Monday, June 1, 2009

Yes We Have No Bananas

Forgive me another student themed post. Each and every year I teach a 15 week class called Animation Promotion PR. It's the class that led to my book Your Career in Animation: How to Survive and Thrive. In fact, this is my favorite subject to teach and I've been doing so since 2003. And, each year there are students that read my book, listen to my lectures, and meet a who's who of animation talent in my class, all of which reinforces the basic premise of how to find a job, how to keep a job, and how to build up a career over time.

If we took the word "animation" out of the equation, we could be talking about buying bananas. Over the coarse of 15 weeks of my class, students learn how to find a store that sells bananas, how much they cost per banana and, finally how to eat the banana.

Carrying this banana analogy forward, imagine my surprise to get emails from former students up to a year later saying, "Hi Mr. Levy. I'm still thinking of buying a banana at some point. How do I do that again? Do I need a credit card? Exact change? What color should the banana be again when its ripe? Should I join the banana group (ASIFA-East)? How do I do that again? Would it be worth it? I still daydream about bananas from time to time and I'm trying to get myself organized to get my banana website up. Do you know anyplace I can get a banana? I've been meaning to look into that, but time has gotten away from me."

Don't get me wrong, I know this industry can be rough. Two posts ago, I shared some stories in which I encountered some rude or unwelcoming people at the start of my career. But those were never going to stand in the way of what I wanted to accomplish.

If the process of walking to the store, buying, and eating a banana is a mystery to you, than its because you are choosing to live in mystery. That's nothing more than a clever way to keep yourself away from your goal. Or maybe its because after 4 years of expensive art school you learned that don't like bananas. While that can't be an ideal financial situation to be in, its far from the worst position to be in on this green Earth. Just be honest with yourself. You have your whole life ahead of you and its yours to do something with (and that's with or without bananas).


Elliot Cowan said...

I get a LOT of people asking me "What festivals should I enter?" or "Where should I look for festivals to enter"...

David B. Levy said...

Lazy questions like that drive me crazy. In today's day and age all the answers are a mouse click away. I won't answer any of those kind of questions any more unless the student can first show me that they already did the research.

George said...

I'm glad that you wrote, "If we took the word 'animation' out of the equation..." I remember that when I read your book a couple years ago, I thought that there was only a little bit that was specifically geared towards animation. Rather, the book gave important tips about how to succeed in ANY field: connections, hard work, being respectful, etc.

David B. Levy said...

George, you nailed it. And, you totally got the point of the book just right.

Mike Rauch said...

I'm not sure I would call the questions Elliot mentions lazy. Actually, restricting your research to the internet and other routes that don't require human contact seems more lazy and inadvisable. There's definitely lots of information to be found if you research online, etc. But to me, research includes asking for recommendations from your peers. I would happily answer either of the questions Elliot mentions here if anyone asked me. The knowledge I have on the subject comes from a combination of online research and the like, as well as from festival veterans who have been generous enough to share their years of wisdom. On the other hand, I agree that it would be lazy if someone's "research" on a subject started and stopped with asking the advice of one person.

But Dave, your post seemed to be more a comment about the lack of sympathy you have for the person who you take time to share your knowledge with yet who never takes any action of their own to use what you've shared and build on it. That to me is a very different thing.

Elliot Cowan said...

I think they are INCREDIBLY lazy, which is why I mentioned them.

All the resources you could possibly want are online, regardless of peers to ask.

I had no peers to ask when I started entering festivals and seemed to manage without too much drama.

David B. Levy said...

Hi Mike,

You did get the meaning of this post just right... and on the lazy factor issue, for me it is lazy to not investigate as much as you could before you ask a question. Of course, there will always be questions we'll want to ask somebody who has more information than we do. On the example Elliot posed, the person should be typing in "the top 10 animation festivals" into google and get the results.. then, they can ask a pro what they think of those festivals, etc...

I just like to see some degree of effort. Otherwise questions can demonstrate more laziness than actual curiosity.

jim said...

Yeah, there's a big difference between asking, "Hey, what festivals should I enter?" and "Hey, I've narrowed my list down to these 10-15 festivals and I was wondering if there were any you particularly liked or disliked... or if I missed any great ones."

David B. Levy said...

That's exactly it, Jim!

Uncle Phil said...

Hey Dave.

Is your class in the spring or fall? I really can't recall.

I'll be in NY for a week in September.
I'd love to come to your class if I can remember.

I'll talk Bananas and other fruit.
Drop me an email, it'll be a hoot.

(as I dodge a tomato)

roconnor said...

I can't find a single thing to disagree with in this post.

David B. Levy said...

Richard, I knew we could do it! This is like a hug across the great divide. : )

Chris said...

The advanced levels of the art of banana buying get really weird.
You may be starving, but you have to act cool in front of the banana.
You've bought plenty of bananas, and while this one look delicious,
if it doesn't want to play ball, there are plenty of other bananas out there.

...But does the banana know it IS the only banana in town right now?
Will my family have enough bananas to eat to make it though the winter?
Will I need to move to move across the country to an area
that is naturally more rich in bananas?

Why bananas anyway, Dave?

David B. Levy said...

Hey Chris,

The bananas just represent how silly it is to inject permanent mystery into something where there is none. You can use tomatoes instead. It's all good.