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.
14 posts • Page 1 of 1
I had to roll on the floor laughing with this article. I must have a dozen friends mixed up in this nonsense waiting for money for super mega hit movies they've created or appeared in or something. Some have been waiting to get paid for decades. It's so stupid that's why I get into trouble. Agents come to me talking that 'backend money' bullshit and I immediately tell them to start packin' from now on for just asking me some stupid s*** like that. If I don't get paid, we get busy. You can't depend on the courts cause the Hollywood money people have too many judges in their pockets. It's gangster s*** with suits on. It's gone on for decades and the U.S. courts and law enforcement let this slide. I can't tell you how many times I've met some movie or tv star who was more broke than me. It's pathetic.
On the harsh side, you have to understand the most greedy, brutal sociopaths are attracted to big money deals like in Hollywood and other entertainment industries. Men and women who have murdered untold numbers of people to rob them or shut them up and lean on the weak. They're bullies with bullets. So execs have to deal with these slime bags and when it comes to the slimebags vs you, the slimebags win. Do you do dope? Then don't complain. Are you illegally gambling and doing all sorts of little criminal stuff while in the industry? Then shut up. You're adding to the problem.
From now on, if a studio wants your stuff tell them to pay you handsome up front or F off. If they can't pay you then they never intended to or they don't have their biz together. No more chumps.
Depend on Brother Greg Boone for posting up with some of the most pertinent topics on AN throughout its history.
Indeed, I am with you all the way on that. It's foolish to work for Hollywood on a lick and a promise.
This takes me back to the last major video game franchise I developed. By this time I had established myself in the field and had pressed for royalties on the game which I got. Then when their lawyer heard about it he was very upset. They did not want to set a precedent in the US video game industry of giving back end points to the artist who designs the characters and creates the concept from scratch.
So here's what I was told...
"You know that you'll never see those royalties Charles. Why not take more money up front."
I knew they were right. The standard in Hollywood as it is in many businesses nowadays but perhaps more chronic, is that it's normal and to be expected that you will not get your money on the back end. Unless you are very powerful you'll wind up with nothing. It's the norm in Hollywood to be cheated in this way unless as I've said, you have power and are willing to spend considerable amounts of time and resources in a legal battle.
So I made out pretty darn good by getting paid up front, in advance of delivering the work, plus the rights to publish my work and also the ownership of the original art.
As a result of the deal I was the highest paid character designer in the American video game industry at that time, or so I was told.
If you're working for free, or under a promise of back end compensation, that's just where they'll give it to you.
Get smart and wise up artists. Don't fall for their BS. Too much going on in other areas such as crowd funded projects that the creators OWN.
Develop your audience and let them fund you.
I hear you Charles!
Like you, I've been all over the map with companies in comics, film, video games. Video games nowadays is the source of absurd amounts of money. Get in on a good game and you can retire in a few years.
In the recording industry artists got ripped off left and right and then Hip Hop came along. I was there from Day One and saw what happened. Hip Hop is the biggest change in how money is done in music. The old days were run by mobsters. They owned the studios, radio stations stores. You didn't play game with them and you didn't get your brand out. When Hip Hop came along the mobsters and recording industry didn't realize that they were dealing with a new set of creatives. We were kids who grew up fighting for our lives in the streets. Many had a body or two by the time they got out of high school. The West Indian folks had gotten into music and they did not play any bullshit games. The cops, mobsters, execs, didn't know how to handle them as they would go to studios and board rooms and bust caps in asses. Back then the Posses had it out for injustice and bullets were flying everywhere. For the first time Black people were in control of their music, publishing, and distribution. Hip Hop has been popular now for almost 40 years because of it and it's still going strong.
That's American business for you. You gotta show some back or get a beat down. Crooks in business do what they do because there's a gun to their head. In comics I've met the most dangerous men I've ever seen. They don't fight up though. They used to have to hold me back from busting up offices and kicking ass left and right. In retrospect they should have let me. Force is the issue here. Creatives attract criminals and sociopaths by default. Gotta be on your toes or else.
We could learn a lesson from the Hip Hop culture as creatives. Sometimes the pen might be mightier than the sword but a gun has a louder statement.
Remember, we're in America. This ain't no theme park.
Case in point, this film "I Want My Name Back" is a detailed look at the legendary Rap group "The Sugar Hill Gang" whose "Rapper's Delight" is the #1 selling Rap song of all time. They got screwed by their managers in ways that are phenomenal. It shows how the mob and managers work together to rip off artists. It's been this way for decades. If you have Facebook you can see their fan page about it.
Here's video from the link Greg provided. Take the time to watch this. It's a must for any artist working anywhere or aspiring to achieve something with their work in today's environment. These people learned some big lessons the hard way and they're sharing that knowledge, wisdom and experience with us.
Everything we've been talking about on AN for going on 15 years now is embodied in their words...
See what I mean?
What happened to the Sugar Hill Gang is like if someone came along and stole Walt Disney's "Steam Boat Willie" or Elvis' "Hound Dog".
They're just one band of creatives that got screwed and there's no telling how many more there are out there. I got a chance to talk to some of the biggest recording execs of all time who are now wayyyy out of the industry due to this kind of criminal stuff. What they told me was astonishing. Mirrored what many filmmakers said about strongarms, gangsters, dirty cops, money laundering, intelligence agency intervention, major dope dealing and of course extortion and murder. All common place because one music hit can mean tens of millions of dollars. Same with movies.
Big money attracts sociopaths. It's that simple. We didn't know how to detect sociopathy before but the characteristics have been fine tuned to the point that we have them on the run. Humanity's two biggest adversaries have been malaria and socipathy.
This has been going on for a very long time. It's not something recent by any means. If there has been a re-direction in contemporary times it's because of the Internet and the ability of artists to own their own content while marketing it themselves.
A historical case in point is Walt Disney. You mentioned "Steamboat Willie" Greg. Actually he got screwed with Oswald the Rabbit prior to that and when he created "Plane Crazy" which was the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, he was cheated by his distributor. This is the mid 1920s, around 1927 for Plane Crazy.
That's one reason why he formed Buena Vista Distribution so he could control this aspect of his operations and avoid being swindled by Hollywood.
Look at how the Beatles were cheated out of millions and millions of dollars. Their manager Brian Epstein made terrible deals for them. Everyone thinks the guy was a genius but in fact he tried to dump the group before they made it big. Afterwards he was hailed as a brilliant manager when in fact he got them into ridiculous contracts where others made much more money than what the group should have gotten.
Know who learned from this? The Rolling Stones. They signed better contracts and even though they were selling fewer records than the Beatles, they made more money.
The early rock and roll groups from the 1950s got the shaft. Blues artists, jazz artists, you name it. The rock group Queen in the 1970s had some of the top selling albums in the world and they were living in cheap little flats in London while their manager was driving around in a Rolls Royce. That's when they woke up.
In this day and age there's less reason for artists to find themselves in this kind of position. There's a new system that's emerging which artist can utilize with much greater control. Plus we have decades of info we can share.
There's no reason to be victimized any longer.
Great thread. I was just talking with my lady about this as we went for a walk tonight.
It kinda sucks being apart of the generation that got screwed with a lot. A big part of me envies the artists who won't even relate because of all the great avenues they have now.
What we were talking about 15 years ago is all coming true and I'm very happy artists have new opportunities to not have to deal with the people we had to deal with.
I was even in the new Image Comics documentary, The Image Revolution (which was a great doc and I'm very honored to be part of that documentation) but there were big things missing in all the happy talk.Real issues that could shed light on stuff and be apart of artists learning about the mistakes. Mostly artists screwing other artists. The abused becoming the abusers.
But it looks like at least in this documentary the young artists are appreciating their insight because their works speak for themselves. Which it should. And so should their wisdom and experience.
Thanks Greg for the great post and thanks Charles for always being at the forefront of sharing your truth and experience even when it puts in you in the middle of the s*** storm.
I know its appreciated even if some important people won't acknowledge your contributions and platforms!
That's about the size of it and could be another thread in itself. Calling out the backstabbers and traitors. They always get a beat down in the end.
If you watched the Image Revolution you'd see that a lot of them get a movie made about them in their honor....
I learned a lot on how the "option for movie" game works. From day one that I got into comics reps and studios would option my stuff. I didn't know the game back then but got schooled in the early 2000s. When I found out what had been going on I got pissed but I realized that now I was more ready to negotiate the next time it happens. You should see the reps run for the hills when I tell them what the terms are. Their game is blown. You weed out the crooks this way.
I've got some top folks looking at my comics again. Especially my new one "Space Fool". They jumped on that and I hadn't even done the comic, just layouts and dialogue. I'm pushing for it to be a video game instead as video games can make more money than film with less people around biting off stuff. Several pals who've worked on huge video games said they would look into it. The trick is getting paid for the option and also being on the development team. The profits are better than you would get from film or music. We'll see.
Indeed and agreed. Option with a paid gig is best! I positioned myself multiple times for that. My biggest problem was not factoring in the artist/team/partners back stabbing throwing you under the bus factor...man, still stings a little just writing it...lol,learned that lesson an embarassing amount of times... feeling better these days though. Been focusing on my intent for years now....ya know, takes 20 years to be an overnight success....
In my case the two scams pulled were using my properties to get into the door at the studios, then tell the studios they couldn't get my stuff if they didn't look at or take on other stuff the reps had and were pushing. One big animation company got busted doing this because they didn't know I knew the production team. They got ratted out but higher deals and bribes were underway and we couldn't fight it.
Another scam was to acquire my stuff, sit on it. Take what was attractive and popular and tear it apart piece by piece and add it to other properties that sucked. I could give you a whole list of movies with my fight scenes in them. People made careers off of my fight scenes.
Race was another factor. Didn't know so many execs, artists, production people were so racist. Actually Facebook exposed many of them over the past few years. People I'd worked with whose jobs I saved ended up working at the big studios and blocked me, back talked me and several got fired for being not only racist assholes but for general unethical behavior and liabilities.
You never know what twisted minds you run into. Problem is they recruit from the human race and far too often your worst enemies will be people from your own race, religion, ethnic group. Those people you deal with hand to hand in a parking lot.
Here's some of the lessons I've learned over the years...
Be careful / mindful / cautious of your professional colleagues especially if you work within the studio system in the LA. You can of course build great and lasting relationships but the industry does not have your personal best interests at heart. The industry is not limited to executives. Artists can be just as notorious as anyone else in this biz. Look at the Animation Guild as an example.
When you develop solid, positive relationships then maintain them in mutually positive and solid ways.
If you agree to work for free then don't complain when you don't get paid.
The studio scene is a very different world than the creator driven scene. The work for hire job oriented person does not necessarily relate to the artist out there developing an Independent Economy for themselves. There's a cultural gap that exists in animation in this area especially on the part of studio artists. A difference in values, priorities and perspectives.
If you want to get involved in the politics of the animation business you're much better off if you can make your statement through creative success. More people in the biz will listen to you if you can back it up with creative accomplishments.
Don't waste your time on negativity. Don't let yourself be distracted from your real focus, which should be your creative productivity.
Stay on your art and stick with it. Especially in today's environment. Strive for personal excellence and stay on top of what you're doing creatively. That's the most important thing you can do for yourself.
Create content and keep creating content.
This is some of what I've learned.
PS. Attach a value to what you do and be sure you're appropriately compensated when you're on the path of developing content for others.
14 posts • Page 1 of 1