Interview Advice From Netflix Animation Recruiters
Looking for a new job opportunity within Animation or even just getting your foot in the door can be overwhelming at times. To help with this, we interviewed five recruiters who support Netflix Animation and asked them what advice they would give to someone looking to join the team.
These are their answers.
Featured in this article: Amelia Leddie, Erica Sewell, Jake Hetzer, Courtney Currin, and Sneha Shukla
Amelia Leddie - Original Animation Series, Art
When recruiting for art/design/paint animation, we prioritize looking at people's portfolios and their art. What I really want to see is someone's personality and individualism come through in their art. When I look at portfolios, I love to see a person's style and what they're interested in. I'd rather see something totally different or something I've never seen before, than look at what you think I want to see. The portfolios that show a person's unique view of the world are the portfolios that always stand out. It makes it easier to pair your style to a particular show's look if you're putting forward work that is something you're interested in (because we can see the passion and excitement come through in your art). I also look to see some range and versatility in pieces to show what different styles or genres you could work with.
While this isn't a necessity, it definitely helps to keep your portfolio organized (e.g. tabs for character designs, background designs, prop designs, etc. or broken down by projects). Portfolios are easier to navigate through when there's some sort of organization versus all your work on one page. I would also suggest putting only your best work in your portfolio and not everything (quality vs. quantity) because you'll always be judged on your weakest piece. And finally, while we love seeing finished pieces, productions also want to see the technical side, so include things like turnaround sheets, expression sheets, color scripts, lighting a background to show different moods, what you used for inspiration, and different iterations of a character/prop/etc.
Erica Sewell - Outreach and Engagement
Immerse yourself in your craft, whether you choose to focus on art, story, or writing. Study TV shows...don't just watch them! How long is the teaser? How many acts? Is the protagonist always driving the A-story? This is a fun way to learn structure and format. Do it every single day and make it a habit. Having strong ideas, knowing who your audience is for the types of stories you want to tell, and connecting with them is key. Understand the filmmaking process. Making animated content is similar to live-action, the tools are just different. Watch films and series content - action, comedy, drama, adult, kids & family pre-school, anime. Analyze the story structure as well as the filmmaking aspects, i.e. camera, staging, layout, acting, composition, timing, and look to apply those approaches.
The animation industry is highly collaborative and in many ways small. It's important to start building relationships as early as possible. This could be with your peers pursuing the same interests, seasoned artists, or recruiters that you connect with on social media, at conferences, or virtually. Wherever or however you connect, build your community to help you get to your goals and be intentional about the jobs that you apply for.
Jake Hetzer - Original Animation Series, Production and CG
We don’t have a particular house style at Netflix, so we’re constantly looking for a wide variety of skill sets and experiences depending on that specific project we’re working on.
For me, it’s really about finding folks who are passionate about animation as a medium for unique storytelling and eager to help us shape the new wave of it. We have a number of diverse and exciting projects we’re working on, so it’s especially fun whenever we’re able to learn about a candidate’s passion for a particular genre, story or art form so then we can work to align them with an opportunity they’re hopefully going to really connect with. I think it goes without saying, but I’ve always found it to be so much easier to invest yourself and find opportunities of growth whenever you’re really passionate about whatever it is you’re working on.
Immerse yourself in whatever it is you want to do and don’t be afraid to attend events or reach out to recruiters or peers in your particular field to ask questions and learn from their experiences - it’s an incredible way to gain knowledge and build your network!
Courtney Currin - Original Animation Features
Tell the stories you’re passionate about - whether that’s in storyboards or visually through the worlds and characters you’re designing. We’re in a new renaissance period in animation where so many unique stories are being developed and we’re looking for people who can bring their own voice into our productions. Your passion and unique style will show in your portfolio. In order to know if your portfolio is production ready, look at the credits of some of the films/shows you would love to work and find the online portfolios of the artists that worked on those productions. In order to be production ready for those projects, that’s the level of work you’ll need to hit in your portfolio.
Genuine love for animation and the work is important. It’s so clear how passionate certain artists are about their craft when you look at their personal artwork or comics that they’re working on outside of their day job or school. Those are people who I know will be exceptional on productions because it’s more than just a job for them - it’s something they enjoy doing even in their free time.
So much of hiring in animation has to do with timing. If you feel like your portfolio is production ready and you still haven’t found a job, don’t get discouraged! It’s only a matter of time before the right production and role find you.
Sneha Shukla - Netflix Animation Researcher
Keep in touch with recruiters, but don't go overboard! The keyword is being consistent, about once every four weeks. Making your name known is important, but also taking the time out to ask how the recruiter or researcher is doing goes a long way. When the pandemic wasn't all encompassing and studio lunches were still the norm, I remember letting recruiters know ahead of time that I would be visiting and would love to say hello. This went a long way for me, as it shows that not only are you interested in a company for the work they have to offer, but you're also interested in being personable. I know interviews are scary and you want to prove your worth. Just be confident in what you're able to accomplish!
Having a strong portfolio that matches a project's style is what cuts through the clutter. When I look at a portfolio, I love seeing personal projects or work that really interests the artists. This helps me understand what types of projects they would love to work on/where I can best present them moving forward.