I get a lot of emails. Sometimes they are not all quick-times of animation, but honest questions. And they are not rare questions and a lot of professionals will answer them, but in like one paragraph. I know if I was to describe what I had to learn to get to where I am it would take longer than a paragraph. We all want to be big Redwood Trees but we all have to start of small like a seedlings. I know I did. So here is the email I wrote back. Hope it helps and gives insight to those who seek it.
There's only two things you got to think when thinking about getting into Pixar or any other place you might want to.
First, you have to make your work KICK ASS.. sorry for the lack of a better term, but you have to know animation inside out AND be able to perform and deliver. Even if it's not animation you must know your CRAFT and skill inside out and be able to do ANYTHING asked from you, or at least know what you would need to do to complete a difficult art piece. Some people stop there (Learning their talent inside out) but you also have to be creative, you have to be an artist with your animation/craft.That will hopefully come naturally but the hard part is getting good and honing your skills. That just takes time and dedication. Then all you have to do is combine your skills with your creativity and you're on your way to becoming a great artist.
Second: You have to be or at least try to be a people person. I'm not saying you have to learn how to brown nose and such, but you must know how to just be a genuinely pleasant person to work with. Never burn any bridges, you never know who's help you might need in 3 years. YOU NEVER KNOW! So even if you don't like a peer or a teacher, never burn that bridge, just stay as an acquaintance or something where if you ever need to ask for a favor they do not have a reason to say no. That being said, do beware of fake people who are only nice to get themselves ahead. For example if they treat you like shit at first glance, but then they find out you are a very good animator or work someplace nice, all of a sudden they are your best friend and want to work with you. Pay those people no mind and try not to blend in with them, bc the actions of the people around you reflect on you. AND just watch out for people who are just nice because they KNOW they HAVE to be nice (like as if a douche bag read this post and says, 'Shit i gotta start being nice now')
And that's all you need to know. Everything else falls into place if you can nail these two pieces of advice. Opportunities will find YOU and you won't have to search around. With me, I learned fast, but I learned and pushed my self to get my skills to become second nature so I can animate and focus on my ideas and creativity. You need to focus on your weaknesses and make them stronger from someone who knows what they are doing, ASK FOR HELP when you need it. bc all that time spent trying to figure it out on your own could of been put to better use. Find out what you want to do or get better at and learn to do it.
You are 17, i do not know your skill level and how much back ground you have on animation. hell im only 22 and I'm here. SO IT IS POSSIBLE. Here is one piece of advice that I wished a lot of people would of gotten when they first started...
Do not through all your marbles one ONE PIECE OF WORK. Do not think that a whole semester on 46 seconds of animation will guarantee you a spot or a job if you bust your ass on it. Do not put your faith on one film for two years. Sure quality is what matters, but you ARE assuming you are a genius and you will get it right the first time... you need to produce a lot of work so that you can fail on 2 pieces and LEARN from them. There are things you can only get through experience and that is perspective and how to plan and see time and gauge your limits and skills. And knowing those things will help you make your third, fourth eighth film the best. You need to complete more than one film so that after it's all said and done, you have a group of work to choose from and see your progression. Quality is good obviously, and quantity is just as valuable, especially in a very time consuming medium that animation is.
So listen and learn, then get good, then get fast, so that all you have left is to further develop your mind as an artist
Your life long dream should not be to WORK at your dream job, it should be to do what you love WELL. So start doing the steps you need to get that ball rolling.
-Regarding the question how is it to work at pixar?
Working at pixar is like going to school, but they are paying you to go. You are free to create and develop yourself as an artist. You work with great people and you are always learning and motivated to push your work and make it better.
In a nut shell thats all it is. There is no magic, these people are human like you and me. Art doesn't magically happen. Just like you working on an assignment and that takes time and thought.. Thats the same as me working at pixar on my assignment. Except at pixar you better be able to knock it outa the park eventually once your start on it, not necessarily on the first try but eventually.
So start collecting all your dedication, and get ready mentally to make hard decisions. Sometimes you will have to sacrifice a social life when something is due in 2 weeks and YOU KNOW that it's gnna take you 3 weeks wort of work to finish. Be prepared to not have all the answers and YOU WILL discouraged. Best of luck to you, and if you ever find your self stuck send me an email and I am always here to help you out. Send me your work or shoot me a question. Anytime. Learn form people and teach people what you learn. Matter of fact, if you see some one who is in your spot too, let them read this email. bc it might help them out if it helped you out. You learn more from helping other people learn than trying to learn by yourself. I guarantee it'll be worth your wild.