By Tony Bancroft
Make friends not enemies.
Every “good thing” I received in my career came because of a friend or close relationship. Every job, every promotion, every new opportunity. Every single one.
When people talk about success in Hollywood as being because of “who you know” it is just as true for the animation industry. This is something that is little talked about in art school: your instructors and classmates maybe the reason you get your first job in animation. This was true for me. I had just finished my freshman year of college in 1989 and I needed a summer job to raise funds for my next semester if I was going to continue on at the very expensive and celebrated California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). But I also wanted the job to be in animation even though I was probably more qualified for Carl’s Jr. at the time. Everyday I went to the school’s job board to find, well….nothing. Then, through an upperclassman, I heard that Ralph Bakshi had hired several CalArts students to work on The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse, which he was producing at his studio in the valley. I knew that a freshman like myself didn’t have a hope of getting an artist position but I was willing to do anything to be around animation and make some money doing it. Somehow I acquired the phone number to the Bakshi studio and asked to speak to one of the CalArts upperclassmen that I knew worked there. He was surprised to get a call from a freshman but liked my tenacity. That CalArtian (yes, graduates are called that) spoke to Bakshi on my behalf, I interviewed the next day and started the following week with my first job in animation as a Production Assistant for Ralph Bakshi Productions! Without the help of the upperclassman who connected me I never would have gotten in front of Bakshi to plead my case. (I know that is true because my first job as PA for the studio was to answer the phone and turn away all of the wanna-be students looking for jobs.) Since that time, I have always tried to be good, honest and fair with others. To give more than I get and to help others like I have been helped. So, think twice before pulling a prank on that geeky kid in your animation class. He may well be the key to your future success.
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