Meet our super Brown Bag Dublin-based Production Coordinator Marie Malherbe! She’s a testament to the old adage that persistence is the key to success! We talked to her about how she got into animation, her current role and what advice she has to share with others who might be thinking about a career in animation.
How did you get into animation?
I've always been attracted to the production management side of things; first for live-action cinema but then I realised I could do that same job in the animation industry. At the time, I was living in west France and I called every single animation company in France listed on the “French Animation Studios” Wikipedia page looking for an opportunity.
After my 5th call to Les Films de l’Arlequin, the head producer gave up and said “I'm not saying no”. The week after, I was on a train to Paris to start an internship at the studio. I met amazing people during my 3 months there and managed to join Gobelin's production management program a few years after.
How long have you worked in the animation industry?
My first internship was in 2012. Then, I had my first apprenticeship at Gaumont Animation Studio in 2015. For 3 months, I was scanning Patrick Cohen's drawings and running errands like getting HB pencils and animation paper. Patrick was working on a hand drawn animated short film and had been previously working for Disney Studios in France.
What's your current role and what does it involve?
Currently, I am a Production Assistant on Season 2 of Vampirina. Being a Production Assistant mainly involves overseeing the scheduling and deadlines of several artistic and technical teams.
It's also taking care of solving any daily production issues and finding solutions to anything brought up by the Heads of Department. In addition, I liaise with our clients, sending them designs for review and approval and manage their feedback.
What are your biggest influences and inspiration?
The advantages of working in a big studio like Brown Bag Films is that there are a lot of people to look up to and be inspired by. As, in my opinion, most production jobs involve management in some form, I try to pay attention to the people working around me and observe how they act in complicated situations; whether it's handling conflict or dealing with important work tasks.
I'm still in touch with some production people I trained with back in France and the UK and this is also a really good source of support for me. We discuss issues we’ve encountered on a weekly basis because I find it extremely important to get an outside perspective on situations.
What's your favourite tool to use and why?
I use Wunderlist and Coffitivity a lot. I like to write lists and Wunderlist keeps it all together for me so I don't forget anything. Coffitivity just keeps my mind on track, it's a sound bank of white noise.
What advice would you give someone considering getting into the animation industry?
I’m really just starting myself but I would say in production, especially, it’s important to build a strong spine; you might have to give bad news sometimes and push back on a lot of things with confidence.
You will need to learn to trust yourself and be firm in your decision making without being insensitive or disrespectful.
If you find yourself supervising a technical department, it’s ok to tell the very talented artist you’re working with that you’re not sure of some of the technical details they’re talking about. Tell them that you would love to know more about how they do this and that, you can’t know or understand everything! Sometimes the best thing to say is “I don't know, but I'm gonna look into it and get back to you”.
What do you like most about working in animation?
Being surrounded by extremely talented people. It's gratifying to be part of gorgeous projects that have a great impact. Being able to go to work every day with a smile on your face is quite satisfying.
What's been the most challenging thing about working in animation?
When I first started, I found it terrifying being in charge of the schedule of colleagues with 10-15 years experience. It all came down to confidence in the things you know and being able to recognize when you’re not entirely sure what is going on. Most of the time people will gladly talk you through what they do.
I can also find it challenging to maintain a good work/life balance because I can be very passionate about my job.
Outside of animation what are you most passionate about?
Dinosaurs. And exploring new places.