A week ago today I was splaying buttons and business cards out in front of a computer at the Sheridan College Learning Commons*. Not because I had nothing better to do - or that I was making an offering to the business students and/or custodial staff - but because it was Industry Day!
(Said business cards and buttons).
Industry Day is a magical time where Industry professionals are thrown into a giant room with awkward, sleep-deprived animation kids (students) who are binging on coffee and redbull to prevent their bodies from collapsing after the physically and emotionally draining process of creating a short film. I could make jokes about the exponential levels of uncomfortable eye-contact and desperation but i WAS one of those animation kids
awkwardly patiently waiting around a table in hopes of being approached.
And I wanted to let future kids know: that it's actually not that bad. In fact - it's fun! It's very easy to blow any interactions - or lack thereof - out of proportion on industry day so DON'T DO IT, okay? (Or at least try not to).
If an industry rep passes you by without so much as a look at your station/name-tag it does not mean that you have failed as an artist and you're never going to find a job and you're going to spend the rest of your life spooning your heap of cats in your parent's basement because nobody loves you. Realistically those people who passed you by might be on the lookout for someone who can paint hyper-realistic mutant spiders for their upcoming spider-centric video game and you hyperventilate at the sight of spiders, anyway, so they kind of just did you a huge favor by not shaking your clammy hand!
Everyone's there for a reason and not all of those reasons are to hire someone so don't get discouraged! Even better - I can almost guarantee that you will have at least ONE person come up to you and say something awesome about you/your film/your art. Yeah, it might be inflating your ego a bit (and just accept it because you've probably been way too critical of yourself lately, anyway), but it really is an amazing feeling to have a complete stranger tell you that they enjoyed the project you've spent the past year (or more) pouring all of your efforts into. I really enjoy film-making so to know that an audience outside of my usual circle of friends / mentors liked what I'd made was very rewarding.
At the end of the feverish, draining blur that is Industry Day you might land a few interviews! Another thing to remember is that, at least in our case, interviews were only scheduled by studios visiting from out of town (aka: studios from Vancouver, L.A., etc.). So, again, don't beat yourself up (or anyone else, please) if you don't have an interview lined up the very next morning because there are a LOT of awesome studios in the Toronto area alone that will interview people on their own time. There are also so many more studios out there than what is represented on Industry Day so do your homework and don't be afraid to contact the studios that didn't show. Or maybe studio life isn't the life for you and the wonderful worlds of freelance animation/illustration, independent film-making, comic-making, app-making, cookie-making, whatever, also have so many avenues for you to explore!
I originally intended this post to be a review of Industry Day 2012 and it ultimately morphed into a 'how-to' guide for up-and-coming sheridan animation grads (and I'm okay with that). Going into this event, last week, I had no idea what to expect and I was partially nervous so, ultimately, I want next year's kids to know that you should just skip the nervous and be excited because it's a lot less intimidating than you think. Enjoy! Shake hands! Make new friends! Throw business cards in the air like confetti!
I was lucky enough to be among some really talented kids, this year. I'm so proud of all of my friends and, in general, I have a lot of confidence in the success that these grads will find. So good luck not only to the class of 2012 but also to the students of industry day 2013, 2014 and 2531, even. Industry day is only the beginning of your awesome and limitless future!
*(I was also fighting off the post-film plague; the unavoidable shutting down of one's body after completing a film. It wasn't just me, right?).