Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fail Post

Well this is my fail post.  It's a fail because I've completely failed at achieving my goals from the last post (to post more, to read 20 books, to get in shape, etc.)  So fail.  Big, big, fail on my part.

     That being said, it's been a helluva year.  Days after my last blog post I got hired at Gallus Entertainment, a great animation studio in Toronto.  Unfortunately, it was not a senior position and I took the job because I was coming off a 6 month layoff.  My confidence was at a low point, I felt disenfranchised and was becoming disenchanted with the entire animation industry.  Regardless, I pulled up my socks and jumped into the studio and did my best.  Really, I did.  I did not let my depression or negativity come out (which is rampant in this industry) for a second and tried to model myself into a beacon of positivity and let my work show that I had more to offer than just a butt in a chair clicking away.  In exactly 4 weeks of working like this, I was promoted to supervisor and became responsible for over 20 animators.

     It was the professional moment I had been working towards for nearly 10 years.  Gallus gave me total freedom to focus on getting the best out of the crew any which way I wanted to.  I decided to become the supervisor I've always wanted to have.  I implemented animation meetings (an open forum to let the workers feedback about the job and have them see what they say actually can affect change), a shot of the week rewards program and I shrank my quota so I could focus 100% on motivating seniors and educating juniors. I got to spend half my day in the edit suite making animation direction imput actually affecting final shots.  It was the BEST job I've ever had, due to the fantastic crew, liberal administration and the respect people gave me really brought me out of that dark place I was just a month prior.  I was able to secure a good mortgage rate and we bought our first house. But as we all know, happiness was and is fleeting...

     We lost the project due to creative differences after 2 months and had to lay off about 80% of the crew.  It was very teases us, gives us those little quips of what we think we want--maybe to provide incentive to dream bigger, to help realize potential.  Anyway, I went from working on a dream show to working on a somewhat less glamorous one at a different location and just went back to cranking out footage.  It wasn't ideal, but I stayed on until July and was eventually let go when the contracts dried up.  Luckily, I was reinvigorated and my confidence had been restored so I knew I there were some great jobs out there, I just had to find them.  Keep in mind, I had spent over 140 hours in the past year and a half testing for jobs (3 40 hour week-long take home tests, 3 on-site full day).  Oh, and we found out Janela was pregnant my last day of work.

   Eventually, with the added pressure of having a baby on the way, my search led me to Crowdwave Games...I was hired as Art Director for my first full time PERMANENT job in the games industry (with benefits t'boot).  We made games for big screen game-day events at sports venues...section races, energy meters, games for 20,000-100,000 people to play simultaneously.  Yet again, I got to lead a staggering talented team of artists to execute the owner's vision and to be as innovative as possible within a very specific set of parameters.  Challenge accepted.  And throttled.  With the team I had, we brought the quality of work (in both its aesthetics and innovative gameplay) to a new level and dream job #2 was in full effect.  And then they closed the studio and laid us all off.  Sigh.  Damn basketball lockout... 

     So there I was again...out on my toosh, looking for work.  Luckily, now with 2 directing credits on my CV.  That opened up some doors--though to no channels that actually got realized.  The next thing I knew, I got a call from a good friend in the industry who was trying to fill an animator's position at a small, new studio just west of the city.  Had we not been pregnant, I doubt I'd have taken the job...but reality is what it is, so I was back to commuting to another city for work--something I hadn't done since my first real industry job 9 years ago.   Hell, if I could commute 2 hrs each way as a starry-eyed heel-nipper right out of college, I can commute 1 hr and 15 minutes as a curmudgeony pappa-to-be today.
     It is now my 2nd week at this job and it's actually great.  Again, I tried to shelf the ego and contribute the best possible work I could, regardless if I felt like I wasn't in a position to realize my full potential.  But, the truth is, it's the individual who decides if one wants their potential realized...and I'm doing some of the nicest (though subtle) work I've done in years.  Also, the crew here is very "green", but ready to learn and improve without a bunch of bad habits that have to be unlearned.  It's a great place for me to shine and the boss is very open to hear what I can do beyond just being an animator and cranking out footage.

     So here we back with a steady job, a story and a litany of excuses why this blog failed fiercely this year.  I have a house/mortgage, a 6 month pregnant wife and a new job; all of which have contributed to not just changes in my life, but a full on paradigm shift.  I've been very fortunate to have all these opportunities come my way and I expect 2012 to be even crazier.  Now, time to get back in shape, read some books and make this updating thing at least once a week.  Anyway, thanks for reading and keeping abreast of my life.  The intermittent sketches I've added were all done in the past 2 weeks and I'm working on some doozies that will be posted over the next few months.

Cheers, best wishes and stay positive in hard leads to opportunities you won't see coming.