Pioneer spirit

Media Design School 07 Mar 2012 Comments

In 2001, Chrissy Metge was one of Media Design School’s first female animation graduates looking for work in New Zealand’s non-existent animation industry.
Today she is the Assistant Production Manager of Animation and Crowds at Lucasfilm in Singapore. She has realised her dream of working on a full-length animated feature and been part of The Wotwots and Legend of the Guardians among other major projects. She travelled from Singapore to share her journey with students.

A long time ago…
Chrissy worked for free to get a start in animation and her big break came with Bro Town in 2004. She was hired for her Photoshop skills and worked as production secretary in her downtime.
She urged students not to discount New Zealand’s small studios.
“You get a chance to try everything and figure out what you like.”
It was here that Chrissy discovered that her passion for animation was matched by a passion for people and she took up a position as production coordinator for Roadshow Productions in the Gold Coast.
Luckily, Chrissy had a secret weapon at Roadshow - the secret staff door leading into Movieworld. She often took her team for a ride on Superman Escape (0 to 100kph in two seconds) to “relieve stress”.
“Sometimes people take things too seriously – this industry is meant to be about having fun. I make sure people relax and enjoy their craft.”

A new home…
Before long, Weta Workshop came calling and Chrissy moved home to take The WotWots from script to screen.
She walked past a giant bunny, the wall of weapons and a cabinet of skulls to get to the toilet each day and says Weta was the most fun she’s had yet.
However, her dream was to work on an animated feature, so she headed back across the ditch to coordinate the animation team on Legends of the Guardian: The owls of Ga’Hoole.
The film took roughly two years to create at a rate of around four seconds of footage per week.
By the end she had two new offers – Happy Feet or Lucasfilm. For Chrissy the choice was simple.

In a galaxy far far away…
The chance to work in one of the world’s most prestigious and established production companies was irresistible and Chrissy now directly manages a team of 30 animators in Singapore.
She can’t reveal the latest project but could say it was an animated feature film and it is not Star Wars.
“Sometimes I feel like an undercover agent – I can’t even tell my parents what I am working on.”
Thanks to the Lucasfilm’s willingness to share resources, Chrissy rubs arms with the animators behind Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean and Super 8.
“It is only now having put it all together that I realise how amazing my career has been.  I was just stubborn and kept moving forward.”

Industry advice in a nutshell

1. Don’t Give up: “The industry is glamorous, but it will try to spit you out at every opportunity”
2. Market yourself: “You need to get out and talk to people, have a reel online and let people know about it”
3. Don’t piss anyone off: “You are only as good as your last job”
4. Have a great attitude: “You can teach someone the tools but if they have a chip on their shoulder it won’t work for the team”
5. Always have goals: “You need a big goal – and create some stepping stones to get there”