The Coming Empire

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Posted by Charles on March 28, 1999 at 23:55:07:

The problems that we face in our industry, whether it's the executive management problem so many artists are angry about, or the creative stagnation that is being addressed, none of them happened overnight. They evolved over a long period of time and have become entrenched.

These problems won't be solved overnight either. It will take time to implement solutions. All of our people from across our community need to involve themselves. Our leaders have to rise and meet the challenge and if they don't, then we should get some new leaders.

We need to think long term. We need ingenuity, an enterprising spirit and cooperation within our community. We need to be unified. We need to build a common ground between Union and non-union artists.

We need to educate ourselves and understand the business of our business. We need to keep this dialogue going and take the giant leap towards rebuilding our industry.

American animation is at a crossroads. We can sit back, ignore reality and pretend that everything is going to be okay, or we can start to take matters into our own hands and work towards the change that we all realize has to happen if our industry is going to survive and prosper.

It's alright to be angry and it's alright to voice a strong opinion. There's nothing wrong in saying that you're sick and tired of the way things are. But there is something wrong if you criticize and then do nothing, or expect other people to fight your battles, then pop up your head from the sand in time to take advantage of the new environment.

Lot's of people are motivated into doing something about this, so join them. We have an opportunity to take advantage of the change that is occuring in our industry. The changes are very conducive for independent projects. If we come together as a community and an industry and start thinking in new and enterprising ways, we can certainly do more for ourselves and our collective futures than we can by watching this troubled system we are dealing with continue to wither and fail us.

We have the opportunity to start laying the foundation for a future empire. One in which we can take our art to new levels while we enjoy greater creative freedom, innovation and security. An empire in which animation artists exercise much greater control over our product and destinies. This won't happen unless we take that all important first step.

We can open a dailogue with executives, as some have suggested, and try to weed out the few good ones from the bad. I'm sure that animation executives would likely enter into a discussion as a token gesture so that they can continue to pretend that they know what they are talking about, get their photos in the trades, be indentified as industry experts and maintain the status quo while feigning to implement change. Or, we can take matters into our own hands and get some new things going for our long term good.

I believe the answer is in options. Currently, we have none. All we have is an environment that we've helped to create which offers most of us tenuous, uninspired, unsatisfying employment in animation factories while national and international animation communities are making films. How many animation artists from Los Angeles are involved in independent production? How many of our films are entered into competition? How many of our projects are nominated for an Academy Award?

Why can't we have American anime? Why can't we have at least some independent projects starting up and coming to fruition? Why can't we have independent studios? Why not an industry with enough independent projects going on to create an alternative employment option to the cookie cutter system we deal with now?

There are independent studios in Cleveland, Chicago, Indianapolis, Texas, New York and many of them were involved in handling overflow production from L.A. Now they are getting entire productions and looking to hire animation artists from our community. Why can't we do the same? We should have been going in this direction long ago.

The small start ups of today may be the great studios of tomorrow. I see no reason at all why we can't begin to plant the seeds of our future empire right now. No one on earth is better suited to compete in this new era other than our own community. What are we doing about it?

A good place for an empire to start is in the Empire Room of the Sportsmen's Lodge. See you on Thursday.

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