Tip of the Week - Networking

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It's been a while, and I want to get back into talking about Tips of the Week for both professionals and beginners. Some of these tips are focused on one or the other, but today marks another return to Tips of the Week for both. Today I'll be going into networking. This isn't your computer networking via LAN or WAN, this is social networking with actual people. One of the things about this industry, and almost any other industry as well, is your networking and peer group. Visual effects, and filmmaking as a whole, involves a huge number of people. Depending on your interaction with these people and your professionalism towards the job will make people want to work with you and respect you. This is advantageous as you move up the ladder, from either a comper to supervisor, or a runner to manager.

I've learned a bit as I move up, and today I'll share the knowledge I've gained so far. While I am going to focus on the visual effects side of networking, the tips I'll be sharing can be most likely used in any field of work.

As an artist in this field, you'll be called upon to create a number of different looks and have to work with a number of different personalities. In each situation, calmness is always the answer. Think before you act, because there is always (usually) a reason for things to be done the way they're being explained. Regardless of what you think is right, there is someone above you that is paying your paycheck for you to create their look. As you excel in this environment, you'll realize why certain things are done the way they are, from the lack of sufficient greenscreen on set, to no tracking markers. As such, be respectful. Most of the time the supervisors that are directing you are supervisors for a reason. They've been in the trenches and know what's going on.

Yes. Yes. Yes. These are the words in which you will be accustomed to saying. Most people don't like negative reactions, so your job if given a task is to say, yes, it can be done. Of course, you should append that with a "it may take a little longer" or "it may cost a little more" if it truly is much tougher to reach the intended goal. Your production manager should be on top of this anyway.

I'm not a very social creature, as I like to relax instead of attending huge parties (especially these days!), so this next tidbit is more of do as I say, not as I do. These opportunities come once in a lifetime. Most of my networking these days is through visual effects collegues and the random people I meet at VES and Emmy events. Several years ago at Siggraph, I attended a Digital Domain party somewhere in LA. I was pretty much new to the entire scene, and managed to receive some party tickets from the discreet booth. I only knew the recruiter at DD, and had been in contact with him several times over the past years, and met him again at the party. While parties are definitely a place to network, they are not always the place to talk about work. I learned this while chatting to Laurence about the reel I had just submitted earlier in the day. His reply? "I'm here at this party to drink among friends, not talk about work, let's talk about this later". Of course that's paraphrased, but you get the picture. At any big event, most people don't want to talk about work.. Sure, it eventually gets there anyway, but my rule of thumb is to not initiate it until it comes out in some other form. Most of my peers are deeply addicted to film and visual effects, we're into the filmmaking experience. We'll see movies just because they suck and see what not to do, and we'll see them alone if we have to, which I've done on more than one occasion!

Will there be another Tip next week? Keep checking in to find out!

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