Build­ing Your Tal­ent Pool

Animation Magazine - - Opportunities -

Find­ing peo­ple you can re­li­ably del­e­gate tasks to is es­sen­tial be­cause there is just no way you can do it all by your­self.

Now that you’ve com­mit­ted to start­ing your own an­i­ma­tion business, bud­geted your six- to 12-month ramp-up pe­riod, de­vel­oped your niche and pre­pared your es­sen­tials, it’s time to start build­ing your team.

Keep in mind, be­ing in­de­pen­dent doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean work­ing alone. In fact, if you want to truly en­joy the in­de­pen­dent life­style, it is nec­es­sary to com­ple­ment your own skill set with ad­di­tional team mem­bers so that you can pro­duce and earn far beyond your own ca­pac­ity and keep the ma­chine run­ning while you’re on va­ca­tion.

Op­er­at­ing as a one-per­son army is fine for the ini­tial, short-term launch of your company, be­cause it gives you first-per­son per­spec­tive and in­valu­able in­sight on all as­pects of your business. How­ever, be­ing the butcher, baker and can­dle­stick maker 24-7-365 will burn you out and set you up for a fi­nan­cial roller-coaster ride.

For ex­am­ple, to ac­quire paid projects you must mar­ket, which may be the sin­gle most im­por­tant el­e­ment to any business’s suc­cess — see fu­ture col­umns for more on this. How­ever, when you’re mar­ket­ing, you’re not bill­able and are not earn­ing money be­cause you’re not do­ing pro­duc­tion. So, you mar­ket un­til you land a project then slam on the mar­ket­ing brakes and im­me­di­ately shift into pro­duc­tion mode. Then, you work around the clock for weeks or even months to fin­ish the project. How­ever, when the gig is com­plete there is no more work wait­ing for you be­cause you haven’t been mar­ket­ing. So, you go back to mar­ket­ing un­til you find another project and in the mean time you are not pro­duc­ing which means you are not earn­ing. Re­peat ad nau­seam.

Keep the Work Flow­ing

To rem­edy this, you will need to find about three to four de­pend­able an­i­ma­tion sub­con­trac­tors you can call upon as needed. This will al­low you to keep mar­ket­ing while they fo­cus on pro­duc­tion. Th­ese subs will more than likely work from home, have their own hard­ware and soft­ware, and will ne­go­ti­ate fees with you on a project-by-project ba­sis. Th­ese team mem­bers will work re­motely, thereby elim­i­nat­ing salary, in­surance and di­rect over­head costs as­so­ci­ated with hir­ing em­ploy­ees. There is a good chance you may not ever meet some of your subs face to face. They may even be in a dif­fer­ent coun- try. As long as they take di­rec­tion well, are re­spon­sive, pro­duce con­sis­tent, qual­ity con­tent and de­liver on time, they’re keep­ers. Be sure to show your ap­pre­ci­a­tion with a sin­cere thank you and a nice fee for their work ev­ery time.

As much as we love to en­ter­tain the con­cept of hir­ing stu­dents to pro­duce work on the cheap, this more of­ten than not can lead to headaches. A stu­dent is al­ready swamped with stress, class work­load, home­work, par­ties and a part-time job or two. Even with the best in­ten­tions, it is very easy for stu­dents to be forced to put your work sec­ond or third, thereby caus­ing de­lays, in­con­sis­tent qual­ity and un­happy clients.

Where to Find Help

In­stead, scout for team mem­bers on trade web­sites, on­line job fo­rums, from re­fer­rals or even on Craigslist. Re­mem­ber, you are not hir­ing th­ese pro­duc­tion artists full time or even of­fer­ing work at this point, but rather build­ing your tal­ent pool so that when work comes in beyond your ca­pac­ity to han­dle you have the nec­es­sary re­sources avail­able. As work comes in, sim­ply reach out to one of your subs to check their avail­abil­ity. If they are un­avail­able, move on to the next one in your list.

But why should your subs have all the fun? For those of you who still wish to get your hands dirty with an­i­ma­tion pro­duc­tion, fear not. As the found­ing mem­ber and owner of your company, you have the right to cherry pick any of the projects upon which you would like to keep your cre­ative an­i­ma­tion juices flow­ing.

Since you are lit­er­ally build­ing a brand-new business from the ground up and are re­spon­si­ble for all as­pects of this new ven­ture, you will un­doubt­edly en­gage in ac­tiv­i­ties that may not nec­es­sar­ily be your cup of tea. Rest as­sured, how­ever, that what you are ac­tu­ally do­ing is cre­at­ing re­pro­ducible sys­tems that you can ul­ti­mately del­e­gate to oth­ers so you can go on that much needed va­ca­tion. 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.

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