How did your eight-year (so far) journey in VFX start out?
Getting into the industry was challenging. My demo reel needed work, so people weren’t hiring me, but I needed the experience to get better! Unpaid internships weren’t ideal, but I was desperate to learn and improve. After a few years of jumping around smaller studios and honing my craft, my friend had told me about The Mill and the runner positions they offered.
Can you discuss your first experiences at The Mill?
As a runner, I was part of the client services team that kept the studio running. That involved anything from going into suites with clients to take care of food/drink needs, running errands for projects, arranging team lunches, and more. I was involved with a lot of small tasks, but being a runner also helped me to meet a lot of people in different departments. I made friends in CG, and after three months they requested my help on a project during the busy Super Bowl season. They realized I had more than just beginner-level skillset! I proved myself on that job and was fortunate enough to stay in a Junior VFX Artist role. In this position, I contributed to background assets and camera tracking. That gave me a great foundational understanding of the creative process, which came in hugely beneficial following a promotion to my current role of VFX artist.
What are the hardest hurdles to overcome in landing a job in the industry?
It’s hard to get your foot in the door. You need a super-impressive reel. It’s why I ended up taking on so many unpaid internships. In terms of advice for others, I’d say keep making things even on your own time. The more you’re doing, the more potential employers can see the potential of where you’re going. I would encourage anyone to look for companies like The Mill that offer runner positions and paid internships. It is so valuable as these roles provide real potential to move up. Something special about The Mill is that a lot of the artists started as runners. To see leads, even our Chief Creative Officer, and know they began as runners too – that made me feel like I was in the right place. And it meant my supervisors understood my position and wanted to see me grow and improve. When I see new runners now, I always make an effort to introduce myself and let them know that this place will take care of you if you work hard!
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