My interview with ILM was a bit strange because I wasn't actually there to do it in person. I was in Tennessee at the time, which is a bit far from San Francisco. So, they decided to have a phone interview with me.
The interview started with everyone introducing themselves to me, at which point I realized I was in a conference call with anywhere from four to seven people. It's kind of a blur now, but from what I remember the group consisted of a couple of the recruiters, the associate animation supervisor for Transformers 2, the animation supervisor, possibly a producer for the film (can't remember for sure), and Shawn Kelly who was nice enough to be there for moral support. Fortunately, they couldn't see my hands shaking or how I was pacing around the room.
Once the formalities were over, the real interview began. They started by asking about my workflow and how I approach shots. They were especially interested in whether I used video reference and how I plan my animation. Letting them know that I use video reference when starting nearly every shot I do definitely put me on their good side... just a little tip.
The next batch of questions focused on what types of animation I was comfortable with, where I felt I could use improvement, and what types of animation I hoped to do in my career. I was honest with them about areas that I felt I was less confident in without making myself seem inept. I also stressed to them how excited I was about animation, and that I had a huge drive to want to tackle those areas of inexperience. I told them that, at the time, I was more versed in body mechanics than I was with facial performances. They asked me which I would choose if I was given the opportunity to animate either a body mechanics focused shot or a mostly facial performance acting shot. I told them that on a movie like Transformers I was of course hoping to animate some crazy action scenes, but at this point in my career, I would choose the acting shot because it had the most potential to improve my skill set as an animator. I think that was the right answer.
I made it very clear that I wanted to learn as much as I could about all areas of animation and had no desire to be typecast into only the things I was already comfortable with. They asked me if I was interested in "hard surface" animation, to which I replied "umm.... what?" So, after laughing at me and being reminded of just how green I really was, they explained that it meant things like cars, planes, boats, etc. Fortunately, most companies that hire recent graduates are aware that you don't have years of experience under your belt, and a lot of what they are looking for is potential and drive. I definitely wanted to sell myself to them in the interview, but I was also very careful to be honest and not make any claims I couldn't back up. Besides, if I tried to misrepresent my skill set and was hired, it could only end in failure if my work didn't live up to the hype. Basically what I'm saying is, don't try it. I've heard stories of guys that have, and it usually doesn't end well.
Next, they asked if I was excited about Transformers 2. I proceeded to go mega-geek on them and explain the toy collection of my youth and my enjoyment of Leonard Nimoy's voice performance as Galvatron in the 80's Transformers movie. Shawn Kelly was actually the person who told me to not be afraid of being enthusiastic. He said that dorking out over a project was actually preferred, and that nothing was worse than an interviewee who seems uninterested. So I let loose with some enthusiasm, and fortunately he had given me good advice. So listen up when the man writes a blog post... it may get you a job.
After that they let me ask any questions I had. I was too afraid of asking something stupid, so I declined. They uttered the greatest string of syllables that I had ever heard in my 26 years of living: "Can you start on Monday?"