Interview with: André Lourenço, THU

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THU’s André Lourenço outlines 6 steps you need to take to get a job in digital entertainment

André Lourenço, founder of Trojan Horse was a Unicorn, in a recent conference he gave at LACS Anjos called “Building the ‘impossible’ career: a practical guide for the animation, gaming and visual effects area” outlined how anyone who wants to work in digital entertainment can map out a plan to be hired by the biggest names in the industry.

It takes organisation, determination and knowledge of the market, but, according to André, “it’s not difficult” as long as you follow through with your personal plan. He outlines the first steps to take towards getting a foot in the door in the animation, video games and special effects professions.

Understand the digital entertainment market

“To get a job in this industry we need to know our market, both nationally and internationally. That involves finding out what companies are out there. People know names like Disney, Netflix, Blizzard, Riot, and Apple, but the ones recruiting most are companies like Space Ape and Foxify. Nobody’s heard of them and they pay a lot more than Netflix, for example, and you are much more likely to be hired by them.”

Understand the careers and identify your passion

“It is very important to research the careers that are available within the industry and understand exactly what they are, for you to focus on what you want. The first step is to understand exactly what area you are most passionate about. If it’s 2D, or 3D, if it’s special effects or animation etc. Is working at Disney a dream or a goal? If it’s a goal you are going to put together a plan for that to happen. If it’s a dream it’ll be a dream forever.”

Identify your references in digital entertainment

“Who are your references? Who is at the top in the area you want to be in? What company do you want to work for? On that basis you will get to grips with what you need to do to be like them in the future.”

Put together a concrete plan

“Based on your research you will put together a concrete plan. Once you know where you want to work you can go to their recruitment website and look up the role you are interested in. The job description allows you to draw up a checklist of the skills you need. Then you go home and work on those skills. For example, you will need X number of projects in your portfolio with X amount of time. Six months to a year later you assess what you still need in terms of training – there’s a lot online. You might need a mentor and the THU Talent League can help with that.”

Learn about marketing and leadership

“It’s important to read books on leadership or marketing, an area that a lot of artists prefer to ignore, because this is the area that will make the big difference. With this information you can go to an interview and talk in the right way to get yourself hired.”

Look for negative feedback

“People are often very scared of showing anyone their work because they are scared of negative feedback. At THU we teach that it’s better to get negative feedback rather than a ‘pat on the back.’ The recruitment process itself is focused on understanding what we are doing wrong and that’s what’s important to improve.”

Three questions for André Lourenço:

The title of the conference is Building the ‘impossible’ career. What are these so-called impossible careers?

They are careers linked to the digital entertainment industry, which is to say, animation, video games and special effects. It’s those careers that people think don’t exist in Portugal. What most people say is there’s no work in these areas. Some examples are 2D and 3D artists, visual effects artists, generalists, riggers, environment artists… They are all names that we are not used to in Portugal.

What is changing for these careers to become possible?

The world market itself. The need for content is so huge that companies like Disney, Netflix, Apple and Amazon are recruiting from across the whole world and they need people all over the globe. Not only can you set up companies in Portugal, but you can also work as a freelancer for companies all over the world.

You have said that universities don’t teach how to get a job in digital entertainment. How can people overcome that limitation?

People need to understand how the market works. Knowing that, they can draw up a plan to respond to the needs of the market. In our career all we need is a good computer, a good WACOM (interactive pen display), good internet and time. Nowadays with these four things you can put together a portfolio to get the job you want.

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