How to get your first real job...
Getting into the "Industry".
The one thing they don't teach you in school or Uni is "How to" get a real job.
My name is James COlmer, currently a Feature Film Concept Artist (Superman Returns, House of Wax, See No Evil).
I actually started out the same as everyone else...I went to Art School, where I soon learned that Teachers are basically all the people who didn't or couldn't make it as Artists.
After I finished, I sat around for about 9 months wondering what to do, during which time I also decided as no-one wanted my work, it was obviously no good, so I destroyed all 5 years worth of life drawing and paintings...probably the one thing I really regret. Looking back there was some excellent work there.
I decided I wanted to work in film, BUT HOW?
I saves $900 and flew to the Gold Coast and moved into the Trailer Park opposite Warner Bros. Studios.
Every Night I would crawl across the grounds next to the studios into the set of "Streetfighter". During that time I always "pretended" I belonged. I had the attitude that I belonged there.
Eventually I made firend, met people, looked at lists on walls, memorised phone numbers etc.
One day someone told me they were crewing for "The Phantom" so I went down to the Production Office and asked to see the Art Director.
He seemed impressed with my work and took me on as Props Maker.
Once you're in..YOU'RE IN...unless you do something really bad, then..."you'll never work in this town again".
I did that once and it was 4 years before I got back in again.
Eventually I started my own studio and began to advertise. I bought 2 computers, Bryce 4, Photoshop 4 and began practicing.
Although I was running a Prop Shop / Creature studio, I would also advertise as a Concept Artist, hoping to get work.
One day, I heard about a new Film, and decided I had just enough good Concept Artwork to show to a Production Designer.
He liked my work, but was looking for a particular thing. Not to be pushed aside, I offered to come back the next day with EXACTLY what he was looking for, and for free.
Needless to say, he liked it and gave me what was to be my first Feature Film job as a Concept Artist.
During that time I bought a Wacom tablet and really got to know how to use it.
I came away from the 10 weeks work with a great new portfolio, a lot of new friends, and most importantly...a CREDIT.
"HAVE CREDIT WILL TRAVEL."
Look back at the start of this message...what did you think when I wrote down my credits?
This is what Production Designers are looking for, besides Great work.
Forget school, work hard, make a great portfolio and ...BE BOLD.
As for money...I currently ask $1800 - $2200AU for a standard 50 hour week, but will be stepping up a bit now to around $2200 - $2800AU.
Freelance can be up to $200 an hour depending on the duration and royalties / assignment of rights.
Remember, your work is you..it's original, creative and you made it out of nothing...ART is CREATION. You are giving life to something. Don't give it away to crafty people who can't do it themselves.
Feature Film Concept Artist