In a city up north, two talented individuals named Bill Beaumont (35) and Steve Searle (24), sit in office together discussing their new projects. These two individuals are the core team behind Distant Animation Future Studio in Bradford…
“Always put your heart and soul in to whatever you do” – Bill Beaumont
You may be wondering why London didn’t seem the obvious choice for this innovative two-piece, as for many start-ups within modern creative industries it is the capital of everything, and where anything can happen. Before graduating from his first degree, co-founder Bill already had three months experience in his undergrad years sampling the life of a Londoner. He reflects on why it just wasn’t for him: “What was exciting for me when I first arrived there; riding tube trains for example, became a novelty and it really wore off after a while.”
So then, just how did Bill and Steve end up in the interesting position that they are currently? Where did inspiration and the intense drive come from to start their own business within this tough economic climate? Bill had been teaching English as a foreign language but knew that this wasn’t what he wanted to do in the long-term for a career. With a Computer Science undergraduate degree already in his pocket he began to ponder about some realistic goals. It wasn’t until he watched ‘Monsters Inc’ while abroad that he had his “lightbulb” moment.
Once back in the UK, Bill signed up for a Masters qualification within the field of Computer Animation at the University of Bradford and worked solidly to give his ideas life on-screen, advance his personal and professional profile and gain the necessary experience to give him a “leg-up” against his stiff competition. This work paid off, because he ended up with a distinction and a BBC award for his final year film. Despite having such strong qualifications and even with a CV filled with most every life experience an employer could ask for, Bill struggled to find work, or even an interview. Why? The animator points out that there are more graduates than jobs (4,000 each year, for 4,000 jobs in total) in this business. But, honestly he is not trying to scare you.
So, is the world of animation an impenetrable fortress? Bill’s top advice if you want to get into the business (or indeed, any really) is “be proactive, as it won’t fall into your lap”. This method can range from simply looking for experience to progressing once in your chosen role. Another key point is to “market yourself” appropriately. Any employer in this area will want to see a showreel of top-notch work, so send one in to them as soon as the opportunity arises and don’t wait to be asked!
Reflecting on the fact that many professionals thought that Bill’s idea to go freelance wouldn’t work at first and advised strongly against the move; he “stuck two fingers up” at his doubters and went on to do it any way, and thankfully that choice proved to be most beneficial for him and the future of his business. As expected, progress was slow initially, but with the help of Animated Yorkshire (an organisation that is solely based on supporting the region’s developing animation network) he was able to go to events, gain support and it was in doing this that he found his creative partner Steve.
Steve has always had a love for animation, and tried hard to get along with plasticine originally. Inspiration for him has come from cult work like ‘Trap Door’ and ‘Creature Comforts’. His excitement and desire to create led to an Animation degree, which in-turn opened his eyes up to CG 3D (computer generated 3D animation); a form of media that captured his heart, eyes and mind immediately. It is this passion for creativity that has positioned Distant Future at the centre of Yorkshire’s diverse creative talent.
So what does 2011 hold for this animated duo? A closer focus on websites and corporate assignments is key. however, as a truly dynamic force they are more than happy to take on any and all comers; anything from bands to banners. Steve’s hopes and goals for the future include: “becoming well-known internationally, and from that becoming recognised by other studios around the country,” and finally, “to spread the word and grow.” Bill concludes with a reminder to those who wish to follow the example of these West Yorkshire “underdogs” as they attempt to breathe life in to, and eventually lead the creative sector outside of London: “Always put your heart and soul in to whatever you do, and do it with passion.” Sound advice, and great vision from those in the know, we think.
For more information visit the official Animation Studio website.
[From left: Steve and Bill in action]