Preparing for Launch
Four essential items the independent animator must have to make a positive impression on the people who do the hiring.
Now that you’ve carved out your niche, incorporated your business (visit sunbiz.org) and set up a business checking account (visit your local bank), there are four things we need to cover that no successful independent animator can be without: business cards, a presentation, a laptop and a website.
The Business Card
Your business card layout needs to contain all of the essentials: name, e-mail, phone, website. However, it also needs to be visually representative of your niche. It should include the word “animation” or another short phrase somewhere on the card that explains what you do or how you can solve a client’s problems. Stay away from lengthy descriptions or a list of bullet points. Go for a short, concise, unique selling proposition (look this up online) that reflects your niche.
By all means, stay away from do-it-yourself business card kits. As tempting as it may sound to print and cut your own, even the most accomplished trimmer will produce a paltry number of imperfect cards that only succeed in communicating your inability to acquire something as simple as professional business cards. And don’t think you’re somehow saving money by attempting this feat. There are plenty of business card specials to be found online from reputable, professional printing companies that will print high-quality, custom cards on extra-thick, high-gloss or matte card stock and ship them to you for as little as $20.
Your website needs to match your business cards and should be oozing with your niche. As a standard rule, sites should be clean, simple, easy to use and devoid of any of the latest whiz-bang plug-ins that might cause trouble for visitors trying to view and navigate your site. Don’t make your website a puzzle unless you want to guarantee no one will ever see what you have to offer.
The home page of your site should contain a demo reel showing your best work first and some very compelling reasons why people should trust and hire you. Easy-to-find contact information should be readily available so potential clients can effortlessly contact you if interested. To save time and ensure compliance with the latest CSS and SEO standards, peruse the thousands of quality templates — many of them free — available online.
Your in-person presentation needs to be short, sweet, to the point and consistent with your website, business cards and niche. This can be a video, a Flash presentation, a PowerPoint document or even HTML, as long as you can play and pause it as needed from your laptop. If your prospect has a projector or other in-house equipment, you may use their gear, but be sure to arrive a few minutes early to familiarize yourself with the setup — and always bring your laptop as backup. Remember, a laptop is only good for small presentations to one or two people. Larger groups will require a projector or large-screen TV. Thankfully, most larger companies have these readily available.
It is crucial to start your presentation with a bang. Create an intro that wakes up the audience and shows your very best work first. After you dazzle them with the opening, the body of your presentation should focus on what solutions you can provide the client and why they should work with you. Stay away from lengthy descriptions and speeches of your personal history, your favorite car or how many friends your cat has on Facebook. Instead, the presentation needs to focus on the client, their needs and how you are the one and only solution.
Keep your presentation free of word clutter. Never use long sentences or paragraphs, because no one will read it and it mucks up your beautiful design. What little text is included in the presentation should be keywords or short bullets that serve as talking points and are absolutely not to be read word-for-word. Face the audience and be open and friendly. If you want to learn more about your client and keep them engaged, you need to ask questions, listen and establish an open rapport with the audience.
There are droves of books that meticulously document case studies, statistics and offer detailed insight to each of the above topics and concepts. But if you use these general guidelines as a foundation, you will be well equipped on your journey to becoming a successful independent animator. Martin Grebing is an award-winning animation director and producer who focuses on smaller studios and alternative markets. Today, he provides creative consulting and is the owner-operator of Funnybone Animation, a boutique studio that produces animation for a wide range of clients and industries. He can be reached via www.funnyboneanimation.com.
dler, C.C.H. Pounder as Dr. Amanda Waller, Greg Ellis as Captain Boomerang and Giancarlo Esposito as Black Spider. The Blu-ray combo ($24.98) includes special features Arkham Analyzed: The Secrets Behind the Asylum, The Joker’s Queen: Harley Quinn, an advance look at the next DC animated feature and four episodes from the DC Comics Vault. [Release date: August 12] making-of docus, commentary and more. John Musker and Ron Clements’ Hercules includes making-of and music features, and Ichabod & Mr. Toad comes with a Legend of Sleepy Hollow Storybook. Bedknobs and Musketeers also pack in a number of fun and informative extras. Any is a perfect excuse to get a good TV-induced brain rot going before you go back to hitting the books. [Release date: August 12]