Friday, September 22, 2006

Test Etiquette

It's now the norm in the animation biz to have prospective artists take a test to get on a production.

I hate tests.

I'm not in school because I hate tests.

If they called tests "auditions", it'd at least sound a little bit better. As it is, whenever I hear an artist talk about the test they're taking for a particular job, I feel like their talent and integrity is being challenged.


Because most of these artists are experienced. It's one thing to give someone straight out of art school a test...hell, that's how I got my first job in the biz. It's another to have someone with 10+ years experience be handed a test for whatever their forte is. That's what a portfolio and a resume are for.

For a long time I wouldn't take a test, because in my experience with these tests I felt that if I'm asked to take a test, that means I'm not getting the job. I used to do storyboard tests and never got a job out of it. So why waste my time on something where I a) wouldn't get the job, and b)wouldn't even get a callback telling me that I didn't get the job.

That's just damn insulting.

Recently I had to start taking tests again. I've managed to get myself in a situation where I had to swallow my pride and do tests again. Both recent tests were for people with whom I've worked with before. Argh. Both tests were done in the alloted time I was given and I was in contact with the "right" people so that the process should've been as painless as possible. I got a callback on the second test right away. The first test? Still no word after me calling them for a couple weeks straight.

That's crap.

If I ever find myself in a position where I'm giving others a freakin' test for a position(the thought makes me retch), the least I'd insist upon is them getting a freakin' call afterwards. Especially if I know them. Is it really that difficult to pick up a phone and make up some stupid lie as to why you didn't hire someone? Jeez, we'd appreciate the effort. Miss Manners would have something to say to you, that's for sure.

Edit: guess what? I got a call this afternoon from the folks with whom I turned in the first test. I didn't get the job.


Mike Milo said...

Yo Sandi, Yeah I totally agree with you. I've had to start taking tests as well and after having been a Producer and a Director it really pisses me off.

I've been in the biz for almost twenty years now and I find myself taking tests given by children who clearly have no talent if they can't decide from the 20+ storyboard examples I send them or the 65+ half-hours of TV I've directed, whether or not I can storyboard for their 'special' show.

It seems to me that if you are taking a test to draw a sponge then you better have some examples of sponge life drawng in your portfolio but then again if you do then they don't like THAT either.


WHY can't they see that you can do what they're asking? WHY can't they understand that if you can draw a horse then you can most likely draw a dog too.
Or a kid.
Or a clown.
Or hands wringing the no-talent people who make us take the tests.

Why? Because their show is 'special'... it's not LIKE other shows on TV. It's unique with cutting edge angles and storytelling the likes of which we have never seen before! And when we do see this amazing event on TV (even though we weren't talented enough to work on it) we will be awe-struck, instinctively dropping to our knees to thank them for the veritble plethora of eye candy they have bestowed us with on the airwaves.

That's why they make us take test. To see if we're 'that kind of animation caliber'. (something I am clearly not)

I feel enlightened having just met the brave souls who let me, no honor me with a test. That's also why they don;t call. You did not make the grade so you are beneath recognition.

Now you know. Don't you feel better?

MILLET said...

great article.

my sentiments exactly!

Stephen Greenberg said...

Those tests are exactly like work. Work you don't get paid for. As a freelancer, not only do you get paid less because the shows have a shorter turnaround time, but you have to spend time doing work that you don't get paid for, further reducing your hourly wages.

At least for the union gigs, the union should make it so you get paid for taking the test if you get the job. The fact that you have to take a test for every job now, means there are days spent working for free. That might even be illegal under California labor laws.

I think part of the idea is, that you train yourself on your own nickel to draw the characters, instead of on the employer's nickel. This is a deliberate cost reducing measure that further puts all the risk on the artist, and no risk on the company, and double penalizes the artist under the current hiring structure. It's just plain wrong.

Uccellina said...

I agree with Steph. I know of no other industry in which it is acceptable to make someone work for free for two weeks, and I am firmly of the opinion that the Union should do something about it already.

My theory is that they give tests when they already know who they want to hire, but they can't display such obvious favoritism. So they hand out tests, then hire their friends anyway. I hate watching my husband go through that crap.

Dave said...

Despise tests. Loathe them. Working for free with no guarantee of any feedback, positive or negative? Possibly the worst part of working in the animation industry...