Episode 205 — Working from Home


Episode 205 — Working from Home

Welcome to Episode 205! I want to talk about working remotely, how to work from home and give some ideas on how to get started. These are my thoughts on how to transition from working at big studio to working from home — on several jobs! — and how to maximize your revenue. Instead of having one paycheck, you could have several! I will get more tactical about this more later, but for now I just want to give you some key concepts.

In this Podcast, I talk about how to build a successful side hustle until it launches your second career; how to take advantage of today’s tools to build your brand and become so successful, you could work from ANYWHERE (including from home)!



[00:48] Have you ever sent in your reel and wondered why you didn’t get the callback or what the reason was you didn’t get the job? Over the past 20 years of working for studios like ILM, Blur Studio, Ubisoft, I’ve built hundreds of teams and hired hundreds of artists — and reviewed thousands of reels! That’s why I decided to write The Ultimate Demo Reel Guide from the perspective of someone who actually does the hiring. You can get this book for free right now at www.allanmckay.com/myreel!

[03:01] I have a new VFX Training Course available right now at www.VFXCourse.com. This is almost 20 hours of high end live action training. This is a massive Course and you can download all the assets! It won’t be up for much longer, so go get it now, for free!

[39:26] One of the biggest problems we face as artists is figuring out how much we’re worth. I’ve put together a website. Check it out: www.VFXRates.com! This is a chance for you to put in your level of experience, your discipline, your location — and it will give you an accurate idea what you and everyone else in your discipline should be charging. Check it out: www.VFXRates.com!


[03:29] This Episode has to do with working from home, which has been a popular subject on my Podcast. I think it’s a powerful subject, especially when you get to a certain point of your career. To do that, you need to be able to self manage; but until you have that experience, it’s going to be hard to do that for high-end productions. I’ve had a few guest from ILM who’ve done that for the studio, so anything is possible — but it does take many steps to get to that point:

  • You need to get the experience;
  • Build relationships with those studios;
  • Get their trust to be able to segue into working from home.

You could work on high-end films from home. But how do you do it from the beginning?


[05:06] I wanted to think about this recently: How did I start doing it? I am currently based in Portland and it’s far from Hollywood. I moved here and bought my house without any hesitation because I knew I’d always be able to get work online. With the speed of the internet these days, that’s not that big of a deal anymore. BUT! You have to lay the groundwork first. So I gave this a lot of thought: How did I get into this initially? In my teens, I wasn’t old enough to get into studios, so I hung out in chat rooms for VFX artists. That would mean that if someone needed something modeled right at that moment — I’d do it! That was one phase of it: Being around where the work was. Nowadays, anyone can do that!

[07:18] But when you want to get bigger jobs, get bigger clients, that’s when you need to change things around. I had to start thinking about landing lucrative projects and still work from home. In my career, at around 2004, I was working for a lot of movie studios, on high profile films. I was making okay money at the time. I was also starting to get a lot of offers and other opportunities started coming up. Bit by bit, I started to realize that just because I wanted to work on Hollywood movies, it didn’t mean that I actually needed to be in Hollywood. I could relocated to another part of the world.

[08:36] It’s so counter-intuitive to what we’re told. If you start landing work in LA and you aren’t in LA, people tell you to call them once you’ve relocated. I realized that I actually didn’t need to be here. That changed things for me! I would start getting opportunities that I was too busy to do. It got to the point where I had to tell clients, “Please keep trying. I’m not being a dick by saying no all the time! I’m just busy.” Perhaps, you can relate to this: You finish your day worth of work and then you have nothing left to do; so you’re just sitting around. The way I started to get work was by spending my free time on building relationships. I would be reach out to new studios, have meetings and dinners. So when they’d have a new job come up, they’d start to reach out: “Are you available?” Instead of just saying no, I would tell them what I was working on a film; but I could work at nighttime or on weekends. I didn’t want to drive across town (because: LA traffic!) but that I had a fast machine at home and I could do that work from home. That’s how that started! It was simply that: I shared the logic and the solution. Most people said, “That sounds good!”

[11:25] You do have to lay it all out for your potential client and give them the solution. By doing that, I started working on the side for studios like Blur. That meant that at nighttime, I’d go home and work for 4-5 more hours. Bit by bit, that lead to more opportunities. What started happening was that these side paychecks were becoming more lucrative than the paychecks from my full-time job. I’d start saying yes to more jobs. Eventually, I started making more on the side than I did at my job and my frustration kicked in: While I was at work, I had to fill out 8 hours of work. What if the network went down? What if you’re waiting for the client to call? Having these side projects made me think, “If I were at home, I’d be able to jump on this other project!” That’s where things started to pick up. I was making more money with my side jobs and I was wasting time at my full-time job. The full-time job was holding me back. I could just switch between 2, 3, 4 jobs as long as I was managing myself.


[13:46] But the whole point was that I didn’t just decide to go work from home one day. I didn’t start from scratch. You can use the social media analogy over here: You can go and try all this new stuff, but you have to keep putting in the work into those things [in order to see real results]. You have to build it from scratch. The key thing here — is the transition. You have your full-time job but on the side, you start bringing in jobs. After a while, that side career will start to take off. Once it gets to the point where you main job holds you back — that’s when you jump! By doing that, you have another 8 hours in a day. But the key thing I wanted to communicate here — is transitioning! You have to have the realization that you could be doing this right now.

[15:12] The way I would be getting all these jobs was by putting my name out there. I talked about the importance of building a name, building a brand, building relationships. I am not going to just say, “I’m going to sit down and quit my job and start a new company”. That’s not going to happen! You have to get it going on the side. Once it looks like you have enough work coming in, you can then decide it how to run it. You have to treat your side hustle like a business:

  • Have your website;
  • Have a demo reel on your website;
  • Have a way to get people to your website;
  • Leverage your social media.

I got a phone call today because someone saw a post on my Instagram. They wanted to buy something for the film they were doing. As simple as that! It all starts by making your stuff visible. You can have people who are in the industry follow you, who are looking for solutions.

[17:30] I am shocked to see who follows me on Instagram. There is a lot of entrepreneurs, business people, artists of whom I’m big fan. Knowing that those people are looking at my stuff, I have a direct line to them if I ever needed their attention. By having someone follow you, you can contact them directly now. And that’s just Instagram. Think about all these other channels. If I were a modeler and I wanted to get in front of video game studios, I would do the work that would interest them and then I’d tag them. My wife has been amazing on Instagram by getting high profile people’s attention. She has the people from Shark Tank follow her now. It’s about getting the attention of these people!


[19:48] When I look at what I was doing back then — building relationships and going online, putting my services out there — people would contact me and say, “Do you want a job?” I would tell them I could only work at night and on weekends. Taking on several jobs changed everything. The world has changed since! Nowadays, we have direct access to people via social channels. I remember the first email I ever sent. These days, you can reach someone directly. You can almost reach anyone these days. It’s frustrating sometimes to see people not be successful. If you just did one tenth of the effort of what everyone else is doing — you would be successful! When I say I’m going to do something, I will do it. But I have friends who don’t see things through. There have been times when they come up with a business idea. But 99% of the people out there aren’t consistent with what they do. They don’t think about the long-term goal. Most people get things going and give up when it’s tough.

[24:19] So knowing the tools we have today, knowing that you can get off the butt, the more success you can accomplish. As I’m saying this, I can hear some of you saying, “It’s easy for you, Allan! It’s different for me!” Most people aren’t doing things. By using the tools and technology out there, you could already be successful. You could get the attention of some amazing company by creating content and tagging people on it. I have this amazing Photoshop artist follow me and his work is amazing. But I admire him for his hustle. Because I see talent everywhere but it’s not rare these days. But being consistent is what captures my attention. There is a checklist of things I respect. He started out doing the work that he loved doing and he started getting traction. So you can think about how to leverage that stuff. It’s so easy to get exposure these days! You have so many tools on your phone alone and you could reach anyone!

[28:02] I recently put up some stuff on Instagram that I was doing on my own. I got so much attention for something I did in LA for fun. It was some photography but a bit technical. You get the attention of the right people and they create opportunities for you! All you have to do is start doing what I’ve been telling you to do! That’s why I interview Industry Leaders on my Podcast. These people get off the butts and create their own opportunities. They’re doing what other people are putting on hold. I chatted to one of the big studios in LA and their owner said, “We don’t bother with social media.” Their competitors come in and take advantage of the opportunities. And the main thing is consistency. If something is working — do more of that.

[30:57] Whether you’re an individual or a business, you have to do your own marketing and to build your relationships. If you’re resisting, there might be a reason behind it. We all have a certain spite for social media. But it can be a way to beat your competition down. You can also treat it as a billboard outside your business. You have to think about the long term reception of your company. Build your name! Build the awareness of your business! This is all about the power of promotion.

[33:15] As I talk about working remotely, I see the benefit of doing social media in this day and age. The way I got the second train going was by hustling on the side, building my name and building my brand. These days, you have the entire planet accessible to you. Now is the time to do it and to build your brand. You could be doing it while on public transportation, on your way home. It’s so easy now! I used to play a game online. If there was a girl liked, I would bet 5 messages to get her to suggest going out for some drinks. I could just open a line of communication. The same goes for talking to someone about a potential job. You have to put it on them to make the move and you could control the situation. This just happened today: I saw my old boss on social media. I thought that I could comment on his post and see the reaction. That’s an interesting way to trigger someone’s attention toward you. You just have to capture their attention.

[37:30] I hope you got a lot out of this and that you benefit from it.

I hope you found this Episode valuable. My challenge to you is to start using this information. What if you could get a side job? What if you could start getting out of your comfort zone and building your Second Train career?

Go to www.VFXCourse.com for free training. It’s 18 hours of training for free!

I will be back next week with the subject on how to build exposure. It will give you some really cool ideas. I will be back next week.

Until then —

Rock on!


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