It’s hard to openly talk about the topic of dating, but as the guy that developed his short film around the topic, ‘Devils, Angels and Dating‘, I felt it was my duty to expand on it for all the past, present and future lovelorn creatives it was aimed at.
The Animation and Visual Effects Industry has been plagued with issues for some time, and many of those issues are only now being exposed and discussed. There are a lot of problems that have compounded over time and there are no solutions that address them all quickly. There are plenty of other better writers out there that you can read up on to find out more on the industry. But I wanted to talk about something that makes a huge difference to an individuals life, that we all can do something about.
When I started my first job as an animator I had a 9 to 5 job. To many that sounds wrong. That’s because most jobs I’ve worked in recent years the core hours are either 9 to 6, 10 to 7 or even 10 to 8. This may be a big city thing, a US thing or I suspect… a recent thing. More and more companies expect you to work longer days by default. Note that I’m not talking about the overtime you put in over the top of the primary hours. I’m talking about the core hours, around which you can not go home and spend time developing your personal life. This is critical. Right now I am not in crunch but I’m spending 10 hours at work a day, plus (until very recently) around 2 hours commuting. Throw in 8 hours sleeping and a few hours for food, and general maintenance and I’m left with very little free time… and that’s time when I’m tired. So that leaves roughly 8% of my day left. Remember that I’m at work for 42% of the day.
When I was a kid my father raced home through what ever traffic he had to face in order to be with the family for an evening meal around 6pm. Then we’d usually retire to the living room and watch TV together. Undoubtedly that’s changed, and kids of certain ages will go up to their rooms to surf the net, go out with friends, whatever… the point is there was an effort made to get together as a family and share time together. In the Animation and VFX industry, as long as you’re working you can only expect to eat at home very late, or you only have time with the family on the weekends.
Up to this point I’ve talked about the family but for far too many a family is a pipe-dream as they haven’t figured out how to get into any sort of relationship, let alone start a family! And this is where individuals can do something about it and give themselves at least a fighting chance of that normal life they grew up to expect.
Now that I’m in my mid 30s I’ve had some good luck and some bad as far as relationships go and that’s a lot more than I can say for my mid 20s. Many people that know me now may find that a surprise as I’m quite open about talking about relationships and dating now. It’s become a passion of mine to share and help others with understanding this topic. More than that it’s become a mission to help people loosen up, try new things and break out of a routine of doing nothing.
Why do so many Animation and VFX Artists do nothing in the dating world? There’s three factors. First this industry attracts a lot of people that aren’t very confident in the first place. That’s why they’re animators and not actors, creating their performances with tools that abstract their feelings, instead of exposing them. Secondly the industry attracts specific types of people, largely males and often females that can handle a largely male workplace so the types of people you will meet day to day are not diverse enough for natural encounters and mixed friendship groups. Thirdly animation industry professionals are very focused on optimism for a better future in their careers, but in reality their circumstances are very rarely all that good right now. So artists work hard to get to that perfect future, sacrificing the now. The idea of attracting someone is easier when you have the perfect job, the perfect home and enough money to entertain, feed and support the ideal lifestyle of a couple. Meanwhile the idea of attracting someone is hard when your working and living conditions are poor, you’ve got no stability and you don’t know where the money to pay your next bill is coming from.
All those people waiting to start dating need to understand one very key thing about dating. It’s a numbers game. No, I’m not saying it’s a game… but I am saying you have to take it seriously for a long time, in a very open minded way and more importantly keep at it. If you are waiting to date, then you’re reducing your odds of finding the right person. If you’re not spending money on dating, and you’re too proud to try a dating service (thinking you’ll find someone naturally), then you’re reducing your odds of finding the right person again. Lets face it, even if you do find someone it’s rare that the first person you form a relationship with will be the one that lasts, so you’re going to have to work at it longer than you might plan for. If you think you’ll find someone naturally remember that 42% of the time you’re at work where the options are limited and you’ve only got 8% of your weekday left to make an effort. You’d better make the most of it.
Half the battle I see in this industry beyond the problems I’ve listed above is that most people think they’re an island and don’t want to talk about it or reach out for help. I don’t mean you should expect others to do it for you… believe me that doesn’t happen. But just sharing with friends and opening up about it, will help you realize you’re surrounded by people in the same situation that can support each other in making efforts to break your current patterns. And change is good. Putting yourself slightly beyond your comfort zone regularly will multiply your options exponentially. So go out, throw parties, make friends outside of work, go to meetups, join dating sites, try speed dating, drag like minded friends to singles events. But make an effort in that 8% of the day you have left so that someday you can return to someone that cares about you everyday and build that life you dreamed of together. Then when she complains you work too long hours, let her chew out the boss at the company event someday!My apologies if this sounds a bit male-centric… I am a guy. But if there are ladies reading this with opinions on dating while working in this business please feel free to comment. I’d love to get your perspective.