Episode 154 — Q & A with Allan McKay


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Episode 154 — Q & A with Allan McKay

Hey, everyone!

This is Allan McKay. Welcome to Episode 154! I’m doing some Q & A.

Before we start, go check out the Ultimate Demo Reel Book at www.allanmckay.com/myreel. This book disqualifies all the wrong information out there. It’s written through my perspective of someone who has hired hundreds of thousands of artists and build dozens of team. I’ve seen so many reels dismissed because of a simple mistake. Get this book for free, as well as the 2-Hour Masterclass by going to www.allanmckay.com/myreel.

This Episode came from a Survey. It was interesting to have people share insights on what’s holding them back. This Podcast is more of a tough love. I’ve had to push some buttons to get the honest answer from a person on what holds him / her back. With this Survey, I got more of surface answers. So I encourage people to dig dipper. It blows my mind when I see people who are allergic to putting time into themselves. We want to do what we do because we’re passionate, but money is one way to have freedom to do what you want — and help other people as well.

You should be asking yourself these questions daily so that you can figure out what bullshit responses you give yourself. If your bullshit is about a lack of time — track your time and figure out where you drain it (like on Netflix). Honesty with yourself will make you raise your goals. The deeper you get, the more you realize what’s driving you. Go beyond the surface level shit. I played this game from Pat Flynn called “So I Can”.

  • “I want to do visual effects — so I can make money.”
  • “I want to have a house — so I can relax and start doing other things.”

Once you do that, you trick yourself to get to the core reason. Then you can have the big shift in your life. Whatever your motivators are, you need to get to those. If you hire a career consultant, that’s exactly what they help you figure out. This is what this Q & A ended up being: I just started reading some answers and the tone for me changed really quickly. I had someone who signed up for my Mentorship, for example, who thought of quitting after 2 months — just so that he could sign up for my next course. His excuse was because he didn’t have time. I stopped him from quitting the Mentorship. I do offer a Lifetime Access to the coursework.

I want to push people past the resistance. Some people succumb to it. Others move forward.

Let’s dive in!



This Episode came from a Survey that Allan McKay held on the subject of: What’s holding you back? This Podcast is more of a tough love. In it, Allan McKay tackles the answers on the subjects of resistance and obstacles like:

  • Lack of experience;
  • Lack of time;
  • Lack of discipline;
  • Not having the connections;
  • Not speaking English;
  • Living outside of the industry.

So dig past the BS you’re telling yourself and start to figure out how to take action toward your dream job!


[13:55] One of the answers that came up was [about] wanting to work in feature films but not living in California — and feeling like they wouldn’t be considered. 

I always say you should go where the work is. If you want to drink water, go park yourself at the well. But it is 2018 and working remotely isn’t always impossible. It just comes down to your experience and who you’re working for. In general, it’s better to go where the work is — but it doesn’t mean that you cannot work remotely.

In addition, every single city will have a studio these days. If you want to work on Marvel movies, you should go where those studios are. It’s harder to negotiate working remotely early in your career, but 10 years in it will be easier. Obviously, LA and New York have work. Georgia and New Orleans, Boston are starting to have it. You name it! Internationally, I can go on and on.

The question is more about having to be in California to be considered for work. I should mention my buddy who wanted to work in LA and he kept sending his resumes and they kept sending back a response, “Thanks, when you get to LA — give us a call!” What he did was get a 310 number and say he was now in LA. He got a job interview, flew out for that and started work the following week. As far as they’re concerned, he lived there (while he actually lived in Texas). You do have the option working remotely.


[16:51] Another answer that came up was about not having enough time to put together a good demo reel. 

When it’s your first reel, it is going t be overwhelming. You aren’t piggybacking on everyone else’s work. You do all of it. You don’t need it to be that overwhelming: Set a goal that in three months you’ll have three good shots (one shot per month), then work 1-2 hours a day on achieve that goal. Get up at 6:00 a.m. and work your ass off and don’t make excuses. If you want something, make time for it. Set your goals to be realistic. Having three good shots on your reel — to demonstrate your ability — is great and it doesn’t have to be complicated. It all it takes to get a job. FX is a huge trap because simulations are so heavy, it’s hard to get iterations out. Try to pick something you can get out the door realistically and not be hindered by technology.

But the biggest thing — is to set the goal. Put in an hour before you go to work. Make time for it. Get ready for work the night before. Set your renders in the evening or in the morning after you go to work. It’s a test is to see if you’re motivated enough. If you aren’t doing it, it says you’re not motivated.


[19:51] What’s the biggest issue standing between you and your dream job? Most of the time, people answer that it’s lack of time and poor time management. By saying that, you’re acknowledging that you not putting it into practice. All of us should be efficient with our time. I do have plenty of material available on my site in regards to this subject:

Another issue is networking. If that’s the obstacle that’s holing you back, take ownership of it. If you’re looking for employers, having the right reel, pitch is important. You need to point out these things — productivity, motivation, networking — that require you to take action. I’ve talked to my friend of mine about what was holding back. She talked about being good. But when I reworded the question, it became about the one competitor who was standing in her way. Get that honesty from yourself! Dig past the BS you’re telling yourself. That way you can start figuring out what needs to change and how you can start taking action.


[25:12] Another insecurity that came up was about whether people’s work was good enough to be put on a reel to get a job with a studio. You may need to target people around you who don’t have an emotional investment around you and who can give you cold feedback. Go to forums and conferences and approach professionals for opinions. Those are the people you will end up building relationships with.

You can also start looking at other people’s reels who are in the industry: Which ones are similar to you and which ones are better? Be realistic and look at people who are only a few steps ahead of your (not 20 years in the industry ahead). Approach them and ask them what made them to step up their game.


[27:25] Some people said that the biggest obstacle was themselves. By doing that, you’re reinforcing that you aren’t capable. You have to dig deeper! I hate responses like that because you’re either beating yourself down or not looking deep enough.

Another obstacle is lack of experience. That’s fine: Go get the experience. Work on a student film, go contribute. If you meet a director and they’re working on a short film, jump on that train and get footage for your reel. I had this happen to me this week: I had a feature film reach out to me for an opinion. I told him I would work for free — if it’s good. What I’m really focused on is getting the experience.

Another obstacle is location. There is the question of visas and other stuff you need to do. But I know there is still work in your country. The industry isn’t as big. But you do have access on the internet. You may not get a job working on a Marvel film in Vancouver. You may not have the experience to move to the US and Canada. But you can start getting the initial work remotely. You can start working on stepping stones. For the next three years, you can say yes to every job that comes your way. If you want change, you have to be the catalyst for it. 


[34:00] Another obstacle was needing to support a family while switching careers. That’s a real thing, of course! According to my survey, there are more people wanting to switch careers than people starting out. People want to switch to a career they are more passionate about. When it is a second career, you have to take time to transition. You have to be intelligent about it.

I’m proud of the content I’ve been putting out. I’ve written a 4-Part Series on How to Transition to Another Career. If you want to have access to my free content, please sign up for my VIP Insiders List at: www.allanmckay.com/inside/. I want to revisit this subject in the near future.

It’s more about making decisions that are reversible. When you move to LA without a job lined up, it can be risky, especially when you’re responsible for other people’s well being. If your family is understanding, they will have your back as well. There may be some bumpy times, but you can definitely can do it. It’s a valid situation.


[37:41] Another obstacle is not having enough knowledge. You have the internet! There is so much information out there. There is paralysis by analysis. The best thing to do is find the source that you trust. I’m the same way: I want to learn things. The secret to learn is to learn just in time, rather than just in case. When you’re doing something, have a project in mind. Find that one person and go in on that one thing. Learn one way and experiment. You’re going to figure it out pretty quickly which way is working. You will start to see the results.

A good analogy is running. If you look up to see how far you have to run, it’s more intimidating. Focus on your feet and one step at the time.


[40:39] Another obstacle was the volume of people job hunting. That’s a real issue, once again. Every job you’re applying for, you need to figure out how you’re going to stand out; or as I call it How to Enter Through the Side Door (www.allanmckay.com/11/). If you’re doing what everyone else is doing, how are you going to stand out? Even if you have 10X the experience? It’s about front loading the work to rise above the noise. Think about all that stuff.

I know people who hang out at bars where the right studios hang out.


[42:21] Another obstacle is not speaking English. I’ve interview Arman Yahin at Main Road Post (www.allanmckay.com/87/) There is a VFX industry in Russia. Go to your local market, then go on from there.


[42:52] The last response to my survey was: There are only challenges not obstacles. That’s exactly it. There are no obstacles, only challenges. Kudos to that! That’s the sort of thing that I love hearing — because it’s about the mindset. A lot of the stuff coming up as resistance is what you’re telling yourself. When you do start to ask yourself the right questions, the more clarity you achieve.


I hope this was valuable to some of you. Glancing at the survey, this is valuable to answer some of the stuff. I’m doing a webinar for Demo Reels and showing advanced system approaches. I wanted to get an insight on where you are.

  • If you have questions, shoot me an email: [email protected] Share the questions that you have.
  • Make sure to get the free Demo Reel Book with a free 2-Hour Masterclass: www.allanmckay.com/myreel. I’ve been building other additional videos as follow-ups. I really want to give away all this free content that ties together to give you everything you need.

Next couple of Episodes will be on building strong relationships. This is a chance for us to step it up and really hustle. Get excited about this.

Until then —

Rock on!

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