January 24, 2017

Quarter-life Crisis

By Andrew at 7:33 AM

At the beginning of 2015 as I was re-evaluating after the closure of PDI I reached an intriguing juncture. I had two degrees, one in animation and one in computer science, and work experience in technology to go along with the degrees. Couple that with living just north of Silicon Valley, and I had some serious decision making to consider.

Since my junior year of college I had developed an interest in production management. Producing an animated short film with a small team had been a rewarding experience, and I realized at that point that I wanted to produce again eventually. However, jumping into the film industry is not quite that simple, so I had been fortunate enough to enter the industry through my technical background, building industry experience albeit in a different department than I would have initially imagined.
After learning the render wrangling role and becoming fairly comfortable I had begun to explore production opportunities. A year later, however, without much traction aside from volunteering for organizational tasks such as note taking, schedule proposals, and spreadsheet optimization, I had very little actual production experience to show. As I was not making any progress on that front I began to investigate Technical Director roles, which would have leveraged my combination of technical proficiency and animation background.
And then I suddenly was looking for a new job in general. I think I actually needed that push in order to actually pursue production, as otherwise I was a bit too comfortable to take significant steps toward another role. Yet I was faced with a decision, what industry would I look at for work? My work experience was in technology, but that was not where my interest was. Sure, I appreciated and still value to this day the experience I had in wrangling, but it was by no means my ultimate goal.
As I finished up my wrangling role and into the following weeks I ended up having fairly little time to consider these questions. But I established fairly early on that I would indeed pursue production management roles at film studios, at least until I reached a reasonable point where I financially needed to start working again. Thankfully I had saved up a bit to live on for a few months. And I would definitely not turn down any technical offers that might come my way, at least not until I took a closer look to see if there may be a fit.
So there I was, prepared to pursue production roles but open to technical opportunities. My resume was geared toward production management, and I had conversations with several studios, one of the earliest being Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) but for a production engineering (technical) role, which I, rather quickly, realized that I was not prepared for. However, within two weeks and a couple of applications later I was talking with a recruiter from ILM again, this time about a production assistant role! Two phone interviews and the second week of unemployment later I received an offer to help out with the Warcraft movie’s visual effects by handling overtime dinners, working lunches, and craft services!
While I ended up being unemployed for a very short time, that time lead to several long hikes to consider next steps in life and career, particularly as I had moved to the west coast for a specific job in the first place. I am very grateful for how the transition played out and that I was even able to take a bit of time to enjoy some rest in between. Fortunately my quarter-life crisis led to a role that I have enjoyed immensely!

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