AGORA'S MISSION

A few years ago, not long after the VFX crisis of 2013, we were reflecting on the state of the animation and VFX industry. We questioned the need for moving abroad to find work, daily commutes in traffic, brutal crunches and the 40-hour work week itself. Would it be possible to allow artists to work from wherever they wanted, whenever they wanted, the number of hours they wanted per week at a price they judge fair for their services? At first, this sounded like a utopia, but the more we thought about it the more obvious it became that it was a goal worth pursuing.

Freelancing remotely obviously isn't new. Having experience as freelancers and as supervisors of freelancers, we knew the challenges of remote workers from both the artist side and the studio side. We knew it could be improved for both. But what type of online structure would be required to manage a large group of freelancers servicing multiple studios simultaneously? How could we guarantee the quality of the work delivered? And perhaps most importantly, why would artists even be interested to be part of such a collective, rather than providing their services to studios directly?

We can't pretend to have found good answers to all of those questions, but nonetheless they motivated us to take action. We gathered a small group of talented artists and made a few calls. One thing led to another and agora.studio was born. Having now had the privilege to work with dozens of studios and collaborate with inspiring artists on a daily basis, we know for a fact that this wasn't a crazy idea after all.

Here are some of the questions we've been most frequently asked over time by artists interested to join agora.studio. If you have any specific questions not listed here, please contact us at info@agora.studio

What are the benefits specific to freelancers of being part of Agora's community?

The obvious answer is Agora brings the work to you directly. You can focus your energy on your creative work instead of searching for your next job. We handle contract and salary negotiations, non-disclosure agreements, wire transfers, liability insurance, etc. We coordinate production for efficiency, sometimes even educating studios for best practices and workflow improvements. We provide supervision and technical support to our teams, making sure no one feels left alone to deliver on client expectations. We provide production tools and software when needed. And last but not least, we pay artists much faster than most studios! Typically within 48 hours of contract completion, compared to 30 days or more for most studios.

World map

What type of artists is Agora looking for?

The most important thing is the quality of execution. It doesn't matter if you are fresh out of school or an industry veteran. Autonomy, reliability and proactivity in communications are also essential qualities when working remotely. Honesty is extremely important to us as trust is at the core of our business. Lastly, we want to collaborate with passionate artists that enjoy their work and know how to have fun. We like to face daily challenges of production with cheerfulness. If we can't have fun doing what we do, why do it in the first place?

How can I be part of Agora's pool of talent?

The first step is to contact us at info@agora.studio. Send us your showreel and tell us about your past experience, current situation and future aspirations. If we feel Agora might be a good fit for you, we'll send you a simple survey to provide us with basic information such as availabilities and salary expectations. That's it.

How much time do I need to provide?

This is up to you, some artists work full time for Agora, others provide just a few hours periodically. This flexibility of hours is essential for Agora's business, we couldn't rely only on artists working full-time or part-time.

How much should I ask for my services?

Whatever you judge fair for your services, based on your expertise, skills and professional experience. Based on our current pool of talent, salary expectations vary between 15$ and 75$ per hour.

How will I get paid for my work?

We agree early on with every freelancer on a time estimate for each task. Freelancers then calculate their own hours and send us an invoice at the end of each project. We pay for every hour of work, even when it surpasses the initial estimates we agreed upon. We simply trust artists to be honest when calculating their hours, as they trust us to pay for their services afterwards.

We prefer direct bank wire transfer, but if requested, we can also use services such as paypal or good old checks in the mail. We usually send one payment at the end of each contract, but for longer projects multiple payments can be scheduled periodically.

If I work with Agora, can I work for other clients as well?

Of course! Agora does not request exclusivity from its freelancers. If you are already working freelance for various clients or currently employed by a studio, you can obviously continue to do so outside of Agora's framework.

What if I don't own the software license required for the work?

Most freelancers own their software licenses, but if needed, we will cover the costs of specific software purchases or rental. The amount is then simply added to the freelancer's invoice.

How do we interact during production?

At first, we will discuss a new project over emails and skype. Once production starts, we will use Slack for all communication. This is free, simple, helps us stay organized in teams, and reduces over-communication.

How does the review process work?

Quick feedback is often provided directly via slack, but formal reviews are generally managed through Shotgun. This allows well-organized and secure transfers of information, while providing great revision tools to supervisors and clients. Specific playlists are created to provide visibility only to those concerned with each round of feedback.

Will I be interacting with the client directly?

It depends on Agora's involvement on each project. Some are completely supervised and managed by Agora, which results in limited communication between freelancers and clients. Other projects are mostly driven by studios, the work being directly supervised by their own staff. In which case, direct communication between the studio and freelancer occurs much more frequently, while Agora's team still keeps an eye on production and provides support when needed.

What are the security measures in place?

Confidentiality and security are very important to us. A non-disclosure agreement is signed between each freelancer and Agora before every project. During production, assets are stored and shared through our own secure servers and reviews happen within a password-protected Shotgun account. After production, content cannot be shared publicly without specific approval by our clients. Agora has full liability insurance, protecting itself and freelancers from a legal procedure in case of leaked content. The personal information provided by freelancers is also protected in our database and cannot be shared with studios or other freelancers.

What if I don't deliver on the client's expectations?

Fortunately, this doesn't happen often thanks to our rigorous casting process. But when it did happen, we were able to react rapidly by replacing the artist and starting over. This never compromised the work provided to the client, and we also paid the first artist for every hour they worked.

What does the future hold for Agora?

To summarize our ambition, we aspire to provide a viable solution to artists eager to work remotely on various projects with flexible schedules. Building a reliable ecosystem of artists, we aim to offer them an opportunity to work and collaborate on various projects and invest in content creation to generate great material that will in turn promote our freelancing services.

We also provide education services to schools and studios through workshops and masterclasses. This is a great opportunity for us to share our passion, to help artists to improve their skills and to meet new talent worldwide.

It's been a great journey so far. We take pride in the success of Agora and are constantly working to improve our services to artists, studios and schools around the world.