For many young people, landing that first ‘real’ job is a source of anxiety. In a tough job market, younger Canadians sometimes feel that they’re at a disadvantage but this isn’t always the case, particularly in sectors seeking tech-savvy workers.
Tara Kemes is the Vice President of Culture and Talent at Rainmaker Entertainment, a Vancouver-based entertainment company focusing on CGI animation and visual effects. During its 18 years in the business, Rainmaker has partnered with entertainment giants that include Mattel, The Weinstein Company, Lionsgate and Sony. The studio currently employs about 300 people here in Vancouver.
According to Kemes, there’s alot to be excited about in the industry, which has remained fairly solid through the economic difficulties of the part few years.
“In this city, we’re seeing such a boom right now. It’s been a fairly constant industry for us since the nineties but this is the most intense and hectic I’ve seen it.”
Kemes says the rise of Vancouver as a technology hub began with a software boom in the 1990s, which helped lay the groundwork for the digital animation sector’s current success.
“It’s true what they say – if you build it, they will come.”
Oasis of Opportunity
There are other factors weighing in Vancouver’s favour as well. “One of the key ones being that we have a hub of talent here already. There is a great network of people who can do the jobs that need to get done to make these projects come to life.” But the local talent pool is not enough and Kemes says workers from all over the world come to Vancouver to work in digital arts and to learn the tools of the trade. The plethora of educational programs that cater to digital animation and digital arts in general – schools like BCIT, Emily Carr, Capilano and the Vancouver Film School – provide opportunities for young Vancouverites as well as foreign students to learn the skills required to get a start in the industry.
“It’s a really youthful industry. It’s full of people who are kids at heart – you kind of have to be to make the projects we make.”
And it’s not just animators who are finding work at companies like Rainmaker. “All kinds of jobs exist in this industry,” says Kemes. “You have people who are more on the business side and finance.” She says Rainmaker is made up of finance, information technology and HR teams in addition to the animation unit. There are also roles for managers and co-ordinators.
“These projects don’t get made on their own – there’s a whole team of people who usher it along.”
Start Early, Keep Learning
Kemes suggests that high school students interested in getting into the industry consider taking graphic design, coding and scripting classes, if they’re available, as well as fine arts. The fast pace of the industry can give younger people, who are better versed in the digital world and able to adapt more quickly, an edge. Kemes says digital natives feel most at home in the industry.
“It changes so quickly that, I think for a lot of people working in the industry, they’re not even aware that they’re keeping up with it because it just becomes natural and innate.”
For Rainmaker, staying on the cutting edge is a top priority.
“As a studio, we too have to pick up that new technology and meld it into our pipeline.”
And that pipeline often contains exciting projects. “We’re probably most famous for a TV series that really changed the landscape of animation. It was called Reboot.” In the fall of 2013, Mainframe, thecompany’s television division, announced its plans to redevelop the iconic series. They will also be producing a series of CG-animated Bob the Builder episodes for HiT Entertainment.
Listen to the full interview here: