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AN Video - Budgeting for a modern Hollywood Studio

Share your views on the state of the Animation Industry.

AN Video - Budgeting for a modern Hollywood Studio

Postby Charles » Mon Mar 04, 2013 1:45 am

Are you in Hollywood and thinking of starting an animation studio?

Watch this video for valuable advice. ;)

One take! 8-)

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Re: AN Video - Budgeting for a modern Hollywood Studio

Postby SNAKEBITE » Mon Mar 04, 2013 2:00 am

Damn, and this whole time I thought it was about the content...oh well, back to the drawing board...I mean...

hahahahaha good one, C!
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The Reality of The Studio...

Postby ChanceRaz » Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:12 am

You Have A World of Artists Backing You: UnitedWeBrand.org

That's pretty darn funny, Charles! :D

This is one of those things that is funny and sad because it's true. The studio situation is a real roller coaster, meaning there are a lot of ups and downs.

On the Pro's side: A full-time studio gig usually pays very well and allows for more education in animation production than any classroom, workshop, or lab in the world. In addition, many, if not all, of the major studios have unionized, so that paycheck also covers the required union fees and dues that grant the working artist access to outstanding health benefits, a customizable 401k pension package, and best of all, the confidence in knowing that if said studio tries to overplay its hand or take advantage of the artist, that artist has a union backing their rights - IF (and ONLY if) they take action and report it!

On the Con's side: How many of us take that action? How many artists are willing to stand up for themselves and set realistic, respectable limits and guidelines for their time, effort, and expertise? Most, if not all, studio gigs are temporary, so once the work runs out, it's Bye Bye, Birdie. Even on The Simpsons, the longest running animated production in world history, the artists are cyclically laid off at the end of every season (usually for at least 3 weeks - 3 months, though it can be much longer.) Another Pro worth mentioning is that a layoff means you were not fired, and are therefore eligible for Unemployment. Do you take it? You should!

But Wait...There's More: Once laid off, you still owe the union quarterly dues ($101 every 3 months or $404/year) so what you want to do during your layoff is simply call them and file for "Honorable Withdrawal". This stops your quarterly dues from being owed until you are rehired by a unionized studio. However, your dues will continue to accumulate and pile up until that time, at which point you will be sent a bill for the total dues you owe (usually not more than you can pay off in 1 or 2 payments.)

A Little More For You: Here is where things get complicated and stop working (I just learned this) - apparently, unionized animation artists DO receive residuals, but they are directly applied by the union to the artist's 401k retirement pension. In theory, this is great and we'll have access to all that extra money when we retire, right? Well...not so fast. In order to ever gain access to the 401k pension funds (residual or otherwise) an artist is required to have worked a minimum of 20 years at one or more unionized studios. Therefore, not only may the artist never receive their deserved residuals, but if the climate shifts at age 65 or 70 during their 19th year of union vesting and they suddenly find themselves out of work with nothing on the horizon...what then??

SO WHAT DOES THIS ALL BOIL DOWN TO?

The small subsets of working full-time studio artists are the vast minority in today's animation industry. With all the studios outsourcing to other countries, the local union artists fortunate enough to actually have full-time studio jobs simply cannot work enough hours to gain access to their own retirement plans. Many artists cannot even get into a studio, and therefore, cannot afford to join their union. Most artists work as freelancers, independents, or on personal crowdfunded projects. Fortunately, I have done (and am doing) both, and encourage you all to do the same!

SOLUTIONS:

If you work for a studio, create something for YOU and work it on the side - it'll keep you sane...trust me!! ;) Take your shot with crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, GoFundMe, etc. You can sign up to my CR Newsletter HERE and receive my personal crowdfunding podcast on ways to improve your campaigns. If your studio keeps you there past quitting time or is giving you more work than you can do in one day - GO HOME! Work a reasonable 8-hour shift then go home and do YOUR project if you still feel like drawing/working. SHOW them that you are not capable of doing that much work in one day and they'll give some of it to someone else - you WILL NOT be fired! Do these union stipulations bother or intrigue you? Let's start going to meetings, asking questions, and bringing this stuff up! The unions WISH we would!! Let's give them what they want and help them help US!!! =)

We have the power to make our careers anything we want them to be - I do, you do, and anyone who tells you otherwise is mistaken, afraid, or both. Be realistic, be fair, and be good to YOURSELF (or nobody else will - as my good friends Journey would say!)

Divided We Scrawl...United We Brand!
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Re: AN Video - Budgeting for a modern Hollywood Studio

Postby Sikanda » Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:53 am

Very funny. This makes me want to ask though about executives. I watched the film waking sleeping beauty and I feel it was in the middle when it came to katzenberg and Eisner. Yet I feel like there is more hate towards those people then anything else. Even I though I felt the film showed Katzenberg in a better light near the end. Can I ask what happened with that, or did I read that wrong? I was really young when that was happening so it would be nice to have clarified. Also weird side note my mom who nothing about this stuff knew who katzenberg was.
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Re: AN Video - Budgeting for a modern Hollywood Studio

Postby Charles » Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:56 am

I wouldn't call it hate against executives. It was more along the lines of extreme anger and frustration that still lingers especially when you consider the way they do things. I don't think it's as bad as it was in the past since there's many ways that artists can flourish nowadays without having to deal with them in the traditional sense.

Read what Chance posted and you'll get an idea of some of the issues that artists face in consideration of trying to make a long term career out of union studio employment.

It's very difficult to make the system work for artists in the long run since it's entirely predicated upon keeping union studio gigs going for as long as you can until you're fully vested.

An independent aspect to your career is something that everyone should consider developing even if you're in a union studio situation.
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Re: AN Video - Budgeting for a modern Hollywood Studio

Postby SNAKEBITE » Mon Mar 04, 2013 2:11 pm

I think the carrot being dangled in from of me is the number 1 reason why I started carving my own path many moons ago. I didn't really do it with a plan in the beginning, just a knee jerk reaction to the conditions of the climate. I experienced fellow artist like to dangle the carrot just as much if not more then the established unionized system...but man, you get residuals only if you can make it 20 years???? sounds crooked. Hey, the money you earned but just not yet?? wow.

if that doesn't motivate you to get your own economy together then...then...there's PLENTY of other stuff that will...But first you have to be self motivated before any exterior influence will move you.
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Re: AN Video - Budgeting for a modern Hollywood Studio

Postby Greg B » Mon Mar 04, 2013 5:42 pm

Glad to see Chance's in depth analysis of this situation. I'm writing an ebook on crowdfunding as the people I work with in that industry are doing phenomenally well and our medical approach is gaining ground helping people with bills and operations.

Maybe I can interview you for the book Chance?

Anyhow, Chance lays it out pretty thick and in detail. This is business. This is survival as a commercial artist and the data he gives is priceless.

It doesn't get more real deal than that.

He's saying what I've been saying from day one after finding AN back in the late 90s. I come from a heavy corporate background and seeing the artists in animation getting clobbered got my attention. Now that I've had the chance to meet many of you and study here on AN I see what the real problems are and it's nothing more than personal responsibility like in any area of life.

If you sit back and hope someone is going to rescue your ass you're in for a rude awakening. You have to be proactive or you will die. The public doesn't give a damn about animators. They have more important life threatening things to handle. Animators don't get involved in sex scandals or politics so they don't make the mainstream news. Let an animator get between Rihanna and Chris Brown or Kim Kardashian and we'll see Bugs Bunny on the evening news.

It's up to each animator to watch out for their own ass and take part in groups that are pro survival to their well being and the group. United you stand, divided you fall and the American animator is losing ground fast.

Only the strong will survive. I have a fan, a young man who does his own comic book web series. He sustains himself with just that. He's learning new marketing but he has a big voice and tens of thousands of followers. How does one young guy do it without corporate help?

Balls.

Get some.
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Re: AN Video - Budgeting for a modern Hollywood Studio

Postby Charles » Tue Mar 05, 2013 6:02 pm

That's more info about the Guild retirement system than I ever got from the Guild. Thanks for filling us in Chance.

Will you clarify please, that if you don't make it to 20 years, working the minimum number of hours per quarter at a Guild studio, if you're not fully vested, than what happens to the funds that are accrued in your retirement accounts?

Let's say you move into a different part of the country or go into a different line of business. What happens to the money that's in your union retirement?
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Re: AN Video - Budgeting for a modern Hollywood Studio

Postby Charles » Tue Mar 05, 2013 10:36 pm

So if an artist's residuals goes towards their retire plan and not to them directly... Does the same apply with writers and voice over actors? What good are residuals if they go into a plan that you have to work 20 years to get to and may never get to if you don't work the studio system for the majority of your career to qualify for the money that's been vested in your name in the first place?

Where does the uncollected pension funding go if an artist works 19 years and never gets it? The money that's already there... where does it go?
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Re: AN Video - Budgeting for a modern Hollywood Studio

Postby SNAKEBITE » Tue Mar 05, 2013 10:58 pm

And the Union manages this money until its considered yours?

This sounds god awful. More insult to injury. Yeah, you made money, but just not yet....and they set the precedent for how we get paid on the job???
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Re: AN Video - Budgeting for a modern Hollywood Studio

Postby Charles » Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:48 pm

This can't be right. There must be something missing from the equation. You can't possibly vest that much money over the course of many years and then not get it when you reach a certain age especially if it's earmarked for retirement. Whether you put the time in or not.

If that's the case, and I'm willing to give the union the benefit of the doubt that this is misquoted info in some way, but if it's true... There's a broader war to fight.
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Re: AN Video - Budgeting for a modern Hollywood Studio

Postby SNAKEBITE » Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:46 am

I agree. It couldn't possibly be right. Maybe I'm misunderstanding as well...cuz I would think more people would be up in arms....
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I Stand Corrected...

Postby ChanceRaz » Thu Mar 07, 2013 9:43 am

AMENDMENTS TO "THE REALITY OF THE STUDIO" POST (ABOVE)

Hello again, everyone!

Just wanted to clear up a few things that were inaccurate about my above post, "The Reality of The Studio". After this thread started getting some attention, Charles and I got curious about these 401(k) and residual stipulations, so I decided to go straight to the source. The below is information I copy/pasted from the email response I received from TAG (The Animation Guild, Local 839):

Correction #1 - The 401(k) is not the pension plan. The 401(k) is the plan where an employee (if working for an employer that has joined into the TAG 401(k) plan) can put in some of their own money, tax deferred, for a retirement account. This plan is not automatic, and is not funded by the employer.

Correction #2 - The "pension" plan itself is The Motion Picture Pension Plan. Depending upon when someone works in the industry, and for how long, they may be eligible for a pension. Up until December 26, 1999, 10 qualified years in the industry were needed to qualify for a pension. After that date, only 5 qualified years were needed. You can call the pension number: (818) 769-0007 to see if you are eligible for any pension. It has never taken 20 years to qualify for a pension.

As for residuals, however, they do go into The Motion Picture Pension Plan, not the 401(k) plan. An artist does not receive the (individual) residuals into their own pension for a project that was worked on, rather all the money is gathered and distributed to everyone's pension account.

Sorry for the confusion everyone - that'll learn me to "take the people's word for it". Always do your research! Haha Isn't it great, though, that we now have the accurate information straight from the horse's mouth? Through trial and error come enlightenment, resolution, and wisdom! :)

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