We heard on the Soho grapevine that escapee Greg Malkin, had been working at Cinesite on John Carter of Mars. So we sent Training Manager Miles Petit rocketing off to catch up with him, to discover how after leaving Escape Studios, he got to Mars.
This is Greg’s story…
“After finishing at Escape, I contacted Garreth (Escape’s Recruitment Manager) and Miles to arrange an appointment to come in, and have them take a look through my showreel. They were able, along with my tutor Dan Shutt, to critique my reel, and give me advice on areas that needed further work.
This help is invaluable because they have seen a lot of showreels before, they know what to look for, and understand what the industry is expecting. I took their advice and made the suggested changes. When I had done so, they did the showreel critique again, and finally gave me the go ahead to send it out to industry.
Amazingly, Garreth was able to secure me an interview at Crystal CG, while Miles and Dan were still looking through my work, so I went directly from Escape across London to Stratford, for the interview!
Although I was unsuccessful at Crystal CG, I got an interview soon after at The Mill, and this time I had better luck. For I started work in commercials the very next day, where I jumped straight into Object and Camera Tracking on the wonderful Magners ‘Bees’ ad.
I spent two and half months in commercials, during which time I worked on 8 projects including Vimto ‘Lowrider’ and commercials for Budweiser and Heineken - big names for my showreel. I then moved across to the Film & TV department where I was lucky enough to work on Dr Who, Merlin and a Hollywood Studio feature film, which were all great experience.
Unfortunately, as is sometimes the nature of the business, after a month, there was no longer enough work around to continue, and I was told my contract would not be renewed. When my first day of unemployment came around I was a little worried, but I needn’t have been, because later that day I was walking into Cinesite for an interview. The next day I started work as a Matchmove Artist on Disney’s John Carter of Mars!
Although this was only a short contract, I was kept on at Cinesite and moved into the newly formed Stereo Prep and QC Team, where I was able to gain great experience of the stereo conversion pipeline. John Carter has now wrapped, but I’m now working as a Matchmove Artist, on World War Z.
I would recommend that everyone make the most of your time at Escape, and put all your focus and energy into getting to grips with the skills taught in class, then practice those skills, and put together the very best showreel you can.
My classmates and I would often stay late working in the studio, until they were closed up for the night. The facilities on offer at Escape are first-class, and the ability to stay until 10pm every day is fantastic. Your time at Escape is only a short one, and afterwards you’ll regret it if you haven’t given your all!
I think finding a job has a lot to do with timing. The VFX industry is project-based, and artists are hired to work on those projects. With this being the case, there will be times when there are lots of job opportunities, and other times when there aren’t as many.
The key to success is to be persistent. It can be disheartening when you send out lots of applications, only to be told that there aren’t any openings, but this doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. Because things change so quickly, you need to follow up your applications by phone, keep checking the jobs boards, and watching Twitter accounts and Facebook pages, because a new project may suddenly appear where your skills may be required.
Also, don’t be afraid. I was nervous on my first day in the industry, and a little bit unsure of myself. But I found everyone I met was incredibly friendly, helpful and reassuring. If I needed a bit of help with something, there was always someone who was more than willing to give up their time, and help me.
The industry in Soho is a small one, so you will cross paths with people you meet again and again. There is great work being made here and the many talented and friendly people making it, means it’s a highly enjoyable place to be.”
Thanks for sharing your story to date Greg; it’s always great to hear how the skills taught here at Escape, help to forge new careers.
If you would like to be the next astronaut launched into the VFX stratosphere by Miles’s, why not drop him a line and see how he could fire you up!