Spencer Fitch is a Lighting TD at The Moving Picture Company, one of the global leaders in VFX for film and advertising. He’s also a current Full Sail student, just a few months away from receiving his bachelor’s in Computer Animation.
He landed the position after completing the studio’s ten-week, in-house MPC Academy – to which he applied while on campus. “It was seven months prior to graduation, and I had been working on my portfolio while attending school. And during that time I decided to apply to MPC Academy, which is kind of like a jump-start into the film industry. It’s paid training, and once you complete the Academy, you transition into production.”
Applying to the Academy was just like applying for a job, explains Spencer. “You submit a cover letter, resume, and portfolio, and hope your work stands out.” After receiving a reply from MPC, he scheduled a phone interview with David Hirst, the man who he later learned serves as the company’s global head of Lighting.
“Luckily I didn’t know that while I was interviewing,” Spencer laughs. “Or I might have been a little more nervous.”
It only took two days to receive an official offer; after that, Spencer packed his things, transferred into Full Sail’s online Computer Animation program, and moved to Canada to work at the studio’s location in Montréal. He spent the next ten weeks learning MPC’s operating software and pipeline. “MPC has a huge library of material to which they can draw on for training purposes. Once we were taught the basics, we were able to continue our training using some pretty awesome material.”
We asked Spencer what he’s been up to most recently, now that he’s a full-time employee – but a confidentiality agreement is keeping him quiet about that for now.
So then, what about future goals? “That’s a really good question. Obviously I’m really happy where I’m at now, but getting too comfortable or complacent keeps you in the same place, and I do want to move up the ladder. I’d like to make mid-level artist next year, then move up to senior artist after about six years in the industry. I don’t know if I would want to be a producer or supervisor, mainly because when you get to that level, it’s more about management. That’s not really what I want to do; I want to continue to be an artist. And after maybe 15 or 20 years in the industry, I’d like to teach. I actually think teaching back at Full Sail would be pretty cool.”
Spencer credits Full Sail for providing him with the knowledge necessary to enter the industry as well as the real-world skills to continue developing on his own. “It wasn’t easy,” he explains both seriously and good-naturedly. “I had to work 14, 15, even 16 hours a day for the two years I was at Full Sail just to get where I’m at now. There were a lot of sacrifices – no watching TV, no playing video games, just solely focusing on art. If you really want it, you want it.”
He admits that switching now to online coursework presents new challenges, but feels fortunate to be surrounded by a network of like-minded professionals. “I think if [online students] aren’t out in the industry, they need to find a way to network with people, or find a constant base of people who are doing the same things as them. Doing everything on your own is a lot harder.”
“Networking is huge – but it’s not the end-all-be-all,” he adds. “I always try to reach out to industry professionals, but I use them as guides. How did they get where they are? With that, I can figure out how to achieve the same results. The groundwork has already been laid. It’s whether you’re willing to follow that path to get there – and the path is usually hard work and dedication.”
Fortunately, dedication does not seem to Spencer to be a great obstacle. “It’s funny,” he recalls, “when I first started Full Sail, when I went on the Behind the Scenes tour, I told my mom: ‘I’m going to make Hall of Fame.’ I feel like I’m one step closer to that.”