You may have noticed that I've been presenting ground-floor opportunities lately. They all have certain risks, but the rewards of getting in early can be substantial. My latest discovery is Zerply. It's a unique employment agency focused on the VFX and animation worlds. Called “a network for the world's top creative talent in TV, film and games,” it just might be your new gateway to opportunity. Word is spreading quickly. About half their new recruits work in the game industry and the other half in film and TV.
From my observation (I signed up), Zerply is a way to present yourself to a refined population of interested parties. It is also a way to get yourself vetted through a standard process that potential employers can trust and access quickly. Better yet, you don't have to be hassled with preparing CVs and demos and sending them out willy-nilly. It's all very organized and convenient for both the artist and the potential employers. I see it as a place to show off my work. I'm not really looking for a job, but I felt the need to try it out.
I get very excited about some of these new ventures, and sometimes they don't pan out. I believe this one is already showing some keen promise. The people developing and running it are young, enthusiastic, clever and smart. Those last two are definitely different. It's possible to be smart without being the least bit clever and you need both, IMHO, to make something like this work. I asked CEO Christopher Karltorp (left) where all the passion comes from and he said, “I hope we can be a force for good in this industry. We can help people have a more secure way of life, and perhaps change how things are done. I really believe this is the future of how artists and opportunity will get connected from now on.” I take him seriously.
How does it work?
Well you apply to be represented. You can't just join. You petition. That's a good thing. They are working on creating an entry process for students and other up-and-comers, but until then you have to be allowed in by an existing member or be personally vetted and invited by the extended Zerply team. You have to be qualified. That way the studios get quality referrals. Credibility is essential.
They're working on their vetting process. Right now you get rated either by colleagues or by the extended Zerply team of working pros. Don't let that daunt you. Go for it. Go to their website and give it a try. I didn't get charged anything. They charge the people who hire you.
I've heard Zerply compared to LinkedIn several times, and they don't like that. I don't either. They are very very different. Zerply is more dynamic and active. I get emails from them every week to help me present myself in better ways, and I can show my demo reel. But, more than that, Zerply is active with potential employers. They know the houses. Karltorp goes out to the studios and VFX houses himself to make connections. He is also very active in the design of Zerply's systems.
Once you've signed up you fill out some forms that Identify who you are and what your strengths are, and what kinds of experience you have. If you are pretty new, your academic and internship background will be important.
Zerply represents people at all levels, which is rare. Most of their people at present are experienced, but If you're new and can get yourself recommended by a member or impress their review committee, you still have a shot. Most other online opportunities are only for well established artists with a reputation for excellence.
Okay, you get to tag your skills and then get other credible people to endorse these particular skills. It's not like the LinkedIn endorsement program. It's more contained. You have to be endorsed by vetted people. This is better than an open system. For example, I once saw a very bad book sold on Amazon (an open system) getting all five-star reviews…but they were all from the author's friends. I know the author, so I know.
The cool thing is that Zerply maintains all your job application information online so potential employers have instant access, reducing the level of effort on your part substantially. Better yet, it makes it a very simple process for a studio or house to go online, fill out what they are looking for in terms of skills and experience and then get a menu of people to check out.
They are building a major online employment database that just may become the go-to place for both the studios and the VFX and animation houses. Again, it's early in the process. Make up your own mind about their chances for growth.
The nomad life
The Zerply system is particularly well suited to project work. Things have changed in the industry. People get hired for a project and then have to relocate or find a new project. It's a pain in the ass and not conducive to family life. Perhaps this nomadic life is the price you pay to gain the reputation for excellence that will land you a more permanent job. But the Zerply system is a great way to keep things moving. Imagine having your next job lined up before you finish your current one. With Zerply, that is possible.
I like the fact that Zerply is centered on VFX and animation people. The recent shuttering of CGHub leaves a black hole where professionals used to gather online to share their work and find opportunities. Zerply is very different from CG Hub—more intensely focused on connecting people and opportunities. IMHO it's a good time to connect with Zerply as they grow in credibility.
Getting in early will help you stand out from the crowd of VFX people looking for work right now. Just go to Zerply.com and apply. I don't see a down side to this. Oh, and I checked with my friend, industry legend Don Levy, who first brought Zerply to my attention. He endorses them. That's a damn good endorsement.
Upcoming…in spite of my massive fail with Space Command as a crowd-funded project, I don't want to give up on the idea. I've found an animation project that is worthy of at least checking out and I'll talk about it next time around. This is one that has been underway for several years, has a feature-length previs completed and could be a winner. I'm not encouraging you to invest in it, but see it as a way to go for your own projects.
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