We had the good fortune of connecting with Shir Baron and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shir, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Taking risks played a huge role in my career path. Studying abroad, investing a lot of time and money without truly knowing what will happen after I graduate, was probably the biggest risk I’ve ever taken. I’d rather know I tried and failed than wonder “what if…” I’ve always thought of myself as a lucky person, but luck really just comes down to achieving something against all odds, or tilting the odds in your favor. I believe we each make our own luck by trying time and time again.
I took a lot of risks to reach where I am today. And while ambition, hard work and luck played a big role in getting where I am, I would have never been able to do it on my own. The support of my loved ones kept me strong through the hard times. The support of people that heard my story and chose to believed in me, allowed me to get through my studies financially. The support of my mentor helped me gain the skills I needed. The collaborative effort of my classmates, allowed us all to better ourselves and be a stronger group. While some observe school or even the workplace as a competitive environment, I strive to make it a collaborative one. Friends are a much stronger network than “connections.” Reaching out to people you look up to or following up with recruiters is of course essential, but your friends are the ones who will vouch for you when their company is looking to hire.
You must take risks to achieve great things. Of course, I believe you do need a certain amount of caution and awareness. Things might not turn out the way you hope, but if you dream big and work hard, you find the way to make the nearly impossible, possible.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am an animator at DreamWorks, working on feature films. The studio has hired me almost straight out of college and has nurtured me through the start of my career. I learned so much from the amazing talent at the studio.
I have a deep love for traveling, gaining new experiences, meeting new people and getting to know different cultures. Before pursuing a career in animation I backpacked in Far-East Asia and fell in love with it. In an attempt to figure out a way in which I could keep traveling, but also earn money and save up for my studies, I applied to a flight attendant position which I ended up working at for two years. These experiences have a great influence on my stories and I often pull from them to express new ideas. My background and own culture influences my work as well. I am Israeli, born and raised, secular jew of Moroccan roots. Family has great value where I come from and I’d see my extended family on a weekly basis. It’s a warm culture with amazing food 🙂
I’m also a huge fan of children books and am often drawn to heartwarming, whimsical and naive esthetics. The world of animation to me is a tool of communication that has the power to speak to everyone from anywhere and inspire the young generation, as it inspired me throughout my life.
As part of my thesis in college I created a short film called “The Train to Qinling.” It’s based on an experience of mine on a 24 hour train ride in China, where I thought I wasn’t able to communicate with anyone since we spoke different languages. However, the people around me did everything they could to communicate with me in other ways. They shared their food, taught me how to fold heart-shaped origami out of 1 yuan bills and insisted I participate in their card games. One of the women there even tried to ask for my age. She sat with me for a whole hour until I finally realized what she was trying to communicate. From a train I entered surrounded by strangers I couldn’t speak to, I left feeling I’ve made new friends. My film deals with the subject of communication, and how there are other ways to communicate in times when words do not suffice.
Getting to where I am today was a huge challenge and it took me years to achieve this goal. It took persistence, dedication, ambition, a lot of hard work mixed with a little luck and some Israeli “chutzpah.” It was far from easy but if there is one thing I can pass on is – you can’t do it alone! I am where I am today because of an immense amount of support from so many people in my life. Some helped me financially, some supported me emotionally, and some mentored me professionally. Just as those people gave so much of themselves to help me succeed and grow, I find it important to pay it forward and support others on their journey. We’re in this together!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live in Glendale right next to Kenneth village which is a block filled with little cafe’s and shops. It’s nothing big but it’s right by my house and the perfect place to get a morning coffee. It’s also a walking distance from Brand park which is a small park with 2 hour hiking trails. You can see all of Glendale from the top! Griffith observatory is also a beautiful place to spend a few hours, and if you go you can’t miss Samuel Oschin Planetarium. You can also continue from there to a long few hour hike to the Hollywood sign (There are so many hiking spots around LA!).
Of course there are the parks – Universal studios and Disneyland, which would require a day each.
Santa Monica is beautiful as well and has great cafe’s and restaurants. Santa Monica pier is great but I’d definitely try to go mid-week (way too packed on the weekends). Renting a bike and biking along the beach is a really fun and refreshing activity for the day. For the dog lovers out there – Century City mall in Santa Monica is a VERY pet friendly open mall. I love going there with my pup!
If you’re looking for a dog friendly beach, Rosie’s dog beach is an off-leash dog beach in Long Beach.
Little Tokyo is a fun area with a lot of little shops and honestly, the BEST food! I highly recommend spending an evening/half day there.
If you like thrifting, Magnolia blvd in Burbank is filled with thrift shops and pop ups.
When it comes to food, here are some of my favorites:
Din Tai Fung – might be an obvious one, but as someone who didn’t grow up here I only learned about this awesome Michelin star dim sum chain when I moved to LA. I usually go to the one in the Americana. Make sure to be added to the waiting list right away and then you can walk around the Americana while you’re waiting to be called. The Galleria mall is right there as well if you want to make it a shopping day.
I’ve tried a bunch of ramen places and so far near home I really like R101.
I personally prefer vegan or at least veggie ramen, and I think my favorite in LA so far is the Spicy Sesame Vegan Ramen in Daikokuya, Little Tokyo. There is always a line, but it’s well worth it.
Porto’s is well known for their great Cuban pastries. They have a big variety so if you’re looking to have a picnic or just share some pastries with friends I’d recommend this place.
If you’d prefer a sweet little place to sit at for a morning coffee I highly recommend Pascal on Beverly. It’s an Israeli/French bakery. They have some great breakfast options (try the shakshuka!) as well as awesome pastries (my favorite is the almond croissant).
If you’re feeling Mexican – I recommend Don Cuco in Burbank Center. The atmosphere is super fun there, and the food is delicious.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have so many people to thank. My family that supported me every step of the way. My partner that had my back even when it meant being far away for awhile. Some very special people that supported me financially. My school, Ringling College of Art and Design, that went out of the way to help me attend for four years. The faculty that were so much more than just teachers to us, and to all my friends that had my back no matter what.
And a very special thanks to Liron Topaz who is a dear friend of mine that mentored me and helped me start off my career. It started with advice about choosing classes in college, and was followed by work critiques, long videos and animation tips. This eventually evolved into close friendship.
He has an amazing heart and he just keeps on giving without expecting anything more than a thank you in return. He is one of the most inspiring people I’ve met and I strive to be like him and to pay forward all the help he gave me.
Other: The Rookies (can see thesis film process work here): https://www.therookies.co/entries/7374