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Mind Your Business: How to Never Get That Job

Mark Simon has some horror e-stories. Deal with it!

Mark Simon receiving a fiery email. Courtesy of Mark Simon.

I recently experienced e-crazy. It's a great example of how some people are their own worst enemy in their job search. And I'm not alone. I found examples of e-anger from other studio owners, even on Pixar's job website.

Many artists wonder why they find it so hard to find a job via the internet or email. I've said before, people hire who they know and trust. This brief story helps illustrate the value in working with people you know and trust.

Like many studio owners, I get samples emailed to me all the time. Some are incredible, most are average and some are incredibly bad.

I just received one in the incredibly bad list, but luckily the guy also had an unusually over-blown and unearned ego.

Another quick note, when studios receive emails, like the one below, filled with misspellings and lacking all knowledge of punctuation, we expect the demo to be just as bad.

His opening note (copied exactly as it was received):

Mark Simon,

can you give me somework, pretty please, test me! i can edit videosI can animate using blender 3d. i almost have blender3d masterd, I can UV map like a pro, i just need to master rigging. im learning the new blender 2.5 beta right now.

come help your california staving artist.   enjoy the shows,. what you will see, i taught myself!

Willie Nelson And  Toby Keith (link to his demo on youtube)

Let me explain what I then saw on this 'staving artists' demo reel. Obvious use of existing models in a 3D program. No animation, just jerky movements with no obvious story. Weird twitching of various elements. Parts of bodies moving is opposing directions. No ease in or out, just A to B, start and stop. Non-existent lip sync. Over-blown lighting. Cutting between shots with no timing, no reason for any shot, etc. It's obvious this guy has no training. Basically, his demo was a total piece of shit. My 11-year-old boys edit better.

I shared his demo with Curtis Sponsler, who owns AniMill, for an independent review: "I've never received a piece-of-shit like that before (I just ate my lunch, and now I've got to eat it all over again!)"

I share this with you to give you the background to my response. When someone is so utterly clueless in their letter, espousing how great they are, and they have no talent what-so-ever, someone needs to be honest with them. However, I did it nicely and I always try to offer advice. He admitted he's self-taught, so he needs to get proper training.

I, like most studio owners, am very busy. I didn't have to respond at all, but felt it's better to be honest and try to give him guidance.

My response:

Name,

Thanks for your note.

I took a quick look at your sample. You need to learn how to edit and how to animate. While you say you can edit, your sample shows that you do not understand the principles of editing. Your animation also is just elements moving. There seems to be no reason for the movements or any character imbued in it.

You need to start with some classes and learn the basics before you will land a job in animation.

This is not meant to be harsh. I want you to understand that you do not have the fundamentals yet to be an editor or animator. You don't know what you don't know.

I wish you luck.

Let's take a look at how quickly this conversation goes to hell. (Warning: this is not for children to read.) Note, I never responded to his outrageous emails.

His first response:

Wait till i animate your nasty dirty ass, who the fuck do u think your insulting u dont got shit coming tell your homosexual friends to leave the holiness of maariage alone or i will make war!

YOu insulted the rong man fruit cake!

His second response, 15 minutes later:

You need to understand you are a LIAR!! IM going to animate your dirty nasty ass lol

Prop 8 Rocks!

Can you imagine what a nightmare it would have been to hire someone like this? Granted, no one will hire this person based on the sample he sent me, but even if his demo was great, he wouldn't be worth hiring because of his attitude.

I love how he jumps into name calling and pulls out his support for Prop 8 and his stance against gay marriage. (Note: I am completely for the rights of gays.)

The biggest threat? He's going to animate my nasty ass. In what way is that supposed to scare me.

I also love how he calls me a liar. Obviously my note hit a nerve. Dude, you've got to have a thicker skin, especially if you send out such terrible work.

Here's something else to remember. I share this info with my studio friends. They share these stories with me too. When artists have this attitude, it gets around quick.

By hiring people we know, we avoid having this type of unexpected temper flare up in the middle of a production.

Tony Grillo, owner of Flinch Animation, explains this well. "I have a very talented man today, but his skills were not always so sharp. Many was the time I had to get on the phone or email and really push him to do better. His attitude was -- and still is -- positive and receptive, 100% of the time. Through his actions (not just his words), he always made it clear that he wanted to learn, to improve, to excel. Even to this day, though I know there may be stronger designers out there -- but he's always on my short list, and he remains busy to this day because I can count on him."

Even the mighty Pixar is not immune to the irrational slings and arrows of e-communication. On the Pixar Canada job posting page, found online at http://www.canadiananimationresources.ca/?p=1707, a person who obviously did not get the listed job, didn't agree with Pixar's decision.

 I am going to come right out and say it.

This is BULLSHIT.

Yes, Pixar Canada. You're full of shit.

The reason I say that is because I just saw (and applied for) the same position last month, and another similar one in April. I have an MSc in computer science, I'm very well qualified to work there, and I've got a wealth of relevant professional experience. I didn't even get a call back.

Now, they're looking for TD's, and they're insisting on 3 years of industry experience. They've raised their requirements. Why?

Speaking as someone who is more than capable of working as a lighting TD, but who has not yet been employed in the visual effects industry, I think this is ridiculous. They're handicapping themselves by adding this restriction. After all, in order to get someone with three years of experience, it means they either have to steal someone from another company, or they have to get someone who was canned. That means they're hiring someone who is either disloyal or incompetent.

Now, I admit I'm not perfect. I'm quite terrible with interviews. I tend to come across like a schmuck. I'm a bit of an absent-minded professor type, but I also look ten years younger than I am, so people just assume that I'm a brainless kid with no skill at all. None of that is true, though. I'm very good at what I do, and I'm a very effective communicator on the job. I just hate answering questions about myself. What do they expect, though? A place like Pixar should know that brilliant people come in every shape, size, and personality. So what gives?

In this case, though, I haven't even gotten as far as an interview. I didn't even get a call back. I don't live in BC, so maybe that's the problem… but again, why are they being so picky? I would move in a heartbeat. What's the difference? Do they want good people or not?

Whatever their reasons, they should know they're neglecting someone who meets all of these qualities:

Not only do I "meet" these requirements, but for some of them, I would be "da man." Some of them come with time, and some of them arguably can't be taught at all. So, by insisting on industry experience, Pixar Canada, I think you're shooting yourselves in the foot.

Way NOT to go.

Here's what I love. We're talking Pixar and this person admits to never having worked in the effects industry. He says he's terrible in interviews. He's also terrible online.

"I'm an effective communicator but I hate answering questions." Do you see any problem with that statement? Why is Pixar being so picky? Really? They are PIXAR.

Pixar, way TO go.

A friend of mine, Dave Sylvester, sent me another classic example of online anger and idiocy. Following are two emails sent to a software company three hours apart, copied exactly as they were received:

I downloaded the mascot version of "logocreator" software and attempted to build mine religious, political, business, science & technology organization logo. But it didn't enable me make it maybe because it is not the full version.

I have four-five pictures I should incorporate them into a logo, along with 3-4 lines of text information about. It is what should be displayed at my organization websites' index page. If I buy the software, will it enable me incorporate all of the pictures as well as the text information?

Craft is mine, Sincerely, xxxxxxxxxxxx

Four hours later, he sent the follow up:

I had requested product information some hours ago. But I don't want it anymore! Where in the hell I wrote you a letter you said you have got my letter? You are a swindler book of demonology yalucifer who blasphemed Elohim along with your Communist, anti-Israeli, Satanic conspirator blacks, lady witch solia ( the young, the old) whom I have banned you from my Hebraist Bet Elohim, forevermore! I don't buy anything from you ever! bye forevermore!

Say that 10 times fast! One thing most angry online communications have in common is the total lack of understanding of the English language, even though it seems to be their native tongue.

One final story: Years ago, when my wife and I and Dr. James Irvine wrote a book called Your Resume Sucks, we started marketing it on the web and via email. One person who got an email about our book wrote back a short and harsh response:

"My resume doesn't suck. YOU DO!"

Come on. It's the title of a book, not a personal attack. However, if I was to take a wild guess as to the quality of that person's resume …

We actually thought his note was so funny we framed it.

Don't worry. I will still try to respond to most artists who send me their work, time allowing. Just remember, when you ask someone to review your work, they may actually be honest. Deal with it.

Post your horror e-stories here.

Mark Simon is an award-winning animation director/producer. He is also the co-founder of www.SellYourTvConceptNow.com. His book, Your Resume Sucks, is ready to insult you at www.YourResumeSucks.biz.

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