April 28 was Sheridan's annual industry day for its two animation programs. It wasn't until it was over that I realized that I took far fewer pictures this year than in years past and I don't know why that is. For photos of past industry days, click here. Each year, the student faces change, but the guests and the events stay pretty much the same.
Based on industry attendance this year, it appears that the business is recovering from The Great Recession. There were companies from outside the local area attending, including DreamWorks, Walt Disney Television Animation, Bioware, Pixar, Atomic Cartoons, JibJab and Blue Sky. Nine studios conducted job interviews on campus on April 29. Many of the local studios prefer students to come to their premises for interviews.
I didn't see any TV cameras this year, but the Toronto Star covered the event.
Above, the students set up their presentations for their post-screening meetings with industry people.
Tony Tarantini is behind the podium. He is responsible for organizing industry day and has done so successfully for the last several years. To the right of the podium are Chris Walsh and Chang Dai. Chris was in charge of the 4th year production course this year and Chang is receiving the award for best animation for her film Vigour.
While industry day is fun for professionals who meet up with friends and for returning alumni who are back to scout out talent, it can be a stressful day for the students. Everyone is hoping to attract studio interest, an interview, and best of all, a job. I try to explain to students that rather than look at industry day as the climax of their educations, they need to scale down their expectations and think of it as the first day of their job hunt. No matter how good their films are, the students can't control the state of the larger economy, the schedules of industry projects or the needs of a particular studio. While students feel judged, the quality of their work is only one variable of many.
The other stressful thing is that from kindergarten on, students have been told what to do in order to succeed. Read this chapter, answer this question, get a good grade and get promoted. School is a highly structured environment. Work is, too, but the time between school and the first job is one which has no rules. There are no guarantees for getting a job, there are only strategies and luck. Some students, due to their personalities or their histories, deal well with the uncertainties of the job hunt. Others are less likely to take initiative and can't bridge the gap. It can be one of the tougher transitions in life.
As always, I wish the class of 2011 the best of luck in their quest to find their places in the animation industry.
Update: By coincidence, Leisha-Marie Riddel, a graduate from last year, has written a blog post talking about her transition from student to professional that is definitely worth reading by anyone still in school or has just graduated.