What 20 Years of Failing in VFX Has Taught Me

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Throughout my career I’ve had a lot of successes. But what most people don’t realize, and what most of us in general try not to dwell on — is that we have a lot of failures too. A lot of mistakes, a lot of life lessons that were learned through making the wrong decisions, falling flat on our face, burning bridges and having doors slammed shut in our face.

What a lot of us don’t care to realize, is failure is part of the process. We need to fail, we need to make mistakes, all of this is data we use and apply to better our successes down the line. And, those really painful mistakes, the ones we will never forget — are the ones that ensure that we don’t make the same mistakes again, and again and again.

Embrace your failures, learn from them and better yourself! Use them to make better decisions down the line and avoid repeating them in the future! It’s natural to shy away from the events that we didn’t have wins, but these are just as critical to lean into as they’re the pains that will guide our successes in the future.

I hope you find this talk valuable. It’s one I was excited to do, as well as insecure about ever posting.



P.S.: This applies to everyone in the creative field such as 3D (Zbrush, Vray, 3DS Max, Maya, Houdini, Cinema 4D, C4S, Blender, Modo,) Design (Photoshop, After Effects, Nuke, Digital Fusion, Blackmagic, daVinci, Resolve, Flame, Inferno). Students from Gnomon, Creative Live, Video Copilot, Film Riot, TheFutur or any other online education, nofilmschool or any other film school.

Youtube comments:

Fatutta Gabriele
Thanks Allan, I like the honesty with which you talk about these topic like failures, money etc.. I'm really inspired by your words and by the way you have dealt the obstacles you have found in your life. Thanks again,Gabriele
Visionary Fire
Watched this video from start to finish, tremendous value.
Drunken Pirate
will i have a hard time at rockstar studios or ubisoft because i modded in online games years ago and got banned? XD
Mourad Fx
You are an inspiration, mate. Thanx. I need this now.
S Earle
Also- I love the idea of saying yes to everything. I never say no to anything (unless it's something weird like burning crosses).
S Earle
I feel like a crazy person for ever thinking that a degree would open doors in this industry. Man, I've spent so much money moving around to London, NYC, and now LA just studying and networking. I just spent 7 months freelancing and working on my skills, which has helped. I'm always looking for that junior role where I can grow and add to my skill set. It's just like, man, no one ever tells you how many years and money it costs to get to that first break. It definitely has that starving artist aspect to it.
Shiny Heart
What TED talk about procrastination you were talking about? Could you provide a link? Thanks!
Absolutely phenomenal talk! You're a fountain of information and knowledge. Thank you for sharing your insights!
Thanks for this. I spent my life trying to do VFX and I'm close to 60 now, and whilst I like to think I've done some great work both commercially and personally, I think ultimately I failed. I started when it was so hard to get into the game (I blagged a job on "Empire Strikes Back"), but could never get the leg-up to continue in motion pictures. Then all the new kids came up behind me with their CG chops, and I struggled. Since then most of what I do is motion graphics, and it's paid the bills, but I never got to do the real stuff I wanted, particles, destruction, pyro etc. You are the "master of disaster" I always wanted to be, so kudos to you sir. I would love to Skype some time if you have a moment.
Chirag Ojha
Bringing up Rocky scene was completely unexpected. One of my life changing scenes ever ever.. Keep moving forward.
Chirag Ojha
Okay I may fail, but I will give the best I can in the given situation. - Allan.It so much resonates with some of my recent decisions, that helped me get better opportunities.
Mo Sabri
damn he's surprisingly fat
Ruiming Chen
I’m just a vfx fan and I found your channel from a vfx breakdown video. Vfx aside, I really love the stories you share with us. They are very relating and inspiring for me greatly. Thank you!
Igor Puskaric
That was great! Thanx for sharing! :D
Mason Williams
Thanks man...really inspired content that you're providing...appreciated!
Anthony Lynch
37:25 did i hear that correctly? you quit school at age 14? That's awesome actually
Omar Buckley
Great talk bro.
David Nguyen
Allan,Been a huge fan of your stuff since you first threw out your FumeFX tutorial WAY back. I sorta grew up with your tutorials and your talks and ran into you a few times at a few conventions and gatherings but at that time I wasn't in VFX.The reason why I'm reaching out; I saw your talk about what you learned in 20 years. And you spoke about the back talk and how it affected your future. I'm glad to see someone who went through something similar is still trying. I got scared and went into a dark place when I thought there was nothing left for me.I'm hanging in there, and a lot of it was thanks to watching you grow as well. I hope we can work together one day. I'm still very new to all of this but I'll catch up soon and would be a huge honor to learn under you one day.
Michael Akinfenwa
Thank you Allan, your story teaches me a lot of things,thanks
Parth Prajapati
Awesome speech To booster up