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The Animation Guild and... Learned Complacency?

Share your views on the state of the Animation Industry.

The Animation Guild and... Learned Complacency?

Postby Charles » Thu Dec 23, 2010 1:37 pm


Every once in a while there's a topic on the Guild's forum that has some relevance to making things better for the animation community at large.

This particular topic was written and posted by Steve Kaplan, the Guild's Organizer, who's also a registered member of AN and who periodically posts a comment or two here on the forums.

This link will take you to the commentary by Steve Kaplan.

I'm going to have some visual fun with my own commentary, as I tinker with the tools of the new forum, so kindly indulge me as I supplement my words with graphics.

The Guild's attention and energy for expanding is currently focused on the Visual Effects aspect of our industry. Seems there's quite a bit of discussion in that area concerning inequitable working conditions and situations, etc, and the Guild is trying to do something about it by riding to the rescue.

Complacency7.jpg (17.12 KiB) Viewed 224 times

In Steve's article, "Learned Complacency" is described as being "born from the notion that there is nothing that can be done about the state of the industry. Since the artist elected to join in the workforce, there is an implied contractual acceptance of the pitfalls that come with it."

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Also... "This argument is generally evoked from those who have accepted the short comings of the industry. They state that since they've done the leg work of finding ways to live with those detractions, everyone else can as well."

Well, from my experience within the animation industry, I've heard that line of reasoning from Guild members much more than I ever heard it from independents.

Maybe the solution, in whole or in part, for the artists who are genuinely suffering from working in the VFX industry would be to sign a union rep card and join the Guild. The problem I see here though, is that accusations of learned complacency fall short when it comes to the Guild, as I believe they lead the way in complacency, learned or not.

From their election turnout last month to the damage that's been done by its executive board in the person of both the retiring president, the business rep, and probably the executive board as well, the Guild had a great ally in AN and they wound up shooting themselves in the feet when it comes to building support within their own community.

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No worries though, I've done that enough times in my life to know what it's about. Still, when it comes to learned complacency, The Animation Guild could teach the class.

Complacency in anything is not a good thing, and when it comes to a union, its effects can be especially detrimental.

Unions should be the epitomy of positive pro-activity. Unfortunately, I just don't see that with this particular union. I just can't get enthusiastic about the Guild anymore. They did a fine job of teaching me how to be complacent in my own right. When it comes to the Guild, I fully understand the futility of trying.

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But I'm not giving up hope. I like Bob Foster, the new president, and I think he realizes more than the last president, just what artists in animation face when it comes to certain issues that affect us all eventually. I think he's a good man and I hope he can help do something about complacency in the Guild. As much as I like him though, I'm not holding my breath.

Regardless, we can always look to the promise of a new day if we look within ourselves first to solve the problems we may face, as opposed to expecting others to do it for us.

Respectfully submitted.

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Daily Z

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Re: The Animation Guild and... Learned Complacency?

Postby Charles » Sun Dec 26, 2010 7:35 pm

DayLateDollarShort.jpg (4.49 KiB) Viewed 185 times

File this under a day late and a dollar short.

It's ironic that on the heels of my commentary above, the Guild's blog reported an FX studio in Santa Monica, California called CafeFX, announced they were closing down.

Add to that the Guild's organizer Steve Kaplan's expressed anger on their blog over the issue of the ILM Pixar conspiracy to keep artists salaries in check, as I reported on AN a few days ago...


Judging from a comment posted in the Guild's blog about this, seems that artists from ILM asked the Guild for help a year ago, as they were not being represented well by their own local, and it appears that the Guild pretty much waved off their request.

But now that the matter's been settled by the US Justice Departent, now the Guild is going to call their lawyer to do something about it.

Now that the FX industry is imploding from competitive underbidding and outsourced production, now they're trying to unionize the studios.

And they're not going to try and break into the video game sector cuz it's 20 years too late and my guess is artists in that area are doing okay for the most part.

I wish The Animation Guild could see itself through the eyes of most people in the biz. If they could step outside of themselves and look at their organization through the perspective of most of the people that have to deal with them, I think it would help. I think it would help them to take a look at themselves and see how very poorly they're perceived.

I lost most remaining faith in them last year when they took AN's link off their blog because of what I witnessed at a meeting I attended in 2008. Add to that the general complacency there is within and without the Guild, I can say that all we've ever gotten from them was a free party at Christmas. And when I think about what I personally spent on years of annual AN meetings to foster unity and goodwill, when it came to the Guild I should've known better. If I learned complacency sooner I'm sure I wouldn't have wasted my time and resources that way.

That's why I feel as many others do, that the best solution for dealing with problems and challenges that will inevitably arise in the future, is in an independent organization. The nature of the union itself, with its competing locals, red tape and general apathy towards the concerns of professional artists, is more of an impediment than a solution in many instances.

The market will dictate what will happen in animation, not the Guild.

The Guild can't fix problems in animation cuz they can't fix the problems within itself.

They're a benefits management company, and not the answer to the hurdles that artists are facing in this business. I wish they were, I wish it were otherwise, but they're not. I wish they could do something about things like the ILM Pixar conspiracy before it got out of hand but they won't, or keep the struggling FX studios going but they can't.

When it comes down to it, I don't believe they care. Maybe a few people in the Guild do, but by and large they don't care.

If they did, they'd work towards keeping April 1 going. If they did, they'd work towards unity. If they did they wouldn't have shut AN out just because of what I reported.

Sorry to say it, but my complacency towards them has pretty much caught up with everyone else's. Writing about the Guild is more of an amusement than thinking that something positive will actually come of it.

But who knows. Stranger things have happened.

Good luck to all, and better luck in 2011.

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