There are two types of people in the world: Those who respond to encouragement, and those who respond to the hard truth of realistic criticism. I’m one of the latter. Sometimes tough love is what we need to progress. Sometimes a former student will ask me why they can’t get a job. Or they’ll complain that there are no jobs out there to apply for; at least no jobs that don’t require experience. Let me tell you right now, if you aren’t getting call-backs from studios, it’s because your demo reel and resume aren’t good enough. It’s that simple. That’s not a dig at you. Don’t take it personally. My own reel isn’t good enough to land me an interview at my dream studio either (Naughty Dog) …YET!
The truth is, if your reel is good enough and shows that you have the skills that studios are looking for, you will get called back. “But every job requires 3 years of experience!” No they don’t. They’re trying to weed people out. If your demo reel is good enough, they’ll hire you. Now, don’t expect to get a senior or lead position without experience. They won’t hire you as lead character artist if you haven’t shipped any AAA titles. But you can get your foot in the door. The reason you aren’t is because of your reel.
There are two ways you can respond to this: Get offended and give up, or get serious and double down. The universe doesn’t owe you a career in 3D animation. There’s no seat in some studio with your name on it. You have to carve your own path and make your own name. Turn yourself into a legend! It’s not going to be easy. You aren’t going to graduate and just fall into a job. You WILL fail. A LOT!
So which kind of person are you? Will you respond to this by deciding that it’s too hard for you? Will you shrug it off, load up your WoW character, and waste another evening NOT progressing? Or will you dust off your demo reel, take a hard honest look at it, identify the weakest piece, eliminate it, and make something brand new to replace it?
The hard truth is that you never get to stop doing that if you want to get anywhere in this industry. I don’t know who told you otherwise. The good news is that if you keep doing it, eventually people will pay you to do it. But you never get to stop because somewhere out there, someone else isn’t stopping. If you rest on your laurels, you will be surpassed.
This motivational rant isn’t intended to come off as mean-spirited, although I know some people will take it that way. It’s just the cold hard truth that everyone needs to understand. I didn’t understand either until I met someone who didn’t give me false encouragement but instead looked me in the eye and said “The reason you aren’t getting a job is because you aren’t good enough to get a job….yet.” Let that spark a brand new fire in the depths of your soul rather than extinguishing it!