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Asifa fired.

Share your views on the state of the Animation Industry.

Asifa fired.

Postby JDC » Wed Aug 25, 2010 9:25 am

Interesting, to say the least...

http://animationmagazine.net/article/11909


BREAKING: Disney, Pixar Withdraw From Annie Awards



Wednesday, August 25, 2010
By: Thomas J. McLean

Disney and Pixar have parted ways with the Annie Awards, with the studios saying they will no longer sponsor or submit for the event, reports Variety.

Judging is the main issue behind the split, according to a statement from Disney-Pixar president Ed Catmull, who told the trade paper:

“After more than a year of discussions with the ASIFA board, we have regretfully decided to withdraw from the organization and no longer participate in the annual Annie Awards. We believe there is an issue with the way the Annies are judged, and have been seeking a mutually agreeable solution with the board. Although some initial steps have been taken, the board informed us that no further changes would be made to address our concerns.”

Disney has been a sponsor of the awards, run by ASIFA-Hollywood, since their inception in 1972. What impact Disney’s refusal to participate will have on the Annie Awards remains to be seen. The studio has the longest and most prestigious animation pedigree in the business today. The prestige and credibility of the awards would be highly questionable without the participation or inclusion of Disney and Pixar projects.

According to , the key issue was judging. In previous years, the ASIFA membership was open to anyone who paid the membership fee and therefore could bias the results. Such charges reached a peak after the 2009 Annie Award results saw DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda sweep the awards and shut out Pixar’s WALL-E. However, such criticisms don’t explain Disney and Pixar’s success at the Annies, having won seven best animated feature Annies in the past 12 years compared to two wins for DreamWorks.

As a result of such concerns, ASIFA-Hollywood did restrict voting in the upcoming edition of awards to members who qualified as animation professionals. Variety reports that Catmull was not satisfied and had instead wanted an advisory panel of executives from each studio to gather and recommend rule changes to ASIFA.

While Disney and Pixar will not provide any institutional support for the Annies, its employees are free to continue to participate and submit work on their own as they see fit, according to an email Catmull sent to the employees.

That could allow the Annies to continue with Disney and PIxar films represented, ASIFA-Hollywood chief Antran Manoogian told Variety. “The Annies are about honoring the best in animation, and we will continue to do so,” he told the trade. “The awards are set up in such a way that the nominating committee can put a nominee on the ballot even though it hasn't been formally submitted.”
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Re: Asifa fired.

Postby paburrows » Wed Aug 25, 2010 10:04 am

So Disney is behind the changes.
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Re: Asifa fired.

Postby Glen Moyes » Wed Aug 25, 2010 11:58 am

I wonder what Disney/Pixar would have thought would have been a satisfactory solution to the judging process. An advisory panel of executives is a good process for finding a solution to the problem, and if you've ever heard Ed talk he is all about process and people, not ideas. But I do still wonder what Disney would have thought would have been a satisfactory solution to the problem. They were in discussions with ASIFA for a year, and I'm sure Disney came up with their own solutions to the judging process.

Or did Disney even have any solutions in mind? Did Disney simply not like any of the ideas that came forward? If you think about it, if their main problem with the judging process was that it was prone to bias because...well, Disney themselves didn't win last time?

Anyway, it's almost impossible to remove bias out of a judging process. If it's completely open to everybody, even non-ASIFA members, it's really easy to work the system. With members-only it's still easy to work the system. With industry-only professionals it's exclusive and now everyone has a bias for their own work. So maybe saying that you can only vote for other people's projects, and then weighting the votes based on the number of employees in each studio so you don't have the scenario where a studio with 75% industry employment wouldn't have a chance at winning? I think that could work. It's not inclusive however, but if studios don't trust other studios to play fair, then I can't think of another way to do it.

If this was largely Ed's decision to leave, then my guess would be that Disney/Pixar left the Annie Awards because of the process ASIFA used to come up with their decisions. I've heard Ed talk about how the process needs to have trust, which would explain why he wanted to have an executive panel from other studios to submit ideas.

So, my guess is that Disney doesn't trust ASIFA to come up with good decisions, and they don't trust other studios to play fair. So would the satisfactory solution to judging for the Annie awards be one that prevents any and all kinds of shenanigans? Could Ed, with his pro-trust philosophy, ever support such a judging process?

Last time this was discussed here it seemed like our beef with ASIFA's decision was that it appeared to be elitist, but I'm afraid it looks like a no-win situation. Can you put a stop to shenanigans and still have open judging?

My own personal philosophy is to find a 3rd better solution if there's a disagreement. So what does the AN community think would have been a better solution?
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Re: Asifa fired.

Postby Glen Moyes » Wed Aug 25, 2010 12:52 pm

Oh, and I just wanted to clarify that by "a 3rd better solution" I mean something that is actually a better solution, not a compromise.
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Re: Asifa fired.

Postby Charles » Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:24 pm

Here's an email that came in within the hour from Antran Manoogian, President of ASIFA-Hollywood.

............

Dear ASIFA-Hollywood Member,

As you may have heard, Disney Animation has made a decision not to participate as a co-sponsor of the Annie Awards this year. ASIFA-Hollywood remains committed to maintaining a nomination and voting system that represents all aspects of the art of animation. We would like to remind everyone in the animation community that, while studio entries are important to us, artists from any studio may also independently submit their own qualifying work and the work of their peers.

ASIFA-Hollywood remains steadfast in its determination to honor excellence in animation and represent the best interests of its membership. The Annie Awards will continue the tradition of animation professionals honoring their own.

Antran Manoogian
President, ASIFA-Hollywood
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Re: Asifa fired.

Postby MrFun » Wed Aug 25, 2010 4:41 pm

Walt Disney would probably whack you guys upside the head.

Think the Old Man would care about this nonsense? I can almost hear him laughing now.
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Re: Asifa fired.

Postby EAllen » Wed Aug 25, 2010 6:52 pm

Bwahahaha, Mr. Fun!

Only Disney? I thought there was bigger opposition, myself! Like, a mini-coalition of studios opposed to Awards vetting . . .

Again, I saw changes coming to the way ASIFA members are involved with the Awards . . . but not with the way the Studios are!

Fascinating.
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Re: Asifa fired.

Postby Greg B » Thu Aug 26, 2010 5:29 am

I spent the past 2-3 weeks steeped in animation industry venues and such. I've been having a ball. Then I read this story first thing in the morning.

This will be an interesting thing to keep an eye on.
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Re: Asifa fired.

Postby paburrows » Thu Aug 26, 2010 7:54 am

Found this in the New York Times:

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/25/walt-disney-studios-withdraws-from-animation-guild/

Walt Disney Studios Withdraws From Animation Group
By BROOKS BARNES
A running squabble over a cartoon awards banquet boiled over on Tuesday when Walt Disney Studios said it would withdraw from the group that hands out trophies for animation achievement.

For years Disney has privately groused about the Annie Awards, presented by the Hollywood chapter of the International Animated Film Society. Among Disney’s complaints: that the guild allows anyone to buy a membership (in contrast to most awards-bestowing organizations) and that rival DreamWorks Animation has too much power because it gives all of its employees complimentary membership to the guild.

The trade newspaper Variety, which was first to report the split, noted that Disney’s Pixar entries have won 6 of the last 10 top Annie prizes. But Disney started to agitate more aggressively for changes in 2009 after DreamWorks Animation’s “Kung Fu Panda” won a raft of Annies and Pixar’s “Wall-E” won nothing. “Wall-E” went on to win the Academy Award for animation that year.

“We believe there is an issue with the way the Annies are judged, and have been seeking a mutually agreeable solution with the board,” Ed Catmull, the president of Disney Animation and Pixar Animation, said in a statement. “Although some initial steps have been taken, the board informed us that no further changes would be made to address our concerns.”

Antran Manoogian, the president of the guild, told Variety, “The Annies are about honoring the best in animation, and we will continue to do so.”
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Re: Asifa fired.

Postby Charles » Thu Aug 26, 2010 11:50 am

Details are coming out that I never knew before.

I suspected that the Kung Fu Panda sweep of the Annies in 2009 was at the heart of this. And although Wall-E won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, I feel that KFP was a more entertaining movie by far. If it wasn't for the fact that it won virtually all the categories it was in, I wouldn't have thought anything of it.

So we know now that Dreamworks gives its employees complimentary membership to ASIFA-Hollywood. Which means money for the organization. It also means that every one of those Dreamworks employees has a right to vote for the Annies this year because they're working professionals in the animation industry.

So how does the change in the voting procedures change things in general? How will you keep Dreamworks employees from voting for the movies they worked on?

The system behind voting for the Annies is flawed and I don't see the changes that ASIFA is making as doing anything much to resolve it. In fact, it may make things worse. Everyone I've talked to, in particular working professionals, feel that limiting the voting just to them is not the way to go. That, plus the numerous animation industry lifetime achievement awards that ASIFA has voted for themselves, has compromised my confidence in the organization's judgement. My experiences with ASIFA-Hollywood through AN over the past 10 years or so, especially since 2004, have been very disappointing and that hasn't helped much at all in restoring the faith that I once had. I wish it were otherwise, I'm sorry to say it, but that's how I feel.

It's too bad that the credibility of the Annie Awards has come into question. Maybe the solution is for Disney Pixar to stack the voting by doing the same thing that Dreamworks has done. Or maybe the solution is to restrict animation professionals from voting and allow only non-professionals to vote. Like a people's choice award.

Good luck to all, I wish everyone well, Antran in particular.
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Re: Asifa fired.

Postby EAllen » Thu Aug 26, 2010 7:06 pm

Another personal note on this, is that I never joined ASIFA for the privilege to vote. I feel very privileged already (not to mention educated) to be in regular contact with animation industry pros, who can't give me a certificate or somesuch to validate my standing (indeed, the only thing I have, besides my non-studio work, are my course materials from my Brooks Institute days to demonstrate the extent of my experience with animation and VFX) but they have enough respect for me to keep me informed on matters that often never make it to the ears of others, who aren't in the immediate vicinity of the matter.

Judging from everything we've seen thus far, it seems obvious to restrict the professionals (especially if they belong to the studio that produced one of the nominated films, and/or worked on the nominated film) to voting only in specialized categories like character or background design, and to somehow be prevented through electronic means from voting for themselves. And this can be done without compromising their identities . . . I think they should be able to retain their anonymity.

Personally, I do feel that professionals who are allowed to vote should not be allowed, using the same electronic process detailed above, to stack the deck in either their on their team's favor by voting their own film "Best Picture". It keeps things fair. There may not be an immediate way around this, and ASIFA may even have to come up a strategy which might involve (God forbid, actually) limiting the number of professionals from the studio that has a Best Pic nominated film from voting in key categories!

And hopefully, ASIFA can come up with a fair alternative to even that.

A very complicated, sensitive matter--nevertheless my belief is that there will be a fair adjustment to the process which would ultimately include more members of the animation community in the voting mix while keeping things fair and satisfying everyone.
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Re: Asifa fired.

Postby Charles » Thu Aug 26, 2010 10:22 pm

That's what makes you a better man than I EAllen. I don't share your optimism. I don't have full faith and confidence in ASIFA-Hollywood's board. I've sat in on a meeting concerning the Annies back last March and I saw the organization in action. It had problems in my opinion. One of them was a very formalized way of conducting the meeting. Also, I feel they made some poor decisions from the business I saw being conducted. I had every intention of sitting in on future meetings, but a few days after I decided it was a waste of time.

The thing to do is take the issue to the general membership. Instead, they established a new policy without telling us beforehand what really lead up to this decision. That's not the way to do it and this kind of adminstrative style is too pervasive in animation. Especially when you have studios, groups, what have you, managed by people who aren't animation artists.

Where's the balanced perspective in this? You don't get it when you don't solicit it from the entire organization.

Also, many people especially within ASIFA-Hollywood know how educated you are in animation, and of all the people who should be voting for the Annies you should certainly be included. But you're excluded I suppose because you're not working in production. That's not an equitable policy.
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Re: Asifa fired.

Postby SNAKEBITE » Thu Aug 26, 2010 11:51 pm

This whole award thing is silly anyways..I say, watch all the awards burn! Everyone wins! If you ACTUALLY produce something, and finish it, present it to people...you win!
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Re: Asifa fired.

Postby Greg B » Fri Aug 27, 2010 1:52 pm

Nothin' like seeing AN back to what it's supposed to be, the hubub of the animation community!
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Re: Asifa fired.

Postby EAllen » Fri Aug 27, 2010 7:58 pm

Thanks, Charles. Coming from you, especially, your approval of my animation knowledge makes me feel all over again like the first time I met you!

It's not just me, either. It's the numerous other students, industry supporters, financiers et al. who no longer have the ability to vote on these things. But enough of me boo-hooing this, because to tell ya the truth I saw this coming, and that's what I keep coming back to.

Ever since the first time I received Awards screeners from ASIFA, five years ago, I felt that the voting privilege would not last, and that ultimately something would be done about it. Last year was the first time I actually voted in any significant categories (I voted a little in '08--and I actually don't recall myself casting any votes in '07 or '06--that should tell you, right there, how much the process really mattered to me at the time) and all the conversations about animation I had with you, Charles, and Bite and Gary and Micah Wright and Mike Uslan and Alan and Alex Stevens, scores of other animation professionals up to that point, especially when you consider when I had to contact some of these guys for animation articles I wrote for Suite101.com, which even predates the start of my activity with AN, going all the way back to high school (some of my animation articles, to my great amazement, can still be found using a quick Google search using my name + "suite 101" as keywords)--all those conversations played a part in the selections that I made in the categories I was allowed to vote in. If you summon all of that experience during the process of making your selections during awards voting, it's hard to see how your pick or vote could be deemed as "unfair" or challenged as illegitimate simply because your particular works did not originate in a situation deemed "appropriate" by the Industry--but hey, still I'm okay with whatever ASIFA decides in the matter.

And I hope the animation students will in time be okay with whatever course ASIFA charts as well, even considering your assessment of ASIFA's management practices. Again, if I took issue with half the things ASIFA decided over the years, I would have quit volunteering or paying the member dues years ago.

Again, I agree with Bite. Bite should know more than anyone how much of a bitch it is to create, and the mere act of finishing a design or getting a sequence locked and in the can is a reason enough for celebration. The satisfaction of being allowed to vote in an animation organization is vastly outweighed by the euphoria that accompanies the act of accomplishing a project on time and to the satisfaction of the firm or the client.

Greg B. said it best. This, AN, is truly at the epicenter of the animation industry. Likely among the greatest privileges of my short lifetime is being allowed to participate on this forum with so many top artists, and as long as I am allowed to be a part of AN in whatever capacity (even allowing for the near-certainty of me growing professionally to the point when no one will be able to challenge the validity of my standing in the industry), I will remain blissfully unaffected by whatever eligibility requirements ASIFA deems upon the membership regarding Awards participation.
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Re: Asifa fired.

Postby paburrows » Sat Aug 28, 2010 9:12 am

Well what about this, most of us go out and try to see a lot of the movies and TV shows that are produced. What if AN had their own award event? We could do it small scale as one of the AN night where we celebrate artists/movies/shows in the community who we feel have made an important comtribution?
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Re: Asifa fired.

Postby EAllen » Sat Aug 28, 2010 10:36 am

That would be a fine idea paburrows, except there is already a perception that awards shows, since there's so damn many of them, are fruitless and frivolous affairs. ;)


This is said even of the Annies from time to time.
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Re: Asifa fired.

Postby Glen Moyes » Sat Aug 28, 2010 11:05 am

It's important to think about what the purpose of award shows are. It's not quite the same as a championships for sports. Award are usually for marketing purposes (our movie won 15 awards, you should go watch it), but it's also to help really good works that didn't have a high marketing budget to be recognized.
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Re: Asifa fired.

Postby EAllen » Sat Aug 28, 2010 7:30 pm

That's kind of what saddens me a bit, Glen.

Decades before I existed on this Earth, it is my understanding that a film that deserved to be honored was honored, and that the purpose of the honor was to recognize the quality of a film, regardless if the honor resulted in increased box office or public sentiment.

Now, the significance of winning an award, tainted as it has been by the unethical behavior of an exclusive group of people responsible for nominating these films in key categories, has disintegrated in stature to a mere tool used for purposes of marketing, and sometimes not even that.

It has been said that a key reason Warners didn't brand Dark Knight DVD covers with the typical "nominated for X Academy Awards including X category" had to do with an Academy snub in a key category, Best Picture, which contributed in large part to the Academy's decision to expand the category to ten nominees. Also, marketing at Warners felt it a bit disingenuous to put a constant reminder on the cover, to the Batman fanbase, that the film which was perceived at one point during that awards season as a lock for a Best Pic nod, was (IMHO unfairly, but who cares now) deprived of that distinction. So these days, all you see of that film's Awards recognition on its various home video covers are the main characters, and of course a brief mention of Ledger's Award win for his Joker on the back of the cover.

Maybe Mr. Fun can chime in on a time when winning even a Globe, not to mention an Oscar, was a huge thing to the recipient, a career and a life changer back when there was more class in the industry!
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Re: Asifa fired.

Postby SNAKEBITE » Sun Aug 29, 2010 9:35 pm

AnimationNation is behind the movement of acknowledging creators. Look at our platform. If you create and are proactive, participating on our board then we promote, acknowledge and celebrate you. Besides introducing yourself there really isn't any other rule to be seen on our site..
You win if you do you. Ya know?..thats my disclaimer to back what Im about to say...


I for one am over award shows.A long time ago..cuz thats what it is. A show. I know a lot of people will probably be too blinded by happy talk trends to see that what I am saying is not negative at all. What I am saying is that we have a problem with understanding how divisive this attitude is. I.M. not so H.O....lol, there's a funny there, double meaning, hahahaha...anyways, I digress.

This award s*** is part of the gate keeper jerk fest.

I think a lot of people have this sickness of trying to impress their oppressors.

I read all these articles and laugh. Its funny. Childish..maybe I'm being harsh. Maybe I could use my words better, but really, after awhile its quite insulting. Condescending as hell...and rather boring too.

I know its nice to feel good..and the spoils are sweet especially when you work so hard.

But all this award doodoo poopoo is more examples on how flawed the system is and the people who "set the standards" don't mean quite so much. With all due respect. Apply accordingly please.

Award shows bug me first off, THEN drama around awards shows make me puke in my mouth a little. lol, in the 3 stooges, don't take myself too seriously, sort of way.

I guess if the majority of the people making these decisions actually created something besides mouth farts then maybe they would dig where I'm coming from.

Why don't they show their support of the arts by being more inclusive, use their resources to actually promote the creators and get the hell out of the way..no one wants lip service when trying to check out cool art and stories. Just get out of the way. thats how you can help. You're supposed there to support the medium, well then, support it. Its not a sport.

Its not a sport.

Everyone wins when someone creates.

its not a sport

Everyone is touched when someone creates.

its not a sport

Everyone wins when someone creates

Why not just make a weekend of celebrating new films. Let these films' creative teams talk and share. Use your connections to get media down there to interview creators....and get out of the way.


man, sometimes crazy town is just too crazy. I'm glad we're taking it back.
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