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How Bad Do I Want To Be Here? – The Sequel May 29, 2010

Posted by shannonmuir in Advice, animation, Memoir.
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No sooner did I share my earlier thoughts, I received an e-mail from one of my readers. This person thanked me for sharing my “priceless and free advice,” but also lamented that more horror stories were what had been expected from the lead-in.

In the months I’ve been looking for work that took place before I decided to write about this, several such experiences have occurred. So in the interest of letting people know what to look out for, I’ll share them.

Early on, I tried for a development assistant position at an animation studio. At that point I had not done much direct assistant work, though I had a lot of office skills (I’ve since been able to spend a few days temping on agent’s desks at talent agencies). Things felt very encouraging, especially at the first round interview. My drive and determination, coupled with wanting to learn more about development, seemed to make me a perfect fit. In the end, the people decided they wanted someone fresh out of school and deemed me overqualified. This broke my heart as frankly I did not, and still do not, understand it. I knew a lot about animation, but had no prior experience as an assistant to an executive.

Another promising position came my way for another development assistant position, this one with a small company that actually was doing a co-production with another entity in the San Fernando Valley. Actually, the Valley office would do most of the actual production, but an executive in the office where I interviewed also had involvement in the approval process. My job would have been to help facilitate those approvals plus regular assistant duties, an interesting hybrid between production and administrative duties. The interview felt great and I left excited; it didn’t hurt that I’d met this executive before during a career seminar and he remembered me. In the end, though, after weeks of waiting, this company promoted from within.

These, of course, were in addition to the other experience that sparked this topic.

I suppose, though, there’s a part of me that’s always for seeing the silver lining in the clouds. When I went to Comic-Con International: San Diego 2002, I’d been unemployed for six months with one slim possibility in the wings (one of the ones above that later didn’t materialize, by the way). Not spending day in and day out around animation, and more focused on just getting a job to survive, I feared losing touch. Then I came across a table where someone from Invader Zim was being featured, mainly to promote his comic work. Not only had this fellow worked in the show’s color department, he’s far better known as the voice of GIR, Zim’s silly sidekick robot (and my personal favorite character). There was a fair-size line for him, with many people holding little plush GIR dolls and other Zim memorabilia.

I tell you the truth, it made me cry. Happy cry. Cathartic cry. It was the first time I saw just the average person — not just someone in the industry, and the industry has a lot of Invader Zim fans — care about what all of us had worked on. I may never be one that they line up for years from now, but that’s OK; my happiness come from knowing I got to work with other great people to make the final product happen.

That’s how bad I want to be here. And if it means I have to suffer through the might-have-beens, or do other entertainment industry-related things until something direct in animation opens up again, I’m willing to do it.

Originally Written: Summer 2002

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