Animator Ryan Jones on Trainee Finder

Animator, designer and director Ryan Jones completed his Trainee Finder traineeship back in 2013 but it stood him in good stead as he still works freelance for the company that gave him his first, all-important break.

Ryan was 22 when he applied to the Animation Trainee Finder scheme, then run by ScreenSkills’ predecessor Creative Skillset. The successful initiative offered on-the-job training to new entrants to help them break into the industry. It is re-launching in September 2021 for a new cohort thanks to funding from industry contributions to the ScreenSkills Animation Skills Fund.

During the third year of his BA degree in animation at the University of Glamorgan he went to a Creative Skillset meeting in London and that meeting is still paying dividends today.

As he explains: “Kath Shackleton from Fettle Animation was there and was basically looking for animators for a new project and it went from there. I met her, got talking about it and then got my first job.”

That job - part-funded by Creative Skillset - was at the Yorkshire-based Fettle Animation and on the Bafta-nominated and RTS award-winning BBC show Children of the Holocaust. The series of interviews with survivors of Nazi persecution during World War II, gained acclaim at animation festivals around the world.

“It did really well and was a great project to work on,” says Ryan, who returned to his hometown of Warrington during the pandemic. “To be able to go straight into a studio and get my first credit straight out of uni was brilliant and on a professional BBC project. It was amazing and something a lot of people don’t get straight away.”

His traineeship with 2D animation specialist Fettle lasted for a year and during it he had to keep records and log his learning. Other trainees were in the studio too and “we all came together at the same time and helped each other; we were all in the same boat. It was an amazing opportunity, especially straight out of university.

“I was thrown in the deep end really [but] you learn on the job really, don’t you?”.

Since then, he has worked on animations for BBC Bitesize, CBeebies series Melody, the Open University and the Little Jokers' YouTube channel, promotional and music videos and done some art directing.

Throughout that time, he says he has been at Fettle Animation “really one way or another. I was there for about a year or so then did a few other jobs in other places then came back to Fettle for five/six years [and] I’ve been working with them in a freelance capacity from home. I’ve become part of the team really which I’m really grateful for.”

Ryan is currently working for Fettle Animation on a project about democracy and communities with “loads of other things in pipeline.”

Although his traineeship was a while ago, he thinks now is “a great time” for ScreenSkills to increase training in the animation sector and to breathe new life into its Animation Trainee Finder scheme.

“Companies are looking for any help they can get to get people on board, animators, designers etc. A scheme like this is going to be really helpful so it’s a great opportunity for them and for animators…they can get their foot in the door. Once you get your foot in that studio you get your contacts [and] your first credit and who knows what will happen from there!”