What We Look For in a Portfolio -Applicant Edition!
Updated: May 7
Hello intrepid SFXers.
So you're applying for a place on out course...that means one thing....
It’s time to start thinking about your applications to study on the best SFX course in the country and to do that you’re gonna need a kick ass portfolio.!
So you ask, if I want to make monsters and creatures and cool stuff, what do I need to put in my portfolio? Well, I will tell you, you’ll need a few things if you really want to catch our eye. Now portfolios will be a little different this year as we’ll be asking you to send them in prior to arranging a ZOOM interview… A ZOOM-terview. So you might need to add a few more notes, explaining your choices and/or material selection etc, that we’d usually pick up during the interview.
Show Us that Brain
Firstly, your portfolio should be a representation of yourself. We want to see what makes you tick, what you are passionate about and what you’re brilliant at. The world of SFX is so vast and varied in it’s applied skills that most skill sets are relevant. Don’t be afraid of putting work in your portfolio that you (or a college tutor) think doesn’t “fit” or isn’t relevant. What’s important is that you can show your ability to excel in an area that you’re passionate about. If you love something and think it shows off your skills then blooming well put it in.
Next up; We like to see a good level of things we call principle skills. One of these is drawing. Drawing is our best way of communicating visually, quickly. We’ve been in many a production meeting and had a producer or director describe something that they need/want for a shot and because we can draw, we’ve been able to show them. As they’re speaking, you do a quick sketch and say “like this?” to which they respond, invariably “ yes but with smaller ears”.
To this end be sure to include some level of your capacity to render images in 2D. This could be pages from a sketch book that shows your working out or exploration of an idea, life drawing images either from classes attended or done in your own time, it could be fully finished/polished pencil or ink illustrations… Anything that shows your ability to take what’s inside your brain and put it into the world. WE WANT TO SEE INSIDE YOUR BRAIN!!!
Huh… We might need to dial that enthusiasm back a bit. Creepy.
You know what we mean!? Show us how your mind works and how you like to approach problem solving.
Other principle skills include sculpture and working in 3D. Digital processes and techniques are a huge part of our industry these days and any previous experience you might have with things like Photoshop or Zbrush as well as CAD modelling will be very nice to see. Basic engineers skills and tool work. Think of these skills as the foundation on which fledgling SFX career can build.
The world of Special Effects is a highly creative one but it is also incredibly technical. So anything that you can include in your portfolio that shows technical ability and understanding is a huge boon. Made some moulds? Stick them in! Just be sure to include some notes about your materials and processes, we’re very big on material knowledge. Did some life-casting? Hells yeah, put some pictures in. Oh you can use workshop machinery? Brilliant show me some of your work and describe what machines and processes you used to complete it. Love puppets? Heck show us that stuff! Oh you like to Cosplay!
Aces, so do some of us. Show us what you’ve made and what obstacles you had to overcome to make it.
Next up; the best applicants can demonstrate an ability to critically evaluate their work. Spot problems and figure out a course of action that will eliminate said problems next time. If you’ve got a piece of work that you’re proud of but are aware of its flaws. Put it in! Not only put it in but make the time to re-work it and show us how and what you’ve improved.
Our course is genuinely one of the best in the country right now and that’s because we select students that are hard working and passionate about their field. If you’re interested in a subject then don’t wait for college to show you. GO DO SOME RESEARCH AND DO IT YOURSELF! Nothing is worse than an applicant that doesn’t work on projects outside of college or complains that “I really want to do that but college hasn’t shown me yet”. This world is yours for the taking. If you want to learn a skill then go learn it. If you want to understand something then go ask someone about it. All work done in this spirit of adventurous learning is worthwhile. Even if you really make a hash of this finished thing. Put it in your portfolio and write a little note about what you did and how you tried… And what you’ll do better next time.
Don’t show us EVERYTHING pick your best 10-15 images of your best pieces of work and weave a story with them. If you want to show us some older work to demonstrate how far you’ve already come, great. Do it! Just make sure you’re not putting work into your portfolio for the sake of it or because someone told you to. Ask yourself what each piece of work brings to the conversation and if it really demonstrates how brilliant and deserving of a place on our course you are. If the answer is “Yes” then leave that sucker in. If it’s a “no” then it simply hasn’t made the cut.
Lastly, be visual. We’re a course focussed on a very visual realm. Make sure your images are a high resolution and nicely formatted. Use a clean and appropriate layout so as to best show off your brilliant work. Your portfolio is YOUR chance to show us that you kick ass and deserve a chance to study with us for your degree.
We’re so proud of the things we’ve achieved on our course during our time. Our graduates work on some of the highest profile movies and TV shows and have fantastic careers making silly little monsters. We want you to continue this good work and to blow us away with your enthusiasm for the craft and your ability to grow as creators.
Good luck and we can't wait to see your work!