Chasing a dream in the media industry is far from easy, as you will be thrust into a highly competitive market.
Several talented people are gunning for the same job, tons of creative ideas are churned out every day, and many ideas are lost in the horde of projects that are fighting for your audience's attention.
However, this shouldn’t discourage you from pursuing your passion. Colleen Clinkenbeard, who is producing, directing and acting in FUNimation’s adaptation of My Hero Academia, shares her thoughts about staying in the game.
Colleen is a voice actress, ADR director, and Producer for FUNimation Entertainment. She works mostly with dubs of animated series and movies. She provides and directs the voices for these multimedia products, and manages special projects for her company.
Given the rigorous nature of her job, Colleen had to learn multiple skills in order to fulfil her responsibilities. In her hearly days, she shares that her biggest challenges was balancing multiple tasks, and balancing a heavy workload in a developing company.
"When I started out there weren’t very many people in the company, so my challenge was mostly keeping up with all the work! I was working 14-hour days because it was hard for me to turn any projects down.” She explains.
Although Colleen has come a long way since then, the challenges she faced are still relevant for today’s media practitioners. In order to stay relevant in highly competitive industries, individuals must continuously develop their skills. In order to remain memorable, they must find innovative ways to network with industry professionals, and must continuously hone their existing relationships.
Colleen, who has experienced similar difficulties, has learnt several tips to overcome these challenges. She suggests the following tips, which may assist you during your creative journey:
Tip 1: Network with others in your industry
Given that the entertainment sector is a social-driven industry, freelancers and practitioners must continuously develop their network in order to remain competitive. This may involve building new contacts by networking with industry professionals, and strengthening their existing relationships.
In order to develop your network, Colleen suggests finding new ways to collaborate with individuals within your industry: “If you’re extremely diligent and hardworking, find ways to help people with their projects or create your own projects.”
However, she warns that you should not pressure potential collaborators into working with you. Instead, practitioners should build stellar reputation for themselves, as their character may be an effective calling card for opportunities
“Don’t be pushy and ask them to get you in the door. Just be that awesome-to-work-with person who everybody wants to recommend wherever they go simply because they want to be the one who “discovered” you.” Colleen explains.
Tip 2: Be Professional and Ethical
According to an article by the American Academy of Professional Coders (2020), the best way to hone your relationships is to be honest and civil. Similarly, Colleen stresses the importance of being professional.
“[Being professional] means showing up on time, leaving your personal life out of the booth, listening to and taking directions well, and generally being kind and humble as much as possible.” Colleen suggests.
Whether or not you’re working with indie developers, or established studios, Colleen stresses the importance of treating your collaborators with respect. Once word gets out that you’re great to work with, your collaborators may be encouraged to keep in touch.
“The best thing you can do to ensure a long career is to be known as an easy to work with artists. The more people you work with, the more people who have a good experience with you, the more you’ll find yourself called upon to create art with others.” Colleen explains.
Tip 3: Focus on your Strengths
Colleen also highlights the importance of recognising your strengths and weaknesses.
Although building a wide range of skills will allow you to stay relevant in the media industry, Colleen suggests that you should also select an area to specialise in. Once you develop your skills in your preferred specialisation, you’ll be able to provide your clients with quality work, which will encourage them to work with you again.
“There are hundreds of ways to start a career in the industry. The right way for you depends on your strengths and your goals.” Colleen explains.
“For example, if you are a people person, get to know people in the biz. We naturally want to help out people we like. If you’re extremely talented, just get your voice heard. Put it out there in as many ways as you can find because someone somewhere is going to want exactly what you have to offer.” She continues.
Tip 4: Move towards Potential Jobs
In our previous interview with Chuck Hüber, another ADR Director at FUNimation, Chuck suggested that “you also have to live in the cities where [audio-visual, multimedia] shows are being made”.
Similarly, Colleen agrees that being close to potential jobs increases your chances of employment. Moving to entertainment hotspots may allow you to connect with industry professionals who may eventually provide you with job opportunities, or like-minded collaborators who can support you on your creative journey.
“We pull from professionals in the industry. If you’re doing plays or film work [in the same region as our studio], you will more than likely work with someone who works for FUNimation.” Colleen explains.
Tip 5: Find a community
Chasing a creative dream may be an exhausting task if you’re doing it alone. Instead of making your career a solo mission, Colleen suggests finding a community to provide you with motivation and advice.
According to the Central Carolina Community Foundation (2012), individuals may be able to pursue their goals by joining a supportive community. Similarly, Colleen agrees about the importance of turning to your peers for support.
“Joining social media/meetup groups would help. However, you don’t have to find a large community to support you. You just need one or two friends who support you emotionally and intellectually.” Colleen explains.
“Find people who can help you grow as a person, educate you, and introduce you to opportunities. Don’t be afraid to share your knowledge with them in return.” She continues.
Tip 6: Don’t compare yourself to others
Finally, Colleen advises you to be kind to yourself, and to spare yourself the heartache of comparing your creative journey to someone else’s.
“It’s a long road towards your dream, but you should run your own race. Sure, you should look at your competition to update yourself on the techniques that they use to survive in the industry.” She advises.
“However, you should focus less on how fast your competition is moving, or your position in the industry, and more about how you can improve your product or service. Don’t be discouraged if you’re moving slower than you’d hope to – chasing a dream takes time, but you’ll get there if you’re persistent.” She concludes.