I made it to SIGGRAPH this morning, eager to get to our recruiting booth and talk about how awesome we are! But as I made my way to registration, I hadn't taken in to account one major problem. It would take me an hour to move 50 feet. I'm not talking about registration. Actually that was efficient and well managed. What I'm referring to is the problem of having been in this business for 25 years. I had barely walked out of the parking lot before I ran it to my Head of Production, and we began discussing the day ahead. A former artist appeared, stopping me to say hello. Another few steps and a former instructor and friend from USC stopped to tell me that I should visit the new school. A few more and I ran in to a marketing director for a friendly competitor. I arrived at 9:30. By 10:30 I had walked 50 feet and given away five cards.
When I was at USC Film School (now called the School of Cinematic Arts), it was all about being at the school, how cool it was, all the facilities, the prestige. But by the end of film school you realize it's not the school or the classes that make it special. There are a lot of schools that offer the same education. It's not like USC invented film (well, maybe...). But when you leave, you realize it's all about the people. Connections are everything, and helping your friends, supporting and even nurturing each other makes the difference in an industry that is very cut throat and honestly impossible to navigate. But the "USC Mafia", as it's called, helps you manage it all, and if used right (meaning YOU support others as much as they support you), that community is the difference between success and failure.
SIGGRAPH has a bit of that mafia feel to it. I don't really attend as much these days to learn anything. My job has me focused on other areas, and I'm usually being Mr. Manager more than Mr. Artist these days. But what it does allow is an opportunity to meet old friends, make new ones, further develop relationships, and to confirm that I'm still around, and my friends are as well.
So the 50 feet is the reason I attend. Meeting people I've spent a career working with, getting to know and struggling with helps support our own type of mafia. It's these people, who I've worked with for nearly 25 years now, that I can turn to for a laugh, a job or a shoulder. That's why I come to SIGGRAPH, and why I will always come until I retire... and maybe a few years after.
John Parenteau is with Pixomondo. Check out the Website at: www.pixomondo.com.