Getting a job at Pixar is notoriously difficult. The American computer animation studio, known for its critically and commercially successful computer-animated feature films such as “Lightyear” and “Coco”, only employs the best of the best.
It is one of the most important studios in Disney’s media kingdom. Pixar has made 14.7 billion US dollars at the global box office since its first major film “Toy Story”. Their goal, as stated on the website, is to “make great films with great people”. To be one of those people, you must first understand how the company works and what kind of employees they are looking for.
If you’re about to conclude your studies or are just looking for a career switch and have set your sights on Pixar, here are some tips from Pixar veterans on how to get your foot in the door.
Dedicate yourself to your craft
According to Dan Scanlon, the director of Monsters University, people who wind up working for Pixar are usually “obsessed” with their own artwork and telling their stories. “They’re the kind of people that would still do these jobs without being paid,” he said in a YouTube video. “Even if they didn’t have this job, they would still do it, because they love it.”
People who work at Pixar have been around for a long time, which means there’s not much turnover. When the turnover rate is low, says Sets Supervisor Nathan Fariss, expect to stand out from the crowd when it comes to the application process.
Have a good portfolio
This brings us to our next point: have an outstanding portfolio.
A word of advice from Amit Baadkar, an effects technical artist at Pixar: your portfolio is what makes or breaks your entry into Pixar. The portfolio is the very first thing Pixar recruiters see before they even call you in for an interview, which is why it all comes down to perfecting it.
Obtain work experience
Eric Bravo, a production assistant, explains that having previous work experience despite being a fresh graduate was what landed him an interview with Pixar. In a YouTube video, he details how he never got called for an interview at Pixar no matter how many times he applied. That is, until he beefed up his resume with two internships at Nickelodeon and Warner Bros respectively.
It also doesn’t hurt to hone your craft through work experience — you are not your only critic. Working at other studios will give you the confidence you need to reapply for a job at Pixar.
A mistake that many jobseekers make when applying to animation studios is treating it like any other job. While the work and culture can be fun, it is vital to apply for the position in a professional manner.
Having a good portfolio means nothing if you don’t email them a cover letter detailing why you want to work there, what you would bring to the company, and how your experiences can help contribute to the team. Telling them that you have always dreamt of working there is not enough — demonstrating how your skills and experiences will be a good addition to the company is what really matters.
Are you a good fit?
It doesn’t matter whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, Scanlon shares. “We are always looking for someone we know we can communicate or collaborate with,” he says. You need to get along well with your teammates and the studio you are working for, because films and shows take an entire team of creatives and experts to make.
Bravo also states this in his YouTube video, where he went through two to three rounds of interviews that were spread out over a few days. He went for an interview with every different studio Pixar had just so they could see where he belonged.
Work your way up
Last but not least, don’t be afraid to start from the bottom. At Pixar, understanding every facet of production is important.
“A lot of our producers started as production assistants and worked their way up,” Kori Rae, producer of Monsters University comments. In essence, to get that dream job, you have to do the not-so-great jobs first.