Now that we know what the journey is, let me tell you where I’m currently at. In order to do this I will have to rewind a little first. I mentioned earlier I went to school at the University of Toledo to study animation. Although I’m very happy with my time there it might not have prepared me as well as a school here in Los Angeles might have. The animation program was really just one animation class, and it was saved for seniors. The rest of it was graphic design and web design courses. After my first semester I was able to prove to my instructor that I was ready for the senior animation class, and took it my second semester. For the classes final project I made my first animated short called “ChessMate“. It was a story about a chess pieces that came to life after the people left. The king did not appreciate what he had (his queen), and after seeing the other queen and her fallen king he got an idea. His greed to have more then he needed left him with nothing. After taking the only animation class my first year I ended up with nothing to move up to. I talked with my professor, and he basically created a class for me. It involved me coming up with another idea for an animated short, and then spending the semester working on it. Since I was going beyond what they taught I ended up having to teach myself. This turned out to be very valuable to me, since it forced me to figure things out on my own. I had to think outside the box to find better, faster ways of getting it finished. It also taught me to set my own goals, and milestones. At the end of the semester and many hours of late nights, and many computers rendering my shots for weeks I was left with my second and final animation I would do in college. I called this animation “Mediocrity” and it was about a creature that was not happy with his current life(I’m only now starting to see a underlining theme in my projects). He imagined his reflection in the mirror had a better life then he did, and thought if he could only get to that other side of the mirror things would be better. In the end he realized that he has to make his own life, and take action in improving the life that he has instead of trying to live someone else’s life. After college I moved back home to Canton, Ohio with my parents to get things in order before making the move out to Los Angeles.
I mentioned in the first post how after I got to California I found out I was heading down the wrong path to become an animation producer. It turns out that my education in animation was not a waste, and would only help me in becoming a producer. I feel it gave me an understand of animation that would help me be a better producer. As you already know I have this job at an animation studio. Getting this job was my first goal, and was key because I was able to learn so much about the industry. The last 6 years I have learned as much as I could. I wanted to understand how they did things inside and out. I worked in different departments, and the departments I did not work in I met with those who did to learn about them in my free time. I have met some incredible people along the way, and built lasting friendships.
In 2013 I had worked on enough animated films that I was able to get into the Producers Guild of America (PGA). Realizing that networking will be vital for me to start my own studio the PGA gives me a way to continue networking after I leave my current position.
I wanted to setup a social presence for my studio, so a few years ago I started creating accounts on the major social media sites. I once heard that casting directors on smaller budget projects have been known to choose talent based on the number of twitter followers. The idea is that by casting one of these actors or actresses with a large number of followers that they would instantly have a following for their film. This made me realize the power that having a large social media fan base can have. I now have accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Vimeo, and YouTube. Some are more developed then others, but I also been trying to keep it a secret that I plan on leaving. This makes it challenging to build followers from people I never met, and not promote it through my established personal networks. In addition to social network sites I have also setup a website for my studio. There are a lot of little things that I have done, and I’m always looking for new ways to get my business out there.
While I spent a lot of time setting up the ground work for my studio the hard part was actually figuring out how to get an animation studio up and running. I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to start without a lot or any capital. At first I thought I would start up other companies to raise money that I would use to invest in getting my animation company going. I thought of some crazy ideas for companies that did not require a lot of work that I could make money from. A few of these ideas included setting up gumball machines in different place, or starting a business making those road side advertisements. Each time I ran into issues that would require more work I found I was not motivated to continue. I had many other ideas, but I started to realize that none of them would succeed. Mostly because I was not passionate about any of them. They were just a way to make money for what I really was passionate about. I soon realized I needed to stick to what I was passionate about, and what I be willing to put my sweat and tears into.
I went back to focusing on animation, and trying to figure out a way to start with little to no capital. I stumbled across a small animation studio that was out of Washington DC that was making commercials, and seemed to be doing well. I was able to get in touch with one of the guys that started the studio, and talk to him about how they were doing it. I got a lot of great information from him, and it really got me thinking. I could do commercial work, and I would not have as many start-up costs. I could spend my time finding clients, and once I have a project I would bring on the needed freelancers. I would get paid by the client, and in turn would pay the freelancers. I have been building a list of freelancers in different areas of expertise that are interested that I can call when I start a project. It is beneficial to them since it is one more source for them to get work, and saves me the time of having to find people after I get a project. Once I’m on my own I plan to start with this approach first, and see how it goes. My next big challenge is finding a way to build my portfolio.
I hope you will join me on the rest of my journey by subscribing to this blog. This can be done by email via the prompt on the sidebar, and also please leave me any comments below. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@MillerAnimation). Only Time Will Tell.