Stop Motion Job Hunting 101
Laika Studios Group Photo
Finding work in the stop motion field can be a daunting task. Most people will ask themselves - do I go to college? Do I spend 40,000 dollars to learn this craft somewhere? Or is there a way I can save my money, teach myself and get work on my own?
First you should understand what life is like as an animator, puppet or set maker. The term used to describe this group of people are "freelancers". Freelancers live usually solitary nomadic lives, searching out new places to work every six months to a year on average. Studios hire such people for specific temporary roles and keep their information on file for future projects. This leaves many artists on their own to go to other studios or save money and wait things out. Directors and producers normally have more secure work timelines, but not always.
If you love the art form of stop motion and really live for it, that's the kinds of trait studios look for when they hire fabricators and animators. In a lot of cases you don't need a college education, though it can definitely help. Some studios do go to the local art colleges to find graduates that show the most promise or skill.
Since the people already working in studios have the same passion for stop motion as you, they are going to also find people similar to them. In some ways, finding work depends on who you know and your genuine passion for it. Perhaps your just that kind of person reading this article now.
If your trying to find work, first you need to share your love for the art. You need to build up a portfolio of your best work and make it available. The same goes for your animation if you want to become an animator.
I recommend you make a web site, get a suitable URL and upload pictures of your work. Put your videos on YouTube, post to twitter, Facebook, Discord etc. and then share your links everywhere you can. Place your links in your e-mail signature, your social media "About" areas, in your YouTube video descriptions (or write the link in your videos), put them on business cards, make rubber stamps out of them to stamp any snail mail, put them on your stationary and on your resume. This is just basic marketing and will help you in the next stage.
Always strive to improve! Remove old online works on pages that aren't as polished and get feedback from people outside your immediate family and friends. See where you can do things better and stick to your goal of getting hired. It will take some persistence.
Now that you've got your work online, it's all about how well you network with people. The internet is your best tool! There are many producers, animators, college animation professors and studio employees on the internet. Many can be found on all the main platforms that you would use yourself. Many can be e-mailed or direct messaged, it's easy to start conversations and some people overlook this. Instead focusing only on applying to studio career pages when they are looking for work. Nobody will know you are there unless you make yourself known. You need to be assertive, even if your personality may be more introverted.
If you find just one person who likes your abilities, they might tell you about a new project and find you a way in. So who exactly do I recommend you try to contact first? My advice is to find a person who inspires you or that you'd like to learn from. Then if you can't contact them online, try to find people who worked with them and ask for ideas on how you can apply to their studio. If you do, you already have a topic to talk about. It's a great way to start the conversation, and it is the best way to get into what you love doing. You may get a job offer when you least expect it, and you'll learn from your new friends in the process.
If you'd like to find a list of currently operating stop motion studios to contact and send your resume, check our stop motion studios link section over here.