We caught up with this year’s Search For A Star Games VFX winner, Sam Mayson from the University of Hertfordshire, to find out what it’s been like to win the challenge and what they’ve learned since reaching the finals last year.
On winning Search For A Star
“I’m absolutely bloody chuffed that I’ve won!
After being a runner up last year, it just made me more and more excited to come back and give it another go and I’m very pleased to have won this time around.
When I was watching the stream and Dan said that I had won, I was absolutely ecstatic. I vividly remember leaping off my out of my chair and punching the ceiling!”
How it’s helped gain interest from games studios
“I’ve had a few conversations with a few very nice studios and felt a bit spoilt for choice at time!
One of the Sumo Digital studios actively reached out to me after Search For A Star was approaching its end. They saw my project and thought it was impressive and they wanted to reach out to me for a possible junior position. I had already interviewed a couple of other places and decided that I would accept a more local position [with Digital Salmon].
The best thing about Search for a Star is that 90% of the Studios in the country have heard of it, and about 80% of them know what it is and know the weight it can carry. Just mentioning that I won opened up a fair few conversational doors for me!”
Did it help you gain confidence about working in the games industry?
“Yes! Although now that I’m in the industry, I’m suddenly a lot less confident! I’ve just finished my first week and I’m like, “Oh my God, I know nothing.” I’ve gone from a big fish in a small pond to tiny fish in a giant ocean.
At the same time, the contrast of now being in the industry has really helped. I suddenly have a much clearer idea of how to improve and what areas I need to improve in. Being in Digital Salmon has given me the perfect environment to do work, get paid to do it, and if I need help I’ll be on call with three other highly talented and professional people that can just help me.”
What have you learned from taking part?
“I’ve learned that it’s not just what you know, but that forming connections, being friendly and nailing interviews is just as important as having a good, high quality portfolio. A portfolio will get you in the door but ultimately it’s how well you fit in with the team itself. That will make them decide if they want you or not.
Participating in Search For A Star is excellent practice for getting to know people in the industry and chatting yourself up more confidently.”
Advice for students thinking of taking part in Search For A Star or d3t Rising Star
“Do it! Even if you don’t think you’re going to win, just the actual participating the project itself is great for your portfolio. It’s great fun and everyone else doing it is super nice, plus Dan and Andy are just brilliantly encouraging.
Once you have the idea and once the passion strikes you, it doesn’t take that much time at all. Most universities, depending on what course you’re on, will let you submit it as part of the course work, so you can do both at the same time.
I mean, it’s one of the best things you can put in your portfolio, plus the professional feedback means you can go back and improve it further. It’s such a wonderful couple of months for just dramatically improving whatever skills you want to improve.”
What’s Next for Sam?
“I’m currently part time employed at a local studio, Digital Salmon, and everyone there is Super brilliant. They were very excited to hear that I won Search for a Star!
I’m really excited where I am and I’m definitely going to continue doing visual effects.”
Huge thanks to Sam for speaking with us, and congratulations again on winning this year’s Search For A Star in Games VFX!
Search For A Star & d3t Rising Star are our annual gamedev challenges to help students create portfolio work to a professional brief, get industry feedback, and get noticed by games studios. You can learn more about the challenges here.
If you represent a games studio or university & would like to learn more about any of our activities, please contact Andy Driver at firstname.lastname@example.org