Recruitment challenges in the animation industry
Today, François Perreau, Head of Studio and Animation at Superprod Studio is telling us more about recruitment challenges in this period of full employment in the industry of animation.
François, can you tell us about Superprod Studio?
SUPERPROD STUDIO is a subsidiary of Paris-based production company SUPERPROD, and we produce CG-animated series and feature films. Located in Paris, Angoulême, and Los Angeles, we work with platforms, production companies and broadcasters such as Studiocanal, Nickelodeon, Netflix, Disney Channel, France Télévisions, M6, Kuku Studios, etc. We handle all parts of a CGI animation production – from the look development to animation, rendering and compositing.
Can you tell us more about the current recruitment situation in the animation industry?
Hiring is a major strategic challenge for every animation studio, especially in this period of booming animation industry. We are always looking for new talents: juniors, mids, and seniors… and we are not the only ones!
Superprod as well as the other French studios work side by side with the animation schools and we have luckily anticipated the growth of the sector and increased the number of the students arriving on the market. Yet, despite the highly technical and artistic level taught in these schools which rank among the best in the world, the junior profiles need at least 3 or 6 months to work efficiently within the production pipeline. This is rather challenging as a recruiter! At Superprod Studio we have made it part of some internal process and we consider it is our role to help them along with an “on-the-job training”.
This means though that we need to reinforce our teams with more senior staff. But according to the positions, they can be difficult to hire as they are very attractive to others too! A few years back, there were less students coming out of animation schools. On top of that, many seniors have evolved to other positions in production or also left France to work on some ambitious feature films in the US or in Canada.
So how did you succee to hire?
We were only four in Angoulême when I joined Superprod four years ago to launch the studio, and we are now 100 in Angoulême, and about the same in Paris!
How did we proceed? First, we started with our networks. We all came from the industry, so we contacted colleagues from past experiences. We also inked partnerships with schools, such as EMCA in Angoulême. We collaborate also with animation colleges such as ESMA or Les Gobelins. We give there some masterclasses and we also organize job-dating sessions for new applicants at MIFA in Annecy.
We also work closely with Magelis, Angoulême’s economic pole of development of the image and digital broadcasting, as the city is the European second hub for animation after Paris. And it is very attractive for some very different reasons than Paris! Angoulême has become over the years a real advantage to recruit some specific profiles : it is a charming city with 140,000 inhabitants, in the Cognac valley, nearby the Périgord and the sea, surrounded by nature, and yet, 2 hours from Paris and 35 minutes from Bordeaux with the high-speed train line. The housing market is also much more affordable with a per-square-footage cost 10 times lower than in Paris. That’s a huge plus for juniors who start their working life as well as seniors who want a new life project. And applicants who consider moving to Angoulême feel reassured that so many French studios are settled in Angoulême (Studio Hari, Prima Linea Productions, Normaal, Blue Spirit, Xilam, etc.) as well as other cultural industries (comics, video game, etc.).
Guided tour in Angoulême
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Are you open to international candidates?
Of course, we are! Our teams are already multicultural with a great mix of international profiles: French, Spanish, Italians, Croatians, Brazilians, Argentinians, etc. The two conditions are to be fluent in French or English and to hold a Schengen visa… The latter can be challenging for candidates from outside the EU! But we may get some waivers for some very specific senior profiles, so we are always open to consider all profiles.
What are your upcoming needs?
We have around four productions per year, so we are always looking for new talents: mainly in animation and VFX.
We have just recruited some animators for That’s Joey and Pat the Dog 2 in Angoulême, and senior animators for Paddington. The next hiring session of animators should begin next March for Go! Go! Cory Carson season 2, that we are making for Kuku Studios, a very talented San Francisco based production house founded by ex-Pixar top talents, and for V-Tech and Netflix. For those interested, season 1 will launch on Netflix worldwide on January 4th.
What’s the process to apply at Superprod ?
First step : each applicant should fill in the dedicated form on our website, it is crucial as it feeds our recruitment database. Then we visit the LinkedIn profile to see what productions the applicant previously worked on. Then, we screen his/her demo-trailer to consider the understanding of weight, space, compositing and timing. If we feel that this is satisfying, then we contact the candidate. He/She takes an animation test, that will vary according to the production on which we’re hiring. He/she will have 24 hours to deliver a four-second animated sequence (on Maya). This can be done remotely, and we provide the software access when needed. If the test is at the expected level, then the production supervisor contacts the applicant.
What advice would you give to early-career applicants?
To continually learn, upgrade skills and use their professionalism to serve the content. We sometimes see juniors who excel in the technique but get stuck in it. So beware of not delivering “technical” animation and stay open: think about storytelling, image layout, what should be most important in a frame, etc. Technique should always serve the narration and the project, not the other way round!
Strengthen your knowledge and skills by learning every day! By the way, at Superprod we give access to all employees to a dedicated file with a wide range of tutorials (references such as Drawing & Composition for Visual Storytelling and The Animator’s Survival Kit ) ! And we are launching our own masterclasses in order to improve our skills collectively thanks to the variety of experiences among us. For instance in November we organized a masterclass on Storyboarding and Storytelling at Pixar, with tips and tricks about animation (analysis of acting, posing, staging, and model sheets), which was given by one of our Animation Supervisor who spent 7 years animating at Pixar!
Why choose to apply at Superprod?
First, for the quality of the projects ?. Right now, we have Pat the Dog 2, That’s Joey, Paddington, and Go go Cory Carson 2… and we have two ambitious and very exciting animated feature movies that we’ll announce soon!
Secondly, as I was saying earlier, our policy of providing quality in-house training. We also have the reputation of being fair and respectful of work and human values (legal frame, no delay with salary payment, parity, salary upgrades). Finally, the strong dynamism at Superprod: the studio keeps growing, and it’s so exciting to take part in the adventure !
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Thanks so much for taking the time to read till the end ? and stay tuned!
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If you would like to apply now : www.superprodstudio.net/jobs