James Baker

The fifth guest speaker of this semester was James Baker, a freelance visual development and storyboard artist with many films under his belt some examples include- Toy Story, The Boxtrolls, Cars and Finding Nemo.


Having the opportunity to speak with him felt surreal! He broke into the industry straight after school in 1981 and found his first job in Sydney.  He spoke about his journey through the industry and how he ended up where he is today, he shared some great inside stories you wouldn’t ever hear about too.

He offered loads of advice for us;

  • He explained how smaller studios give you more opportunity to grow and develop than bigger studios would. He thinks bigger studios are better for when you already have the experience and are somewhat settled, also with bigger studios you do get the chance to be creative like smaller ones but your perimeters are smaller. The only downer with smaller studios is that you have to be prepared for great projects to fall through, it’s just how things happen!
  • Think of the animation industry as a whole, don’t think that the studio your working at is the best because everything and anything can take a turn for the worse.
  • “Just keep doing what you’re doing, if you’re doing something well you’ll be recognised for it”
  • Keeping a good balance between personal work and industry work is key! In your portfolio the professional work shows what you have done, but your personal work shows what you could do.
  • “Movies are like essays, you can create a movie around the same structure that you would your essay. Intro/question/counter point/conclusion.”

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