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  • George Samuels

20 Tips on Entering the Animation Industry

Australian animators Katrina Mathers, Jack Parry, Huni Bolliger, and Darren Bell, share some wisdom on breaking into the animation industry.

On the 23rd of June, I attended a Careers in Animation Forum at the Melbourne International Animation Festival (MIAF). These were the notes I took on the night:

Katrina Mathers

Katrina Mathers
  1. Volunteered time for thankless jobs

  2. Cold-called and eventually landed a job as a receptionist

  3. Kept networking until she landed a job as a Producer

  4. Spent a lot of her own time making films

  5. Did a lot of diff type of job roles (e.g. acting, writing, etc.)

  6. Submitted animation to St.Kilda film festival

  7. Got FilmVic support

All that led to meeting some key industry people. In closing, Katrina said, “One thing leads to another. Take opportunities and meet inspiring people.” At the time of this writing, she is touring around promoting her short film Nullarbor.

Jack Parry

What he did to make it into the industry:

  1. Threw away a promising career for his dream.

  2. Knowing what he wanted attracted him to the likes of indie animation king, Bill Plimpton, at a pub in Germany.

  3. Worked his way up by acquiring skills from other companies, then created his own company.

Some quotable quotes included:

  1. “Know what you want. Don’t listen to other people’s opinions about what you should be doing.”

  2. “If you want to get somewhere, just pretend you’re there already.”

  3. “Don’t let the machine get in the way of your aspirations. Let your creativity drive you.”

Huni Bolliger

Huni shared similar views to the other speakers, but added:

  1. Make films and submit to film festivals

  2. Network a lot and meet other animators or film-makers

Darren Bell

Darren is a compositor at Iloura, who’s worked on feature films such as Australia and Mary & Max. Here is some of the advice he gave:

  1. Figure out your purpose

  2. It benefits to have a partner who supports your aspirations

  3. Teach at universities to help with your connections and network

  4. He taught himself how to sculpt to further his digital skills

  5. Networks and connections really pay off

Q&A Session

Value of formal education? Support, accountability, guidance and expertise. Good film is about story and/or writing. Meet other people. As a career, specialize in something, then develop your other skills outside of that.

Where are you interested in going? What are you good at?  Find an intersection. Find a niche. After parties are usually the best part of networking. Be yourself. Get to know people. Go to festivals. Meet people. Don’t be shy. Share your passion and it won’t feel like networking. Get people’s cards. Have your showreel on a disc, ready to hand out. Have a card, or something tangible that a person can take away with them. Timidity is your worst enemy.


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