Tuesday, October 07, 2008

College Q & A, Part Deux

Last week I spent an afternoon as an animation panelist at Cal State Fullerton, answering questions from young artists, young animators, young computer tyros.

I worked the same venue a year ago, when the questions were weighted toward starting a business and jumping into the land of animation as an owner and captain of your own ship. What a difference a year ... and a different group ... makes.

There was a larger audience of students this year, and the questions centered on contracts, rights under contracts, and what exactly TAG (the union) does. I was happy to briefly review:

* Assisting with Personal Service Contracts.

* Filing grievances when the collective bargaining agreementing -- or state or federal labor law -- is violated.

* Providing legal help.

* Communicating with members about newer job openings.

We spent a lot of time exploring the different ways artists break into the industry. I explained that there's a thousand different entry points, and everybody has a slightly different route for getting in. In today's c.g. world, computer and programming skills are important, also artistic chops. If you don't have them, I said, it's harder to make a career.

Attorney Paul Husband, the other panelist, talked about agents and managers who represent animation employees. Mr. Husband confided that we're a lengthy marching distance from the glory years of the mid- 1990s, when every animation artist worth his salt had an agent, probably a manager, occasionally a valet, etc. Now it's a case of breaking in, getting production experience, and riding the project--to-project career trajectory.

It was a lively couple of hours. The most telling part of it for me was that students were more interested in the nuts and bolts of the industry, how to get in and stay in, what their rights were, than they were in October of 2007, when the focus was entrepreneurial.

But the times, as they say, are a-changing.


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