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Posted by Charles on May 29, 1999 at 01:40:32:

In Reply to: Re: The Business posted by Jon McClenahan on May 27, 1999 at 06:47:00:

Your comments are intriguing, John, and your story is interesting as well. Thanks for posting it and for sharing your experiences with us. I also checked out your Startoons web site.

The animation culture that we have in L.A. has been developing for many years. The studio system has always been an in-house production setup, whether we're preparing to ship overseas or animating here. There hasn't been a great impetus for artists to start anything independent until recently, although there have been several attempts at doing so in our industry's history with varying degrees of success. When positions at major studios are available, the driving force that leads to the establishment of independent production houses is not very strong.

American animation artists in cities other than Los Angeles have a different environment in which to operate. Your local animation industries are not what they are out here. There's a different climate and a different need for your product, many times stemming from what is happening in L.A.

For one thing, you don't have that constant executive presence to deal with like we do. Your relationships with them are different. They need distant studios so they can continue to strutt around out here pretending that they know what they are doing. Your studio in Chicago helps to keep their illusion alive and helps to strengthen their positions. It keeps them psuedo. By having a remote studio that they can contract work out to, they can continue the charade. Case in point, your conversation with the Dreamworks executive you mentioned in another posting of yours. Even though you explained to this person the secret of your productivity, he would have likely never have implemented it into his own production system. If it was anything that underscored his obsolete position, it would never have been utilized in L.A. even if it made sense and saved money. In reality, I wouldn't be surprised if he had no idea what you were talking about.

You seem to have some sort of attitude about L.A. animators as well, and I don't understand why. It's very obvious in the way we're portrayed on your web site and in some of your comments. One of the problems I've been trying to remedy is this unproductive, infantile tendency on the part of animation artists to needlessly bash each other. We are happy about the success of your studio and are encouraged by it. We want to know what is going on in other areas of the country and the world. It helps us in our efforts to find solutions to the unique situations we face. There's no reason for you and others to take this tone with us and it would be wise on your part not to underestimate us. You never know what the future may bring your way. The next visitor to your studio from L.A. may be an animation artist looking for someone to do overflow production.

We would like to know more about how you got started, the kind of work that you do, whether it's local, for studios out here, etc. What kind of equipment do you use? How long have you had your studio? What have you worked on? How many artists are on staff? What's the market like for animation in Chicago?

By the way... what a great town you work in.

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