Finding animation work is a tricky business. An animator responded to one of our online job ads here at Napoleon Creative, a creative London video and animation agency. I looked at his CV and showreel, some good looking stuff, but one of our regular freelancers was available so we went with a known quantity, rather than trying someone new.
A few weeks later, this arrived. It was a showreel and CV. However, it wasn’t through the post. He had personally hand-delivered it. That got my attention.
First steps to finding animation work
He dropped me another email politely asking if I’d received it and had time to look at it.
His polite persistence paid off. He showed he had a nice demeanor to work with, even before I’d met him or even replied to one of his emails. So when we next had need of a freelancer, we hired him for a day.
Turns out Tom is a lovely chap, highly creative, and a swift worker. He’s worked on several projects with us, including the design work and animation for OCommerce for Capgemini.
I asked him further about his ‘polite persistence’ and turns out he had a brilliant marketing plan:
Sadly in the world of freelance animation, work doesn’t always come to you, especially when you’re starting out and have only a couple of uni films to show ‘experience’.
This is where I found myself just over a year ago. I’d finished uni, gone travelling for a year then BAM! I’m back, no money, no job, no industry experience, no hope, or was there? I knew I wanted to be an animator and if it meant knocking on doors, getting turned away and living on little money for the foreseeable future then so be it. This is where, as Gavin from Napoleon Creative quite graciously put it, my ‘polite persistence’ came into practice.
Finding Animation Work
As a freelance animator you want as many people as possible to know who you are and what you can do, so first thing to do was to flood the studios with my work. For me e-mails are very impersonal and it would have been easy to trawl the web and send out the same bog standard e-mail to everyone. Don’t get me wrong that’s exactly what I did but the key for me was to have more than one approach. Knocking on doors seemed the ideal solution for finding animation work. After creating business cards, a cover letter and showreel, it was time to gather some courage and book train tickets, studios here I come! I concentrated on the three main animation cities London, Manchester and Bristol and believe me the further you have to travel the more impressed people are, by you and your initiative. I was amazed at just how many studios took my reel and thanked me for dropping by. By showing your face, you become likeable and friendly, showing your keen to learn and most of all they’ll remember you. Next time you pop up on their e-mails, with any luck they’ll go “thats the guy that came to see us, I wonder what he’s up to”.
This same process of e-mailing every month showing what you’ve been up to (maybe mentioning that you’ve seen some of their new work) and then knocking on doors a couple of times a year, keeps you on the radar and in their minds. Always be polite, don’t hassle. So far I have had no bad comments and I hope that is due to just acting keen not pushy. In one of my first jobs through this process the manager congratulated me and said to keep at it “companies will either tell you to f**k off or say sod it, lets get him in!”, luckily I’ve only been on the latter end of the remark.
If you want to success in a creative field, you need to be able to market yourself. And Tom clearly knows how to, and he’s grown his client list quickly, not just through his skills but the way he markets himself.
If you want to more ideas about how to approach employers for finding animation work, check out my course on writing a CV for TV, it’s got a whole section on how to do it well.