Re: Animation budgets

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Posted by Jon McClenahan on May 30, 1999 at 16:00:10:

In Reply to: Animation budgets posted by Charles on May 29, 1999 at 22:14:19:

I'll be careful what I say here, because any friend of Mitchell's is a friend of mine. But I need to make a few comments where appropriate, for the edification of the readers.

: I'm with you all the way.

: A few additional items to include - overhead, accounting costs, equipment and supplies and... oh, yes! How could I forget! Let's not neglect the cost of our non-creative administrative nannies and their support staff. The most expensive items on the check list. And Brian... make sure that you place them above the line.

: I've been intrigued by a web site I've seen recently that belongs to a domestic animation studio not here in L.A., in which L.A. animation artists are portrayed as an elitist horse sitting atop a mound of money. In the next panel, we're portrayed as being incredibley unproductive. All this under the heading of "The Animation Revolution". Amazing.

I believe you are making the mistake that I think the whole industry would do well to avoid; namely, necessarily associating the MPSC with the artists. They ARE separable. There IS life outside the union.

: Tell you what, fellow animation comrades in other parts of our glorious country. I have a proposal for you. Why don't we swap. Why don't you get rid of some of your best artists, set up some nice, spacious, plush executive offices in your studios, then take a few of our resident managerial geniuses for a trial run. You know... the same ones that farm out work to you.

At this point, I have to say, WHY would we ever want to do that?! We're fully aware of the advantage we enjoy being away from the politics. Wanna join us? We're an open shop. Union artists can work here too, but not under a union contract. We're trying to stay in business. You begin to answer some of your own questions in the following section:

:Get them into your studios and give them complete control over every aspect of your business and your productions. Including whether or not you stay employed. Go ahead and give it a try. We'll see how your production costs are maintained.

See, managerial decisions about cost control are what keep ANY business running. I think the managers would be happy to see self-motivated, cost-efficient artists working under them. Just like OUR managers. Any business NEEDS management, as well as the product or service it is rendering. A gang of artists is just that. There's a primal right-brain, left-brain conflict there, but you need both.

:Don't worry if things go south. We'll be here to take care of the production that you can't handle, and we'll do it at a lower price than you. Then we'll blame you, our revolutionary comrade artists, for making animation so expensive in your part of our glorious nation, laugh at you and put pictures on this web site of you as a lazy jack ass. Then we'll start giving you advice about how to fix your problems. Of course, that advice will be to include working hand in hand with your "suit brothers" in making the changes necessary for reviving your studios, because we want to keep getting the work.

Ouch! I'm sensing hostility here - hot, artistic passion. It's OK, because it's what is to be expected of any and all real artists. The main thing is, you're way better than the current "system" allows you to be. Your union is the one who put out the ads with horse-boy attacking my studio. But StarToons is not the problem.

I do want to apologize, however, for appearing to have judged anyone without having walked a mile in their moccasins. I keep on good terms with the "Chicago mob" among you, and they are no less talented than they were when they worked here in the Windy City. I have been on the fringe of the LA scene for 19 years now. I never want to be a part of it. Sounds like many of you would like to get out, too. I am not trying to rub your face in the dirty laundry you've hung out in this forum, but I AM suggesting there are alternative solutions. Animation without management is NOT a solution. Trust me.

: Your observations are right on, Brian. Your encouraging advice is right on, too. There are animation artists out here doing just what you suggest.

Brian knows. He's running his own business. It's tough. He knows that I know it too. We help each other a lot, sending each other work when we can. And the union never comes between us.

But if you WANT to see OUR take on a possible solution, check it out below. And when you get to a horse with a beret, please try to see it as LA union studio vs. Chicago independent studio, not artists or individuals against each other. The fact is that our pre-production costs are much less. End of story. If we can figure out why that is, there's a chance we can solve the problem. We think we've figured it out. Do you think we're wrong?

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