Re: Animation budgets

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Posted by Dave on May 31, 1999 at 05:18:44:

In Reply to: Re: Animation budgets posted by Jon McClenahan on May 30, 1999 at 16:00:10:

: 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?

I enjoyed the site very much but I think I have a very different view on how we got here.

Here is what I disagree with.

You seem to be saying that people no longer want full animation because of the cost which is untrue. Why you are even comparing the two is beyond me. We never did do full animation in series TV shows so the budget differences are useless to compare. Features exist in their own league with the requirements of symbolic artistic language being different.

Shows didnít become more expensive, available labor pools just got cheaper. I can say without fear that had the Japanese and the Rim got all the work because of cheapness alone. That is no longer true so you are seeing work come back here.

In the 60ís childrenís shows were considered unimportant and producers (outside of Disney) took little advantage of their presold zombie audience and until producers found money in marketing the shows were of little use whether they were well done or not. Better animation didnít become desirable until it could make a buck.

Producers set the price for animation so any nonunion shop will always have the advantage ( which is an illusion) and claim the unionists to be fat cats. Itís human nature and a very good example of self hatred. We artists believe that what we do isnít worth being paid for let alone well enough to own a home or pay for our children to have a future. Just think, I can produce a show more cheaply in my living room than you could in your studio. Question is why would I bother.

For example you claimed the Canadians were doing it for less because of subsidies yet if they donít have that unfair advantage, doesnít that make you the fat cat ? It depends on your perspective. There is a lot more to the OS work that isnít exactly kosher isnít there ? Kickbacks, farm out deals between studios. The truth is you can always do it for less if you try . How low you are willing to go will determine not how economic you are but how desperate for work you are. Competing on those terms will keep producers happy knowing you and your artists are starving.

James Wong once boasted that his studio turned out 250 half hours in a year (and I believe him) so you claiming you do produce more good animation than any other studio is right up there for boasts. I say we have a contest. The real point being you have reduced your work to being widgets. More, faster, better. I suggest the blade is double sided.

My first 15 years of animation were totally freelance and while it allowed me the chance to poke fun at my more future minded union bros and sisters it left me with no plan and no future. I like you feared that the business and I deserved no less than my total self destruction through enslavement, depravation and hard work.

I watched my friends be harassed and taken advantage of and still I though well we are less than human and donít deserve any kind of normal life.

I watched studios put us all in competition to drive the prices as low as humanly possible and still I thought that starvation was Gods plan for us wicked page flippers.

I had friends drop from nervous breakdowns that happened solely because they were incredibly overworked and couldnít manage to take care of themselves in any kind of normal healthy ways. The studios that did that took no responsibility whatsoever and just hired new slaves.

Iíve watched artists drink themselves into uselessness because they had no lives to speak of only because they always were working. Of course we donít deserve lives, we are the lowest form of life, we are artists. Arenít we always just having fun?

What stuns me is because you think that because you have some monetary advantage over a union shop that you are any better than them at all. That you somehow have trimmed some huge amount of waste. The only thing you trim off with a nonunion shop is the voice of your workers, their health care, their dental care , their retirement plan and the cost of living in LA. Bet you can find a $60,000 house in Chicago Try it here.

Iíve lived my life in YOUR world. I know the smell , the taste and the end of it. Even as a union worker I ask no more money than I need, no more than Iíve ever needed yet the producers have INSISTED on giving more. Are you getting the drift ? WE DONT SET THE PRICES FOR ARTISTS , THE PRODUCERS DO! What you are thinking is just what they want you to think. That somehow we are all just pulling down the giant with our crazy demands. Putting you in emotional and financial competition with a ghost they control. This makes your portrayal of the LA crews a bit more than false but giving your motivation and selling point.

In the end we all have only one thing in common, I hope. Our love of the art and the people who do it. You must use what you know to do the best you can but in that still you must have some care for the people you work with. The question is between us now is just by degree. A sense of free enterprise is wonderful but the demands of this work carries into a realm beyond normal human endurance and if you are responsible for the quality of peoples lives in that way you are already carrying the burden . That you cannot escape. This as you know is such a labor intensive job that it is always involved. The claims of more better faster are not just due to the super human abilities of a genetically bred four armed animator. Everything has a price in human terms. I will be more than willing to applaud your amazing ability to produce such wonderful quantity when I hear that the people working for you have the ability to survive by living in some normal human existence. Perhaps I am old and think that it should be on the top of the list of your studios boasts.

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