Re: Jon and his Blame

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Posted by Jon on June 07, 1999 at 10:12:54:

In Reply to: Jon and his Blame posted by Dave Brewster on June 06, 1999 at 16:20:45:

: I just reread Jons last posting and something just irked me more than usual. Jon, you claim to be of the mind that you dont consider yourself *brilliant* yet you seem to have decided that YOU all of a sudden know why things are shipped overseas. You, like your other dogma spouting studio reps blame artists for *scoffing* at deadlines and blowing budgets for studios shipping things out. BS. You and I are due to have this out Jonny, so lets not wait.

: A. Prove I have *scoffed* at ANY budget or deadline. Proof. You know, the evidence that backs up things you say.

Shit, Dave, YOU had a rough weekend, didn't you?

Alright, look, we are not seeing eye to eye, but every time you shrug off TV animation production going overseas simply because it's CHEAP, I would say you are scoffing at budget, if that's how you want to put it. A penny saved is a penny earned, you know? Anyone who gets his product or service done cheaper makes more profit, and that's the goal of every business, except those myriads of flash-in-the-pan businesses who start up, run for a year or less, and then fold. Have you heard the stats? Something like 90% of businesses fold up within a year.

But I'm glad you THINK you're not scoffing at budgets and deadlines because that means that we agree they are important.

: B. Surviving by taking advantage of people ISNT hard, surviving and being FAIR is. Fact of life.

No arguments there. Are you implying that someone is taking advantage of people?

: C. Despite the fact you claim to be doing it here in the US , what is this reference to your building a studio in India ?

An ex-employee of mine asked me to help him start up a studio in India (an Indian himself). This came at a time when I was so weary of struggling to keep my business running that I had decided to sell StarToons, and barring its sale, to fold it up (my wife HATED that idea ... women!). So I told him that I was selling the business, and would undoubtedly be beholden to whoever bought it. The long & the short of it is his company, Heart, entered into a minimum 2-year agreement with StarToons, which gave me "light at the end of the tunnel" - the possibility of getting out of business ownership (and eventually allowing me to literally get back to the drawing board, doing what I enjoy, which is animation). Now how does this affect my deep (you say, INSANE) desire to re-establish animation production here in America? My contention is it broadens profitability opportunities while at the same time helping a friend. That's what business is all about ... and I sense you or someone will insert comments here about being a sellout, etc. But again, who else is doing TV animation in America? I wish somebody would. I believe the TV animation industry is such that OS production will always be a consideration. I just also happen to believe that it's big enough to allow for VIABLE production here.

: D. I think you are going to have to prove to us all that it wasnít just cheaper labour market that got the shows taken overseas. Prove to me, right here and now that ANY compensation the union would have made would have kept work here. The numbers just dont support you. Get over it, they were going to ship the work out PERIOD. It was money , pure and simple. Stuff your blame.

Here's what I know - the union contract I saw was strictly against any form of production quotas. And that means that an animator can expect pay without the studio expecting anything from him. One fellow I knew got a job doing prop models on a Disney TV series. He was turning out 10 a day - no big deal, until his fellow model artists started grumbling about how he was making them look bad. They were turning out 10 a WEEK. Eventually he started settling in, doing 10 a week. See what I mean? Work out the math on that. His widgets didn't get any better by taking more time. They were just turned out with less frequency (=at a higher cost).

: E. Iím really sick of your condescending attitude mister. I have only been in the US for 5 years. Iím on an O-1 visa for exceptional ability. During the time that LA was suffering the strikes I was working outside the US in one of your NONUNION studios (aka a SWEATSHOP). Dont you ever fucking try and tell me the laws of nature Jon . I lived them. Iíve seen the same smartass self important studio owners brag and swagger spouting *how they did it* when they merely added cheap labour. Jaded, Iím not jaded. Iím experienced. Is this what you tell novices coming into the business ? That anything that doesnít agree with your rules of business is *jaded*? Now you are pissing me off.

Congrats on your exceptional ability. Eventually people like you won't have to move to America to work on features either, because somebody will figure out the increased profits to be made by doing features entirely OS. Your pretty smug to think it couldn't happen. First, the US lost the TV production - putting out of work men and women who had been doing it, first as theatrical shorts, then as TV series, for thirty years. The resurgence in animated features is a fairly recent phenomenon. So far, the little feature animation community, if I am to believe you, feels pretty confident that they are a permanent fixture. Hmmmm ....

But it really bugs me that I come off as condescending to you. I thought we were starting to reach some common ground. I think we've learned a lot from each other. You didn't know that any TV animation was done in America ... you said you were surprised. You've straightened me out on a few issues too, like the current status of Canadian governmental supplements.

The rules of business are more ancient and unchangeable than you or I will ever be able to appreciate. Peter Drucker has written some great works on the subject. They were enlightening to me, because when I first got into animation, I was the Vice-President in charge of Bitching-and-Moaning at our studio. I was convinced the suits were doing everything wrong. After reading Drucker, I STILL knew they were doing a lot of things wrong, but a lot of MY ideas were wrong, too.

: F. Now here is MY theory. Itís you thats jaded. Itís you that are inflexible and single tracked. Itís you that thinks that people are children and must be trained by some kind of pavlovian reward system. That animation could be no better.Itís you that thinks that animation should be considered widgets and produced like factory parts. If TV is soulless itís that because you and yours CHOOSE to make it that way. You babble how we should compete against the disadvantaged and how we are to blame for mass shipping of cheap work to other countries. Dont ever blame people for wanting a life Jon. Itís sickening. Self congratulations for working within an uncreative or exploitive system are hollow if you cant do better than just producing the widgets. Anyone can do that Jon. Anyone.The question is what YOU really want from it. You seem to love blaming , and Iíll indulge you if you want.

Quite an accusation there, all apparently because I'm trying to survive in business. First off, I'm working "within an uncreative or exploitive system." My reply to this would be more inflammatory than your statement. I'd rather not escalate this shit-fight.

Second, animation produced for TV is "just producing the widgets." We dare not apply that nasty word "widget" to your carefully crafted art. I guess the greates animated film ever produced would've been, what, "The Thief and the Cobbler"? How many years in the making? A labor of love, by a true artist, Richard Williams. Brilliant. Or how about another of his films, "Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy"? I once had a standing offer of ten bucks to anybody who could watch that film all the way through ... and never had to pay. But they weren't widgets.

And sure, most childrens programming these days would make us all gag. On the other hand, we have cheaply produced shows that you and I could both enjoy together.

: It brings to mind something my mother used to say to me as a child. *Eat your food because people are starving in India*. Now you have those people to help you prove how ineffective we all are at creating widgets. Good luck to you Jon.

Thanks Dave. Anyhoo, hope you're feeling better soon. And I'm NOT trying to piss you off by saying that. I sense it would be great having somebody like you as an ally.

Hey! It could happen!

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