How Animation Trainee Finder gave Jamie Chua a career-making opportunity

How Animation Trainee Finder gave Jamie Chua a career-making opportunity

“I love the fact that animation is a boundless medium with so much creative potential. When a story is animated there’s no limit to how it can be told, and animated stories never fail to transport me into fantastical and vivid worlds.” It was this endless possibility that first drew Jamie Chua to animation. Inspired by the countless and inventive ways a story could be shaped and told when animated, Jamie started to think beyond pure enjoyment of the craft and how to experience it from the other side.

“I have always loved the experience of watching a well-crafted story come together on screen, and I especially loved watching these animated stories. When I realised that I could be part of the crew behind these animations, I knew I wanted to work towards making this my career.”

It was at university where she began to marry her passion with practical production know-how. She explained: “I studied interactive media arts as a bachelor’s degree, where I discovered the animation production pipeline, and realised how many different people work together to tell a story. As someone who enjoys teamwork, I knew that working on a large group project with multiple talented artists helping to build an animated universe sounded like my cup of tea.”

The next step was to bring these elements together into a practical working environment. That’s when Jamie came across Animation Trainee Finder, ScreenSkills’ flagship new entrant programme that provides candidates with paid production placements and tailored training. For Jamie, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. She said: “I read about the animation trainee cohort when it was first launched in 2021. Having read about the first cohort’s positive experiences, I had hoped for a chance to join them one day. I was so pleased to see applications open just after I graduated!”

A successful application later and she found work in the art department at Jellyfish Pictures as a character design trainee, working on animated series Stan and Gran. So, how did she find her first taste of an animation production? “It was so much fun!” She continues: “A day on the production would generally be a mixture of working on my design tasks and attending art department meetings, both of which I really enjoyed. Our team meetings were a wonderful chance to see all the different designs from artists across the production. It felt like I could see the whole world we were creating slowly come together. I learned so much through receiving feedback from the art director, and the meetings gave me an even greater sense of my role within the animation pipeline. I am incredibly thankful for the experience I’ve had.

“I was ecstatic to be a part of an exciting show, and to be working with such a talented team at Jellyfish Pictures. I loved being in the studio as well; the welcoming and creative atmosphere was a pleasure to experience.”

It wasn’t just the placement that Jamie enjoyed either. Other elements of the Trainee Finder programme proved to be hugely beneficial and, Jamie hopes, will serve her well in the long-term. She said: “The programme has given me opportunities to grow in multiple ways. I have had the chance to attend amazing industry events like festivals and exclusive screenings, where I was able to speak to other individuals passionate about animation, and to enjoy their work on screen. I also found that the Trainee Finder cohort community itself has been incredibly supportive of each other, recommending resources to one another and celebrating each other’s achievements. Both events and the cohort network have continually inspired me and helped improve my creative work.”

For now, Jamie is looking to gain a second production placement with Jellyfish after a successful first stint, one that taught her invaluable lessons about the industry. “This experience has helped me gain a greater understanding of what it means to be an effective and efficient designer, as well as a supportive team member on a production. My directors have given me invaluable advice about design that will continue to positively impact me throughout my creative journey. I’m also able to more fully understand the pace of a production and the expectations of a production pipeline.”

It's no surprise then that she speaks so fondly of the Trainee Finder programme: “In a competitive industry like animation, it can be difficult finding a way to begin. Programmes such as Trainee Finder give participants so much invaluable support, I could not recommend it more to anyone interested in an animated career!”

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