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Donating Your Time and Talent in Today’s Animation Industry February 10, 2012

Posted by shannonmuir in Advice, animation, Articles, Mentorship.
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Today, many people in the industry find it tougher to be giving of their time and talent.  Time’s hard to come by because often you’re scrambling to find work on a show (either staff or freelance), and then finding the next show to move on to when that one’s wrapped.  Also, especially for the writers, there seems to be a fear out there that if they listen to people’s ideas, and either already have something planned or later inadvertently do something similar, that they’ll be sued.  These factors can make sharing one’s time very tough.

So, how can you be generous and assist others while overcoming these concerns?

Volunteer your time to be on panels at conventions.  These provide moderated environments where you can answer people’s questions in a public forum.  Perhaps your answers can aid or inspire people you might otherwise not interact with to achieve their goals.  It can also be good public relations and get your name out there — but, in my opinion, that should really be a happy side effect.  Admittedly there are some who only do it for the exposure though, so don’t be surprised.  I’ve volunteered for panels at both the Gathering of the Gargoyles and for several years at Comic-Con International: San Diego.  It should also be something to try working into your schedule simply on a networking level; yes, it takes time but it could indirectly help you land that next job.  You never know who you might meet at the convention!

If you have a little more time, look for charity organizations that can set you up to be a mentor to a youth whose goals match your area of expertise.  These would be controlled, monitored, and documented arrangements.  However, if you go this route, be certain that the organization is trustworthy and has a longstanding history of helping youth.  Due to personal schedule restrictions, I’ve never had the opportunity to be a mentor (but would love to), but in other ways have had contact with two Los Angeles-area based organizations I feel comfortable to recommend as examples.  One is Create Now! (formerly Write Now!), which deals with institutionalized at-risk kids from ages 5 to 21 and mentoring them in the creative arts.  Another is the Fulfillment Fund, which covers more than the film and television, but has a big amount of support from the entertainment industry; the goal of this organization is to identify promising disadvantaged or disabled youth, and help them pursue advanced education to reach their dreams. Investigate and see if there are similar programs in your local area, and get their history and examples of places they’ve worked with.

So, there are ways that you can give use your background and interest in the animation industry to help others – and this doesn’t have to be something you just do at one time of the year.

(originally published 2001 at Suite101.com)

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