Tips on How to Get Hired at a Top Studio
The work done in Christopher Robin just landed Framestore yet another nomination for an Academy Award in Visual Effects. If they take home the Oscar it will sit alongside 3 former wins- 2018’s Blade Runner 2049, 2013’s Gravity, and 2007’s The Golden Compass. Though exciting, this is nothing new for Framestore having had so much success in the film and advertising industry already. They are known for bringing extraordinary ideas and imagination to life.
We got a chance to talk to the lead recruiter and get the inside scoop on what they look for in new artists, the hiring process and what to expect once you're in.
With your vast success in the area of visual effects what would you say is a major contributing factor?
At Framestore we feel that our success is due to two factors. One is our desire and ability to sit somewhere right at the centre of the trio of innovation, technology and creativity. For us the most important thing is storytelling and how we can use technology or invent technology in order to tell the best story we can. The second factor is our people. At Framestore we are looking for people who are curious, who love to learn and who want to make the best pictures and tell the best stories. Without a combination of talent, technology and creativity we don’t believe we would have achieved what we have over the years.
When you begin looking for new talent what do you tend to look for most in terms of personal qualities?
There are a few personal qualities that are important for us. Obviously we are looking for people who are great team players and who can communicate and collaborate effectively in a team environment. Secondly we are looking for people who are able to both respond to and deliver effective feedback. The ability to take a step back from your own work and to accept critique is absolutely vital to what we do, as is the willingness to share knowledge and critique with others. Finally, we look for people who are life-long learners and who believe that there is always something new that they can be learning and getting involved in.
Advertising and film projects can range from a few artists to hundreds, where does Framestore stand today and what are the near-future goals in terms of hiring?
At present we have almost 3000 employees from producers to engineers to artists and everything in between. We have offices all over the world including Canada, the UK, the USA, China and India. The biggest growth for us in 2019 will be in our Indian office but we have opportunities available in all of our studios most of the time as there is plenty of work to be getting on with!
Can you explain the different departments and how they work? Do they collaborate with one another? What is a typical workflow for a project?
The number and variety of departments that will get involved depend on the kind of project we are working on and the timeline we have to complete that project. A 12 month film project may have more than 15 departments involved but a two week commercial might have as few as 1 if it’s just a compositing project. So there is huge variation.
However, no matter how many or varied the departments they absolutely are required to collaborate with each other and a complex film shot could have as many as 30 artists from multiple disciplines that work on it at one time or another. A typical workflow for most projects will begin with some kind of design or concept art phase, move on to the production or shoot phase when we may be doing previs and/or data collection and then will move into asset build and shot production.
What does the hiring process look like from posting to offer?
Once we have advertised a role we will collate applications and the first sift of those applications will be completed by our global recruitment team. We will then recommend certain applications to our heads of department or supervisors to review and they will select who they would like to meet for interview. The interview will generally be conducted by the head of department/supervisor and a member of our recruitment team after which we will either progress to discussing a job offer with a candidate or will let them know that they are not quite the right fit for our current needs.
Do you typically hire outsource studios/freelancers or do you tend to keep everything in-house? Why?
Typically in film we don’t work with freelancers as, due to client confidentiality, we are not able to have our work outside of the studio and everyone who is involved in the work is required to be an employee. However, for shorter form projects such as commercials we make much more use of freelance talent. Outsource studios we do use from time to time and largely for high volume work such as tracking or paint and roto.
Based on all the hiring you've done, what are the common red flags that artists should be careful about or work on the most?
I think a key thing is to be prepared for the interview and to be willing and able to speak in detail about your work, being self critical of the things you show us and able to identify where you might improve things next time.
Self-awareness is really important to us in an artist.
Additionally I think it’s important to make sure that the work you present is tailored to the studio you are applying to. So often we talk about an artist having ‘a showreel’ as if the one reel will work no matter who you are applying to. I feel that your showreel should be a little more like your cover letter, it should be tailored and tweaked wherever possible to be really focused towards the role and kind of work that you are applying for. At Framestore we very rarely get involved in full CG projects and are largely focused on visual effects/live action work so we are looking for highly photo-real content on showreels for example.
Once hired, what does the onboarding process look like?
Every artist who joins our team has a dedicated mentor who is there to help them through their first few days/weeks. Additionally every team has training materials available that we will walk an artist through when they first start in order to get them up to speed with our pipeline and/or any proprietary tools in their department. The onboarding process varies in length depending on the department they are joining and how much pipeline/tool set they need to pick up before they can begin working on live projects.
Do you tend to promote from within? Is it realistic to think that an artist can begin as an intern at Framestore and move up?
Promoting from within is hugely important to us at Framestore and career development is a real focus for our teams. There are lots of examples of people moving up within the company, from an Oscar winning Creative Director who started as a runner to our Global MD of Film who started as a receptionist. We absolutely support and encourage our artists to grow and develop with us.
Top advice for ambitious artists out there looking to make it in the visual effects area?
My top advice is to be persistent, keep working on personal projects if you don’t succeed straight away at finding the right job and stay in touch with the recruitment teams as so often in this industry it’s as much about timing your application right as it is about the quality of your work so you definitely shouldn’t give up at the first hurdle.
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