Thursday, 16 November 2017
Archie Dennis at Double Negative
After polishing his demo reel and applying for various jobs, Archie secured a position as a runner at London based VFX giant Double Negative. DNeg are the largest vendors of visual effects in Europe and their London studio can house over 1000 artists. We asked Archie to talk a little about his new job and how it came about.
I'm really excited to work at DNeg - they have studios all over the world such as; LA, Vancouver and Montreal in Canada as well as Chennai and Mumbia in India. They’ve received many Academy Awards, most notably three VFX Oscars for Ex-Machina, Interstellar and Inception. In 2014 the CG feature animation studio Locksmith Animation was launched with backing from Double Negative
Being a runner is essentially at the bottom of the food chain; you have to work up into a more senior role form there. If you’ve just left University as I had, unless you start in a small studio the chances are you’re going to have to do a bit of running first of all, to prove yourself. But don’t worry, it’s not nearly as bad as some will make you believe. Runners basically ensure the studio runs smoothly at all times. This could mean making sure facilities are kept in good condition, organising meetings, delivering post, looking after the seven kitchens in the building, and much more. There’s a head runner who organises everyone into shifts and each shift has specific roles.
At DNeg there are three types of runners: 2D, 3D and production. I’m a 2D runner as I’d like to get into compositing. The way it works is you’ll be given a 6 month contract to be a runner, which involves doing all the jobs mentioned above, but during that time you’ll be trained in your chosen field by industry experts, for free - which is great! Hopefully when your 6 months is up (or before), providing there’s a job in the company available and your instructor feels you have good enough skills, you’ll be moved up to a junior artist position. This gives you a great advantage over people with similar experience who haven’t worked at a big studio before, because not only do you now understand the companies workflow, you know the staff and how everything works in the building
I applied to a lot of studios when leaving Univeristy. As many people will tell you, practically nobody will even respond to you, which is annoying. But DNeg did reply to me after I applied for the runner position, once one a post became available. They were great, very responsive, and within a few days I had a phone call with a lady from recruitment and then was invited to an interview. The HR and recruitment department is extremely good.
Tips for success
I wuld advise students not to send in a conventional CV. Make it look nice, remember you’re an artist and you are meant to be a creative person. Sending in a back and white conventional CV doesn’t show your creative instinct. I’d also recommend that you tailor make each CV to the job you’re applying to. For example, look at what the studio is asking for, and modify your CV to suit the role.
Showreel The same is true for your showreel; make it interesting and show your creativity. Remember recruiters see a ton of reels and CV’s each day, and these big studios like DNeg, Framestore and ILM have lots of applicants for each role. A lot of them have just plain old demo reels and ordinary cvs - so make yourself stand out! If you’d like inspiration - Google Image search for “CV designs".
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