First Hand — How recent grad Roxannah Linklater went from creating her final show to working for Wes Anderson
While she was in the final throes of the Media and Communications degree at Goldsmiths University of London, Roxannah Linklater was simultaneously creating her graduate show, waitressing and interning on-set for Wes Anderson’s upcoming feature film, Isle of Dogs. After an overwhelmingly busy period, the internship turned into a full-time job as a trainee puppet rigger – one that she never imagined possible, having specialised in animation. Roxannah takes us through what she’s learnt in that process, and her tips for students nearing the end of their course.
Since graduating, I have been constantly busy. I didn’t really get that daunting period of time between graduating and job hunting that I know is (and was for me) a real worry for a lot of young people.
I started an internship on Wes Anderson's next stop-motion film, Isle of Dogs, before I had even graduated, so trying to juggle a seven-day working week with organising my degree show was pretty stressful. The internship was unpaid, so to get by I had to keep my café job on the weekends; meaning I didn’t get a day off for two months straight. Despite this completely killing my social life, I was persistent, and after those two months, I was offered a job as a trainee puppet rigger on the film. It was something I never imagined myself doing, but I have really taken to and enjoy it.
Because of this, the last twelve months have completely subverted any expectations I had of my career path as well as the film industry as a whole. Specialising in animation at university and preferring digital over stop-motion, I thought I’d get an entry level-job sitting behind a computer, my eyes glued to the After Effects window. Now I’m machining precise metal parts and calculating angles. It just goes to show what can change in a year, and how much you can learn...
Use opportunities for all they’re worth
When I was interning I didn’t get a day off. I think, in a way, this gave me the drive to push through and learn as much as I could on a daily basis. I was so exhausted – I wanted something to show for it. Interning on a film set is exactly what you would expect, getting people coffee and cleaning up other people’s mess. But when you are given an opportunity like that, you have to use it. There are so many people to talk to and get to know, and so many things to see. I think if you are talkative and express your interest, most people notice. I got into the rigging department simply by asking them if they needed any help.
I think I expected to become ‘grown up’ very quickly after graduating. I now see that some people who have worked solidly for 20 or more years still don’t feel ‘grown up’. There’s no rush, and just because you’ve got a degree, it doesn’t mean you are any more mature than anyone else. I thought I would leave university knowing who I was and what I wanted, but if anything, the whole experience just raises more questions than it answers. And that’s a good thing. I think in the past year I’ve seen that people around me are constantly learning and changing. You don’t need to always know exactly ‘who you are’, the journey to finding out is the most exciting part, and graduating is just the first step of that journey.
My tutors from university have really helped me since graduating, and I’m still in touch with them now. I heard about the internship opportunity through my old tutor and she is still helping me send my own films out to short film festivals. She has given me so much support over the past year, and without her help I would have never been able to meet all the amazing people within the stop-motion industry that I have come into contact with through this job.
I know I was really lucky to find an amazing work opportunity straight out of university, not many people get that. I fell into something I love and through hard work, I managed to get a fixed position. I don’t think I would do anything differently (apart from not worrying so much). But if I were to give advice to anyone starting out, it would just be to talk. Talk to everyone, talk to anyone! You are more likely to get hired if people like you as a person, and can see that you want to learn. If you are scuttling about as quiet as a mouse, only speaking when spoken to, then you are easy to forget.
Know your worth
Also, be sure not to let anybody take advantage. My internship started out as one month, rolled into two, and before I was offered a paid position, they asked me if I would stay on for another month unpaid. After a lot of angst and sleepless nights I said no. I felt like I had no right to turn down what should be an amazing opportunity, but I simply couldn’t afford it. In the end, it was the best thing I could have done, because that’s when they offered me the job. Everyone has to put in the hours sweeping floors (that’s just how the industry works) but when you’ve added to your skill set and really have something to offer a production, then be confident in your ability and make sure you get paid!
From internships to launching startups and everything in between, we’re looking to showcase a variety of experiences across the creative industries. So whether you’re a recent graduate or creative with a lesson learned or story to share from your first 12 months, get in touch at [email protected]