If you can dream it, you can do it. -Walt Disney
Quality is a great business plan. -John Lasseter
Let's make some funny pictures. -Tex Avery
I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. -Howard Zinn
When critics sit in judgment it is hard to tell where justice leaves off and vengeance begins. -Chuck Jones
And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? -Jesus
A man should never neglect his family for business. -Walt Disney
What's most important in animation is the emotions and the ideas being portrayed. -Ralph Bakshi
Once you have heard a strange audience burst into laughter at a film you directed, you realize what the word joy is all about. -Chuck Jones
Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water. -Buddhist Proverb
Share your views on the state of the Animation Industry.
And is there hope that this long standing trend will reverse itself?
It's an acknowledged fact voiced by many including the union itself that the animation community has no leverage. You see it everywhere when it comes to industry developments.
The effort to organize in a sector of entertainment as troubled as the VFX community, continues to languish in spite of ongoing efforts to do something about the condition of things. You see it in the everyday affairs in animation where the subject of the weakness of animation artists is almost completely ignored. From past and present experiences I've seen how our community will engage in a bitch fest when it comes to news and developments that underscore the problems artists face within the animation industry proper but virtually nothing is done about it. There's little to no action taken except in situations such as the recent picketing by VFX artists at the 2013 Academy Awards.
There's little to no solution oriented dialogue. Very few artists bother to get involved on the most basic levels in the biz when it comes to pro-activity even if it directly affects what they do.
Are the challenges that the animation community faces not as big a deal as they seem to be?
Is the lack of effort to realistically improve things within the studio side of things an indication that it's really not as bad as all that?
Even if that's the case, it's a widely accepted fact that collectively the animation community is the weakest aspect of all professionals in entertainment.
What if anything can be done to reverse this and position the collective animation community in a stronger situation altogether?
We need more reactionaries.
All kidding aside, I feel thats a big part of it. And thats why I engaged marius with that discussion.
I feel too many people get trapped in this idea that being proactive is joining failed systems that were designed to do exactly what they are doing. While anyone that has every joined the union is basically perpetuating its corruption. All to get the benefits. Sounds sad.
Its disgusting to me that an organization like the Union can take your money by monopoly and say you're the problem. You pay them for a service and they say you're the reason it isn't working.
And let me tell you, as a non union dues guy I have engaged the union more then paying members. SO I see that the union artists are not participating in their own system, but from the resistance and corruption I have experienced I see why they are not.
But I see the abuse from the basic mentality of what an artist is and has to grow up with, to how they are treated in the studio to how they are treated by the union they pay dues to...but I see how they treat each other too. The abused become the abusers...and reactionaries are looked at as a bad thing. But my reactions moved me in a direction of self determination. I made mistakes along the way, but I learned because of those mistakes.
People who try to act Zen and enlightened even before they learn anything just get bulldozed by the powers that be. I remember early on with AN I would hear about all these guys who were in the system supposedly making a difference...why? Because they thought being in the system was participating in helping it turn around...but all they became was part of the system. Their self hate was apparent by how they communicated and acted. They lived in fear and would turn on anyone that would shake their paradigm up.
I know I'm sounding like a broken record, but being reactionary or reactive to these toxic situations helped me understand the nature of true evolution.
No one wants to rock the boat. They think thats part of success. But you got to take chances. Hardly anyone speaks up and everyone wants to just get a long when their are so many people who are determined to be corrupt.
Well, it doesn't work that way. Conflict is needed. Reactions are needed. If it moves you to evolve that is. If all it turns into is a bitch fest then its no good. But if that passion moves one to find solutions then right on.
Picketing is bullshit. Protest by building your own systems.
We are all programed. We are taught certain words mean the opposite of what they mean. We're taught "thats the way its always been".
We all draw heros who react to situations but none of us see that as noble in real life. I find it ironic that the subject matter that fuels our content is not the content of our souls.
Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Act like major conglomerates, vertical and horizontal integration. Don't be a one trick pony. Relying exclusively on the union or the industry means they will have your **** in a vice. You are at the mercy of them. You can try to change it but you will need the support(or lack thereof) of many others. You can work in the industry, you can work outside of the industry you can make your own industry.
One sad reality I have learned in life is that you can depend on no one but yourself. Friends come and go. Even family isn't around forever. You can only depend on yourself and what you can do within your means to get things done. Sometimes groups come together and do great things but in this new era where the individual can really flourish why not take advantage of it.
If you check up on forbes articles, the richest people in america and you see where they made their wealth, while some of them are your basic nepotistic oil barons a lot were entrepreneurs. There is no reason why we can't create our own properties and push them out there.
A lot of people have forgotten what the point of animation and drawing is all about. Or at least one of the major points: entertaining. The biggest advantage that artists have over executives when working on their solo projects is that there are no executives. There is no one telling you to put in this or take out that. There is complete and total FREEDOM and no one seems to realize that. They think like studio systems instead of making new innovative things. A big studio cannot compete with the freedom an artist has to instantly tap into an audience. They have to worry about their stupid demographics and advertising money. Who ever is smart enough to realize this is going to be successful and a lot of people already are.
just because the community is weak doesn't mean you have to be. Exploit it like it exploits you. because they can, because you can.
Hey snakebite, I actually agree with you on the power of being reactive. I myself am reactive by nature. I have lived through experiences where my reactiveness dictated my actions... but as I get older, I find my actions need to be dictated by me. Upon a LOT of reflection I found my reactions were based around my expectations on things. I've chosen to not expect anything from any one human, because that would make me reactive. Instead I focus on setting up a structure, where human weakness can be minimized. I really do believe being in a ractive state is needed to find inside, what you feel. It helps one take a stance. My only point was I prefer not to PLAN in a reactive state.
I really do respect you and value all your insights, and I really meant nothing personal about what kind of state to be in. I try to simply follow feel what i feel, but do what I plan... and use my feelings, to help define my planning.
Sorry for the aside there, back to topic...
"Are the challenges that the animation community faces not as big a deal as they seem to be? "
I think this point actually was answered by snakebite's micro is the macro thing... I think the challenges in the animation community are in every industry presently. The world is going through a growth surge. It's maturing in behaviour. Our systems creak and grown to catch up, as does the human populace. To me... that seems like a big deal...
"Is the lack of effort to realistically improve things within the studio side of things an indication that it's really not as bad as all that?"
I wouldn't say the lack of effort to realistically improve things within the studio side of things is an indication that it's really not as bad as all that... more an indication that a lot of our leaders are lacking effort...
In an industry where there exist a LOT of humans in "leader" roles taking a lot of cash monies for the position... I find the lack of initiative... kinda surprising.
"What if anything can be done to reverse this and position the collective animation community in a stronger situation altogether?"
Right now, I see the humans in the animation industry as falling into two categories 1. People who want to make money 2. People who want to make animation.
Group 1 has WAY more representation in the industry, Group 2 has WAY more representation online... I would say focus on organizing group 2.
"Sometimes groups come together and do great things but in this new era where the individual can really flourish why not take advantage of it."
I agree. It's important to stand on your own legs before you can do anything else. After that... do you think maybe a few people standing on their own legs united might be a stronger position for the industry than a few people standing on their own legs seperated?
"If you check up on forbes articles, the richest people in america and you see where they made their wealth, while some of them are your basic nepotistic oil barons a lot were entrepreneurs. There is no reason why we can't create our own properties and push them out there."
If the goal is for an individual to be in forbes then that strategy sounds solid. Is that strategy best for the industry?... my gut says no.
"A lot of people have forgotten what the point of animation and drawing is all about. Or at least one of the major points: entertaining.
The biggest advantage that artists have over executives when working on their solo projects is that there are no executives. There is no one telling you to put in this or take out that. There is complete and total FREEDOM and no one seems to realize that."
Oh, I'm pretty sure that point is realized. I think you are taking for granted that ALL artists are entertaining. I'd have to say they ALL aren't. You're also neglecting to acknowledge the added value of working with people who KNOW how to do their jobs.
"They think like studio systems instead of making new innovative things."
Some of us like to organize like the big studio systems... but i think organization, belongs to the individual. Saying that's thinking like a big studio system, is mis-representative of what it actually is...and what it is... is prudent.
"A big studio cannot compete with the freedom an artist has to instantly tap into an audience."
Not sure if this statement is true. I think pretty much all big studios use multi-media outlets to tap their followers... am I misunderstanding?
"They have to worry about their stupid demographics and advertising money."
That just sounds like bad development execs, or CEO's... not sure one can blame that on the studios. It's just a faulty business-plan, fixable by an easy decision. I know a few smaller studios using crowd sourcing to generate revenue, to avoid worrying about those things. I'm sure bigger ones will catch up.
"Who ever is smart enough to realize this is going to be successful and a lot of people already are."
I'm not sure it's about being smart. I do wish all the power to anyone proactive in making things and sharing them to the masses, but being realistic... KIDS do what adults are doing on the web. I expect more from pro's than I do from amateurs.
"just because the community is weak doesn't mean you have to be."
In complete agreement.
"Exploit it like it exploits you. because they can, because you can."
Sounds reactive and dark. I'd have to pass on that advice.
I never took it like a personal attack or judgment. You have a good way of touching upon familiar topics. I respect your position and general agree with you. And I didn't mean for what I posted to be focused on a response to you. But still appreciate your views.
If you focus on your intent you can find a market. We're weak when we huddle together to find strength. If we haven't found strength in ourselves first then being in a group will only make us meat for the meat machine.
I like the crew I roll with. We hang out because we don't need each other. We collaborate because we are already inspired by each other.
I'm sure many HERE can relate. But unfortunately I see mostly passive aggressive behavior running the industry as a whole. Its a general statement because generally thats the statement.
Would there be a way to extropolate what works for you and your crew, to a bigger model? Maybe having built a platform of self-sufficiency would be one of the pre-requisites. Right now, all it takes to be in the union is a job... and you just have to know someone to have a job. Maybe earning the right to sit at the table is not such a bad idea... maybe an accomplishment, has more value than a job. It's also harder to fake. I'm just thinking out loud now, so please take this all with a grain of sand.
marius - by dissecting my response line by line i think you have misunderstood a lot of what i was saying
re: forbes that was an example after making the statement that the "individual" can be successful. More specifically artists can be just as successful if they are business minded as opposed to be strictly dependent on studios. It was backing my argument that there are alternatives to the broken studio system. I was not in any way suggesting that that model would work for the already immovable granfathered-in studio system way of doing things.
And to elaborate on the Freedom aspect. Big studios have to please THE LCD audience. Their goal is to make the most amount of money possible by pleasing all audiences or massive audiences in a specific demographic. With the internet an artist can be successful by tapping into a niche audience. Success of course being comparative, but one artist can sustain a model from a niche audience. Studios rarely invest in cult or niche audiences because they have tons of overhead and middle management and other things to worry about/pay for. Their giant infrastructure and system is severely limiting when it comes to creative output. Plus they play it safe all the time and "can't afford" to take risks because they have so many investors to please. Why do you think they are now implementing internet fringe trends into their mainstream products. It's been the same story for a long time. Find out what is "cool" and "hip" then water it down for the masses. Xerox copy what works. And even worse, just buy old established properties and rehash them until they are dead. Kind of the same way monsanto farms the same fake mutant sick corn over and over and over again until the soil is dead. They aren't planting anything new or different.
" I expect more from pro's than I do from amateurs."
You might, because you are an artist and might have higher standards, but the average person doesn't. Why is south park on tv? How did cheap cutout animation make it. Because for that show the writing is what is important and most people don't care about milt kahl drawings. Content is what is important, the "quality" of that content is subjective per the viewer and the audience. It's the same way major studios can pump millions of dollars into a flop and a no-budget 5 second video of a cat farting can get billions of views on youtube. The paradigm for entertainment has changed. Now internet memes are in mainstream entertainment. It's all changing and like Snakebite mentioned change can be either good or bad for you, but if you "evolve" or "adapt" you can sustain.
I suppose I'm not sure what what definition of successful we are using... if it's "fiscal" success, I would have to agree.
If success is based off accomplishment though, I'd have to disagree.
To better understand, how do you define success? And secondly, do you see a differentiation between the individual's success, and the success of the community around that individual? Are those the same thing, or can they sometimes be at odds?
As for the topic of studios, I simply think big studios are being sailed with error, not that they are wrong in existing. It seems to me the crew working on big studio ships all want money, so the ship keeps it's focus in similar directions.
"You might, because you are an artist and might have higher standards, but the average person doesn't."
The average person shouldn't be burdened with that responsibility. That's ours, the artists. If we know better, we have to do better. Cutting corners cause one can is not a strong pattern to perpetuate. It leaves the industry weaker, in my humble opinion.
"Big studios have to please THE LCD audience. Their goal is to make the most amount of money possible by pleasing all audiences or massive audiences in a specific demographic."
This is just one of many possible working models. Big studios HAVE to make a profit. That's a fair thing for a big studio to want. Their goal should be to balance creation with making a profit. They TRIED their best to go the easy way, and it failed... Yes, some big studios are guilty of STILL executing this style of creation production, but only because artists are making it all possible. Right now the studio is just a ship, and it's the hands on deck that are steering it. Blaming the ship, for a crew's mistakes seems like misplaced focus.
My point is, I 100% agree that everyone should use the market and present situations to empower themselves... I merely point out that once those that are empowered get empowered, what then is the plan... party as usual? or does that generation get down to the business of straightening things out... Whatever floats anyone's boat, I'm on board with. I like fun just like anyone else, but that doesn't detract from the importance of looking past short term success to focus on the bigger picture. After individual success.. what then is the paradigm?
Do the big studios die out? So no more disney, dreamworks, cartoon network, nickelodeon?... does that seem likely...?
I feel like putting your time and space into things you believe in and achieving milestones in those systems is what I consider earning your spot at the table. As you put it.
If that means you believe in the union and want to sit at that table then thats up to the individual. When they become monopolies then to me it's poopoo. By unionizing an industry you make something exclusive that should be inclusive.
But I see the cliques the industry has so I get why people want that. And most importantly I see why the business side of things want that. They pretend that the union is working on the behalf of the artists who have signed on, but they only work for the interest of someone else. By their actions, not words.
Charles believes the Union can be evolved, like you, Marius. I don't. I think the people can evolve and build new systems and working dynamics that has nothing to do with how this Union is designed. You could call it Unity or whatever variation of a word. But if it's fundamentally different then whats going on that means the people were able to overcome a larger animal. Themselves. And then the larger corporate animal that owns the current Union and the industry in which it monopolizes.
Entertainment money has more influence then government in these regards.
And this is where most would say I'm digressing and getting too far ahead of myself. And to that I would say, POO.
People need to consider the big picture. I don't eat at tables with vampires. I eat with warriors and the builders because thats who I am too. I don't keep my enemies closer, they are close enough.
This is my personal philosophy so when asked if it can be applied to a bigger picture I would say most def YES. If people are actually open to having real conversations about what they speak. If not we will reposition ourselves to be weak again.
But hey, I'm not gonna poopoo on anyone that wants to prove me wrong. I crave the day but until then I will sit strong in my position. More so then ever. I wasted enough time thinking otherwise and embrace examples like you have set with crowdfunding success. Thats where I'm going next. Doing it modestly. Creating robustly!
In 15 years in animation, 20 years total doing art professionally now. HALF of my life has gone into this game. I get it. Thats why I'm excited about embracing my brand more then ever before.
There's a reason why you have to put your mask on first when a plane is going down. Can't help anyone when you're gasping for life.
I'm trying to wrap my head around mindset, so I'm gonna try write out my understanding of what the artist next evolution level is. Basically:
1. Create/Produce Art (self-financed)
2. Exhibit art (self-financed)
3. Generate interest in art (self-financed)
4. Build up a following to art. (self-financed)
5. Build up relationship to fanbase of art by constantly creating. (self-financed)
6. Have fan-base pick up fiscal responsibility for the creation of art (crowd financed)
7. Remove yourself from circulation of the masses and live off of direct energy exchanges with the fanbase
Is this right?... I'm really asking to try to better understand in a goals and objectives kind of way. I don't think it's right or wrong at this point, just trying to see what the road map is. Any insights?
Step 1-7 feel like the artist's journey to mastery.
If that list seems accurate, could I propose a possible continuation strategy that would, in my opinion, be win/win to EVERY single party related to the animation field. If 1-7 was the journey to master, let's say 8-? is the journey of the master.
8. Expand your overview of art creation. Now create art that is too much work for one artist to realistically create. Or that would take too much time. Or that is beyond the abilities of the creator for execution, but not for inception. Create a piece of art that requires a small crew. Use crowd funding to pay for it's creation. Keep account of the creation pipeline, as well as the production pipeline. Pay close attention to the details, and honor the crowd that funded you by executing this to the BEST of your abilities, cause you set the price. (fanbase funded)
9. Upon successful completion, design an art creation that requires a LARGE crew. Create detailed production schedules. Create ALL the pre-production assets utilizing the small crew from the previous step. Fund the pre-production utilizing crowd-source revenue (fanbase funded)
This next step is where the studio comes in.
10. Studio's switch from single artist pitches, to master pitches, complete with proven production pipeline standards, as well as locked pre-production assets. They get with the property proposal a built in market audience. Creative stays locked, and studio shoulders fiscal obligations for production and distribution, as well as execution of those categories. Artist master retains complete control of creative decisions. Upon successful completion, the studio and the artist are at crossroads. They can continue on the journey, or part ways. If they part all profits should be split 50/50 from their joint ventures. All things created BY the studio belong to the studio, but intellectual rights remain with the artist. If they continue, any and all profits should be used to FIRST pay for the continuation of the property, and what remains can then be split EVENLY between the studio and the artist. I'd suggest letting the studio handle what they do with their money, but it'd be swell if the artist split their 50% stake evenly with all the creative talent in the credits of their piece. (Studio funded)
I think there's a place in here for the union, but I'll come up with that proposal after I find all the holes in this one
I can dig it. Mastery of self is the main goal with me.
But brother, you can totally find a place for the union. But why? I guess this is where we speak different languages on how we define what the Union stands for...like the Justice system, once you learn that police, courts and prisons are traded municipal bounds on the stock market then you realize there's no real justice...and getting into that system only perpetuates it. Regardless of your ideals.
If your ideals are contrary to how the system is run, don't try to change it, cuz it will only change you...instead, build a new one that makes that one obsolete.
Ok first hole.. why will the studio's do that?
Glad ya asked, here's where the union comes in. All things that achieve level 9 get qualified for acceptance to the union. The union then represents the workforce of the property. The studio's can only hire union labor, and union labor can only work on union represented property.
This is attractive to artist's because it provides jobs to pay for existence in a creator designed environment with the potential for growth, while they incubate and do steps 1-7.
This is attractive to unions because it gives it additional revenue, and strength, as well as gives the members skin in the game, so to speak, so might increase activity.
This is attractive to independent creators who value big project planning cause it gives them a next step that helps advance them, the studios, the union, their friends, and their colleagues.
This is attractive to studios because it takes away all the risk. They can make a calculated profit and plan accordingly, as well as focus on their duties in the process. IT should remove loss, or at the least minimize it.
This is only bad for one thing, that I can see so far... and that's greed...
truth is every artist can and should go off and start their own studio. I'm all for that. This is just a theory of how the ecosystem we live in might be able to be structured to provide stability on that journey.
please help me find the holes in the theory.
"But brother, you can totally find a place for the union. But why?"
I'm hoping my last post answered this, but just in case the answer is because it is stronger for the structure of the industry. Three legs provide greater stability than two...
You got to prove to me that the union doesn't make you one legged first.(well, you don't, but for your point to register to me it does)
I don't look at joining the union as a prize. If the success of my company meant joining a union...well, it wouldn't motivate me one bit. It would actually get me to consider a new career path.
Its like working your whole life to be thrown in an old folks home ran by people who just took your money and treated you like poop...damn, no thank you
Establish models you want to live by and watch the need for unions fade.
also, I guess i plan on the assumption, that the union,like all things, really is just a system. Systems want to work. It's in their nature. I STRONGLY suspect with a bit o' use, the ol' girl will kick back into step in no time. OR it will collapse on the side of the road defeated. And then what do we have in place for a back-up plan?... Seems, ANY back-up plan would be MUCH harder to execute, without our Union. We need to embrace it, to evolve. But it NEEDS to embrace us... to EVOLVE. Here's where faith comes in... and you just do what you think is best... it's in ALL of our best interests, to look out for each other... least in my head.
I really don't think we defined union. To me, this is pretty much it's spirit. But with masters with wisdom. I'm no master. Just a cat trying to plot his way through the journey. What I know from my observation of what i've had to classify as "could-a been" masters is when you get through, you don't run off care free. That leaves a void. You train up your replacement, and THEN you go.
WE need a system, to fill all the voids from the "could'a beens"...
To me a union is a collective, of humans of experience and wisdom, who apply all their resources to progress forward into time. That's it. It's present state, is it's present state. That's the A pose. I know with a clear B pose, the breakdown will be easy to find. With enough humans sharing the work, all the in-betweens and clean-up will be no problem...(animation analogy just slipped out, my apologies)