During 2021 we collaborated with several animation studios to hold portfolio reviews for women within the UK animation industry. These reviews were held with the aim of developing portfolios to achieve the individual career goals of those who applied.
When studios are crewing up, they’ll often look at your showreels first. This process can quite quick which means there’s not as much time to dig into a website, so the clearer you can be on your showreel the better for the studio. It helps to add notes to each clip in your showreel listing the software you used and what your role was – designed, animated, directed etc.
If you want to work for a particular studio, make sure your showreel includes work that relates to what the studio produces. Make sure the work in your portfolio connects with the work being produced by the studios you’re contacting; showcase animation styles that reflect those studios. You don’t have to have a specific style, especially as a freelance animator, but it’s good to show what style of animation you’d be most suited to and most interested in.
Make it concise, less than a minute ideally 45 seconds, only keeping in your best work. Don’t feel like you need to hang on too long shots, if a studio is interested in something they’ll find the rest of the project online or contact you about seeing the entire piece of animation. Remember only put work in that you want to be doing, because that’s the work you’re going to attract.
Keep your emails brief, stating who you are and why you’d like to work with that studio. Pick out a couple of projects from the studio’s site that are relevant to the kind of work you want to create.
Tailor your emails, for example if you are looking for an animation job you can include a gif in your email.
If it’s been three months and you haven’t heard from someone it’s fine to send a follow up email. Just a reminder that you are still around and still interested in working with them. Producers get a lot of emails so don’t be disheartened if you haven’t heard back. Sometimes it’s just about timing, a project may be there now where it wasn’t before.
It’s a good idea to have a small amount of text on each project. It puts your projects into context, helping people to understand how the project came about, its purpose and what role you played in it.
It’s helpful to clearly state the software you are most comfortable with in your bio if you are looking for crew work.
If you really dislike working in certain styles, consider not including them in your portfolio. However, if your main priority is getting work, and that style is a good source of income then include it. Hopefully, later you’ll start getting enough regular work that you’ll be able to take the styles you don’t like working with out of your portfolio.
If there are studios you like, check their websites to see whether they offer internships and follow them on social media to keep up to date with any opportunities that they have.
If there are any directors you particularly love, it’s a good idea to reach out to them on Instagram / email / LinkedIn. Just drop them a note to say how much you like their work and ask if there is an opportunity to help them out on any of their projects. Especially if you’re starting out, it’s great to offer to work with a director as clean up / colour assistant as it’s a great way to make connections and learn from people who are more experienced.
If you want to become an animation director you may have to start off assisting on other people’s projects, which means you will need to continue making content in your own time. The more animations you share the better idea people will have about the work you’d like to make, and how you might work as part of a team. Remember this doesn’t need to be a series of epic short films! Gifs and micro shorts (around 5secs) are a great way to keep your portfolio up to date, your socials active and allows you to experiment with your style.