The Entertainment and Tourism Club (ETC) held a panel featuring five professionals in the animation industry at the Titan Student Union theatre yesterday. Creators from Disney, Nickelodeon, Dreamworks and Sony came to share what they learned over the years to students interested in following in their footsteps.
The ETC is all about helping students get their feet in the door within the industry. The club offers a variety of different assets, such as resume building, networking opportunities, internship opportunities, TV tapings and company tours.
The club invites experts with various areas of focus, such as business or creativity, for panels throughout the semester. This particular event was based on the creative side of the business, and it focused mainly on the animation industry.
The panelists discussed the importance of networking and how essential connecting is in order to thrive in the industry.
Paul Jun, co-founder & CEO of Filmocracy, regrets not understanding the value of networking at an early age. He used to only network when he needed a job; it wasn’t a constant in his early career.
“There’s a new startup mantra that goes around saying make friends, not contacts,” Jun said.
Jun also alluded to the fact that networking is more like tending to a garden than collecting a bunch of cards when you need them.
Jun wasn’t the only panelist echoing the importance of networking.“The idea of making friends and not contacts is super valid and important. The advice that I kind of wish I knew is you’re not going to be friends with everybody,” said Sean Gantka, a producer at Nickelodeon.
Despite forming good relationships with many people, there are some people he is unable to connect with. “It’s about having those genuine connections that matter,” said Gantka. When it comes to finding help for projects, he often works with the friends he’s made by networking.
The panelists also shared the reality that comes from beginning a career in entertainment and animation.
Artists go into the field hoping to create their own work and develop their own projects. Gantka made it clear to the students that the reality of working for a large company means they begin their careers working on other people’s projects.
“When I get interns that come in, they’re like, ‘I want to create my own show.’ That’s awesome! What are you going to do for the 20 years before that?” said Gantka.
Gantka has seen creativity die when an artist’s expectations are not met, so he felt it was important that the audience understood what they were getting themselves into.
Working in Animation comes with a lot of stress and problem-solving, so Miguel Baltazar, an animator at Dreamworks, enjoys being able to be silly at work. At the Dreamworks office, animators have nerf gun battles that help alleviate their stress.
“It’s a way not to take ourselves too seriously — to have that flexibility to let loose and have fun,” Baltazar said.
The speakers at the event also highlighted the importance of seeing the meaning behind previous work or educational experiences. Sean Gantka discussed how important it is to not see past work involvement at face value.
“Don’t look at like, ‘Oh, I’m flipping burgers,’ but what are you doing? You’re assembling something. You’re working as a team. Look at the greater skill sets and understand whatever it is you’re doing and how it will make you better at whatever you’re going to do,” Gantka said.
Another heavily discussed subject was satisfaction from work. The panelists discussed how much they love their job and going to work every morning, but how it is still hard work.
“It’s similar to a relationship. There’s going to be hardships. You’re not always going to agree. You’re going to hate each other once and awhile. But ultimately, the good parts of it heavily outweigh and outnumber the bad ones, and then you know it’s a pretty good relationship,” Gantka said.
The amount of stress they experience regularly does not take from the love they have for working in such a creative environment.
When people become adults, they lose their sense of childhood, but their career allows them to bring it back, Baltazar said.