Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Adventures of an Animation Tumbleweed

So next week I am moving to San Francisco, California!

I am sitting in a Starbucks in Vancouver right now. I think that Starbucks deliberately has a lot of hard wooden chairs to encourage patronage to tame the length of their visits. But it's more comfortable to sit on and have a table for my laptop than hunch over a cardboard box in my apartment. The shortlist of furniture that Steve and I have right now is a fold up sofa bed (purchased second hand), 2 bar stools, 2 office chairs and 3 end tables. All of the chairs are covered in various belongings and thus are un-sit-able-on, and besides, we don't have any tables. We arrived in Vancouver on October 18 and had a glorious time staying at Level Furnished Living for two weeks while living out of our suitcases. I even made raspberry pancakes on the weekend. Since moving into our teeny tiny new apartment just over 2 weeks ago, our shipment of belongings from our storage unit in Mississauga arrived and most of the space is now taken up by boxes of junk. Not having had access to the items in these boxes for over a year, it's very strange to remember all the crap that you owned that you didn't really need anyway.

Going through the items is both fun and sad. It's fun to rediscover tokens of childhood, old college projects and the boxes of cards and lovenotes I've kept. And have my collection of sparkly shoes and sweaters back that I left behind when we moved to Australia. It's sad to think about getting rid of some items and finding homes for many. I don't want to put everything in a dumpster. We're going to try to sell, donate and give away as much as we can. That in itself is a job and an exhausting one.

So if all goes according to plan next week, in just over two months I will have lived in 4 homes in 3 countries. It's kind of nuts... but I'm pretty used to moving around a lot. Steve and I tend to live with the mindset of "let's not aquire too much stuff or big items since we don't know where we'll be in a year". We destroyed that mantra while still in Toronto by buying the awesome-ist sofa, a big TV on a big glass TV stand with surround sound speakers, a massive bookshelf to store our books and DVDs, 2 bikes and way too many items for the kitchen. We have since sold the sofa, TV, speakers and stand to my parents. We are ripping all our DVD's and selling the original discs and getting digital copies of our books. We're debating what to do with the bikes. My wedding dress is in a keepsake box at my parents house, probably under a pile of cake tins or antique cameras or something. It does feel good to have very little stuff. It's also strange... getting rid of all the things you aquired almost feels like getting rid of a tiny piece of your self. Somehow.

So as for San Francisco; it's all Adriana's fault. Way back in June or July she tweeted that Atomic Cartoons was hiring. At the time I was living it up as an unpaid indie filmmaker. While in Oz I storyboarded, created a leica, drew layouts, painted backgrounds and animated about 0.001 seconds of Pickled. I haven't been able to work on it since about July but I fully intend to get back on track with it. My office was 10 feel from my bed and office attire not required by my boss. (Me!) So I saw Adri's tweet and basically thought; I worked at Atomic before and it was fun!! I could so totally get hired there again. So I applied. Then I applied to a heap of other studios, mostly in Vancouver. I applied not just for animation positions but for storyboarding positions as well. I'd love to do some storyboarding and ended up spending a big chunk of time preparing a storyboarding portfolio. I didn't get any bites. I don't get applying for jobs (at animation studios) these days. You basically send off your resume to the digital internets void and then... what? I worry that my resume will even be looked at or arrive. Not even the studio (Big Bad Boo) that hired me on the spot when I visited my old studio manager in Vancouver called me. I would have started work a week or two earlier if they had looked at my resume and demo reel.

Well I did get one bite. While still in Australia I heard back from a studio called Kabam and did an animation test for them. I've known about this company for about a year since a friend of mine has been working there about that long. At that time in Sydney I also had no furniture. Not even one chair. Steve and I had sold everything before leaving Australia and I did that animation test with my little old laptop propped on a cardboard box while sitting on the floor. Legs going numb and back murdering me and all. The test led to interviews on 2 different days with 9 people in total and covering about 2.5 hours. After a couple weeks had passed and I had yet to hear back from Kabam, I started to have sad dreams. Which is kind of crazy. I was never so excited about a job prospect before. I was very intrigued by the idea of moving to the States and being in the biggest animation hotspot in the world. The more that I had learned about the company through my contact with them the more hungry I was to be a part of it.

While I first arrived in Vancouver, I was spending my spare time tweaking my demo reel and redesigning the logo on my resume. I was prepared to launch a job applying assault on Vancouver when I went to visit Big Bad Boo Studios in Yaletown. I was hired on the spot as a Harmony animator. I used to used Harmony... three and a half years ago!!! On my first day I had to ask my director how to set a keyframe. I bet he was scared. I didn't get a heck of a lot of work done while there as I spending about half my waking hours running around dealing with moving into a new home, which included the hellish adventure of dealing with a cross-country shipping company and forgetting (our second) 7D Canon camera at the hotel and aquiring all the documentation needed to apply for a TN visa. (We got the camera back.)

So I did hear back from Kabam! I keep getting off track here. Like I said Adriana's fault. Thanks Adriana :) I had honestly not felt any urge to jobhunt while plugging away on my film. Now I have this great opportunity ahead of me. More adventures to come. And photos!