Tuesday, June 1, 1999

Even freebies have a value

Since Mike now had a sales partner they got a bigger volume of work and started to hire freelancers locally and my workload was finally picking up with video companies and Ad Agencies in Boston and north to NH.

As in any business you need to establish yourself. If you dont have a name from a previous job or a rich family you need to start with small jobs, spec jobs, and jobs that you beg the producer to let you do.

Back in 1996 I finally got my first gig for Discovery Channel because I had bugged the producer so much and one day he was caught in a deadline and the regular Animation Studio couldn't meet the deadline so I was in. Now the Producer (Lance W) and I had done a long project for PBS together in 1994 (Yeah I was 24 and I had a 5 person crew working under me to produce 114 shots for a series called "Presence of Place" it was a big high for me) Discovery had their approved list of vendors and I was not on it. I bid on the job at $6,ooo thinking I was going to make some real cash. But I could never crack them. I found out that the company that was getting all the work was charging closer to $20,000 for the same work and the other producers didnt think I could do the work at the quality they needed. This was amazing to me that they would rather wait another month to get a job done and pay 3 or more times what I was bidding.

So make sure you dont underbid yourself, you will have to learn the art of negotiation and reading people. Sometimes they want to know your worth it, othertimes they want o see yo usweat. And it always seems no matter what you have for credits you will have to do things for free to show you can accieve a different style, or speed or technical skill, and give it away for free a lot. There is a old term among women who work on the streets on London "Close your eyes and think of the queen". I now its an odd phrase but it has alwats stuck with me. I learned it at one of my freelance editing gigs at a company that I re-edited old documentaries and training videos to remove dated references and corporate propoganda so they could be re-sold in the educational market. Now what a video about London Prostitutes is doing being sold to schools is a whole other question.

Wednesday, May 26, 1999

Day 1

After being laid off from a job you love is a tremendously difficult thing. It took me 2 months to get back to a normal work schedule. Well I did do odd jobs for my Dad's business and my Grandfathers business, But driving a car delivering dentures and doing construction demolition are not exactly in my resume. My friend Mike A, who was a couple years older than me but started as an intern at Wreckless, and is an Amazing painter and airbrush artist, got a project freelanced to him and asked me to help him out. So was born M2-3D. The name actually came from another animator at Wreckless named Geoff who one day said to Mike and I "so what is M2-3D going to do" meaning when we all got laid off (he saw it coming i guess).
Marc and Mike 3D animation did a few jobs in the summer of 1999 but towards the end of Summer the distance of the partnership (Mike in Ct me in NH) got tough pitching projects and Mike brought on a sales person (Another former WA person). This didn't leave me in the cold but I kept the name M2-3D (saying it meant Multi Media 3D Animation) and Mike Started Xvivo, which now does AMAZING medical animation, I mean the stuff really blows me away. To this day Mike and I still get on the phone and talk about clients, employees, and fixing the Amiga (The old computer system we used before we got real jobs).

Friday, March 26, 1999

The Day Before it Started

Finding a start date to anything is very tough when you really start to think about the backstory that got you to that point. On March 26, 1999 (The day before my 29th Birthday) I recieved a call from the owner of Wreckless Abandon. Wreckless was a stop motion animation company that I freelanced for as the head of CGI for 2 years (we had 2 -6 people in the dept at any one time). WA was located in East Granby Ct (Not the mecca of stop motion animation but next to an airport with Fed Ex Drop off and the owners house). I worked 4 days a week at WA often sleeping at co-workers houses, the motel 6 or the pullout couch in the loft that was the CGI Dept. I only worked 4 days a week because East Granby was 3 hours away from my house in Newmarket, NH and my wife and I hadn't made the leap to moving our family so far from our family support system in NH. (our older 2 girls have epilepsy and required frequent hospital stays).
Back to my point. Mark B called me and said that they were laying off the 6 people that were left at the company and sticking with a 4 person crew (the 2 brothers/owners an assistant and one other if i remember correctly) The layoff was due to the effort to pull in some really big jobs and the turn around time of pulling these jobs in house is very long. As furrious as I was I understood. The 2 brothers had basically accepted me as their 3rd brother. I was able to see both sides of all the arguments (discussions) the CEO was always Black and White about his decisions and how things had to be done. The CCO was always White and Black. The 2 were almost always taking steps towards the same idea, solution, or answer but since they spoke 2 different languages they never listened to each other. I usually found myself moderating these discussions. Sometimes I was asked to refrain from commenting but sfter a while the 2 understood that I saw the world in levels of grey and I helped each of them to see what was going on and they if they took a breath and listened to each other that they were talking about the same things just from different angles.
In working at WA and being privy to some of the more complex business decisions, HR conversations, and creative meetings. I believe that these 2 years of tireless hours fo work and commuting were the foundation of what to do and what not to do if I was to ever start my own company.