Re: How to be a Successful Independent

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Posted by Dave on April 05, 1999 at 02:32:37:

In Reply to: How to be a Successful Independent posted by Bob on April 04, 1999 at 19:40:39:

: Friends:

: Bill Plympton has been able to make a living while producing his own films. Why not follow his example? You can read his advice at:


While I applaud Mr. Plymtons successs Iím more interested in solutions for current studios. There is more than one or two ways to be a succeful independant. I worked freelance taking work in my home from around the world for 15 years. It is possible to remain a studio animator and still work on larger projects. Owning your own equipment (testing system , paper punch , disc). The problem for most studios is that dealing with those people denotes a loss of control. Without exploring how use these independants they dismiss the option. In terms of cost it is totally advantages for a studio to use these people but they donít. The saved studio space and lower costs generally seems to be unimportant and they opt to do run off work in other larger studios, forcing independants to deal with them. It makes no sense at all since the money they give the subcontracted animation staff in those secondarys amounts to less than half (ore more ) than the majors pay them.

Here is an example. At one time I took work from a large studio freelance. I agreed to oversee 4 or five other animators and assistance. Since I was working from my home I was able to split the costs this way: Animators got 250 per ft, Key cleanup got 150 per ft, Inbetweeners got 100 dollars per foot. This included that pan scenes were free footage to offset and heavy scenes that were done. Not only did everyone make money but we were able to give all of them a bonus by splitting up the remainder of the extra money left over at the end. Now here is breakdown of how the run off studios spent their money on the same feature: 80 per foot for animators and 50 perfoot for Cleanup.

It is pretty obvious that the structure that supports studios is damn expensive. So why do studios insist on inhouse work ? Well , it seems to be this, they cut their costs by hiring just a few experienced people that can train or redraw the work of the more plentiful inexperienced low cost animators. This in their mind is so they can keep costs down . This isnít a slam against new animators as it is great training and good work experience. Feature is more than a work experience in this case, it is a training school. Not something I expected to be doing as I thought I was to animate but oh what the heck. A production manager at the time looked at me and explained they wouldnít be hiring any more experienced people because they could get two trainees fo the same cost despite the fact that they were having the experienced ones rework most of that animation. Hmmm. Interesting. Costs are not always what they seem.

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