Breakdown. On the base of your reel, create the breakdown, always simple and easy to read. Explain, shot by shot, what you have done on it. Be short in the description, do not explain how you solve the problems but the different tasks you solve; you will explain how you solve them during the interview.
6. Be ready. Especially in Europe, if you do not need a Visa, the facilities are looking for people ready to start generally in one, two weeks, sometimes the day after. This is because, maybe, they have to finish a project and they need more people, or they got a project with a short deadline. It also could happen that they planning a project with several months in advance, but it is rare and usually correlated for big companies and big projects. It means that we have to keep our reel, our resume and cover letter always update and ready to be sent.
In the end, my last thought about your reel: be focused on your goal, be hired from a vfx company and do not waste time on side tasks. We live in the social era, use your social-young skill to contact the right people at the right time. Good luck to everyone!
I hope to see you next to my desk in a beautiful company around the world.
I would like to say thank you to all recruiters who answered to my questions: Trixter, Animalogic, MPC, Framestore, ScanlineVfx, Third Floor, The Mill, RodeoFX, Pixomondo, Makevision, Dneg.