Soul Destroying Dream Jobs
Anything you love has the potential to burn you out and destroy your soul. Really uplifting way to start off this post, huh?
It's true though. If you haven't experienced hating your life choices at some point or another, then well done. Better skip reading this because this isn't for you. If you've worked hard to be in the industry you're in and it is what you wanted and you feel occasionally guilty for hating it and wondering if you should have done something else, then read on. This is me ranting about my own experiences working in animation.
I decided to pursue animation when I was 18, after exploring RMIT university on Open Day. Back then the one animation course I saw was a Post Grad and I told myself that after I finish 3 years getting a bachelors visual arts degree that I would apply. I got into the Animation of Interactive and Media course when I was 21. I always knew I wanted to have a career in visual art, I just wasn't a hundred percent sure in which field specifically until I realized that animation was a viable option.
When you get your first animation job it's exciting! Working in a team, receiving an animation TV credit, getting paid to make cartoons! It's great and then crunch time happens and deadlines. Your work life balance goes to hell. There will be finicky fixes that might drive you crazy and there are days where your self-esteem will just take a hit. You'll wonder what you're doing with your life and if you should have chosen a safer and less volatile career instead.
Whoever said "Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life" was a filthy liar and obviously didn't stay in the job long enough. Animation is hard work though and can be a real slog. The deadlines can be unreasonable at times, you might not even enjoy the project you're working on and you're doing it so you can pay the bills. Trust me, I've been there. I've been on quite a few projects where I didn't care for the style, the story or both but am working on it because sometimes there aren't any other options and I would rather earn my money animating.
Animation, it can be invigorating, especially if it's your own work and you can see your characters come to life. Creating your own world, it is rewarding having what's in your head visible for all to see....you are the creator of your own Universe. I stayed up 32 hours straight to get my final project done at Uni. I was way too ambitious, my film was 7 minutes long, it was all hand drawn, it was just way out of scope but that was my own baby so I was willing to go the whole 9 yards. I should have seen the warning signs then because animation can be very tedious especially working on somebody else's baby. It's not only students that go way out of scope.
Nothing sucks the joy, the passion and the creativity than turning that beloved hobby into a job. I used to work on my own short films and animations after work. Nowadays, the idea of animating after hours doesn't give me any joy at all. Animation, sadly, is work to me and not something I do to relax anymore. I still draw for fun but it's probably because I don't find illustrating anywhere near as time consuming as animation.
But you know what can really suck the joy though as you continue working in the industry? Working on a project that you hate! Where the animation style is crap, the designs are garbage, production doesn't know what they're doing, the schedule doesn't make any sense, you feel like a battery hen literally laying out eggs of animation, you're working overtime and I don't mean a cute overtime, I mean till like midnight after starting at 7:30 AM that day overtime and then starting at 7:30 AM again the next day and not get any thanks from the producers that created the ridiculous schedule to begin with. I have worked on productions that have burnt out and injured animators and prompting career changes. Every now and then, when I find myself in a horrid position, I wonder...should I have changed careers as well? Get into marketing or business, maybe even debt collecting. I would make a good debt collector. Which brings me to another point, it is very irritating having to chase after clients for payment. I am lucky so far to not have found myself out of pocket but a lot of other freelancers have not been lucky. It is such a downer though to be underappreciated for your work.
I love the animation industry here in Melbourne. I do. The community is fantastic and I have plenty of good memories and friends in the industry and have met through the industry. I am very fortunate to have been able to make a living animating but it doesn't mean I don't feel frustrated with some aspects of it from time to time. This would apply to most industries, am sure. Anyhow check out this article by Mark Manson . I think his post worded my thoughts out more eloquently.