Re: Jon and his Blame

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Posted by Dave on June 07, 1999 at 15:24:25:

In Reply to: Re: Jon and his Blame posted by Jon on June 07, 1999 at 10:12:54:

: : 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?

No, I think you said I was *scoffing at budgets and deadlines*. There is no proof of that and you know it. Why would you even say that if it wasn't your intention to anger me ? The people you are angry at are gone Jon. Because I belong to a union doesn't mean I inherit unrealistic attitudes.

: 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,

Thats a pretty long shot. A long way from me not taking budgets seriously. A very long way.

:if that's how you want to put it. A penny saved is a penny earned, you know?

Yeah, I do.

: 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.

I believe it's 90% of small business fails. Starting any business is risky.

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

Wow. You sidestepped that very nicely. Dont ever THINK you aren't brilliant. That was very nice. Still, no proof. Considered that one answered.

: : 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?

No, I dont know anything other than what you have told me. I'm just making a statement of fact. You must judge for yourself whether you are.

: : 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?

I dont find it insane at all. I just feel there is a need to be open about exactly what the nature of the business is. We cant do that if I'm fighting ghosts from your past. How would you like me to look at you as just another *company bigwig*. Another suit. Wouldn't be fair you say ? Stop trying to paint me as just another *union work shirker*. It's insulting and not worth any intelligent persons time.

: 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?

The point was that it tells you aren't as sure as you say. Not that it's any crime but that it needs to be cleared up before you start dishing out the apple pie.

: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.

That may be so but the question you and I are exploring is what is VIABLE in terms of animating here. Assuming you already know the budgets and deadlines must be hit.

: : D. I think you are going to have to prove to us all that it wasnīt 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.

I think discussing a hypothetical contract is not reality. What you discussed as possible terms and the reality of an actual contract is like discussing someones wish list.The point being that what you saw was what they wanted, not what they had to get. Of course it puts you in an odd position because as you and I know, you had to train people. And they dont just sit down and produce, do they.
I dont agree with that kind of contract for TV but at the same time I'm not sold on incentives. Neither seems fair to me.

: 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.

Uh, but who cares. That is their problem. Not the new persons. Ever hear of someone trying to impress the brass ? I think so. Of course this has nothing to do with animating so trying to say that this occurs in animation is silly. No artist has EVER asked anyone to slow down in ANY studio I've been in . EVER. It's hard enough to do it right.

: 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).

It's fitting it had to do with props because it hasn't occurred here in animation. You know, at H&B the stories of people dying at their desks of old age are pretty famous. I could see that maybe older animators who were tired might have felt a bit left out when the new crop came in and churned like 90 but hell, I've never had anyone tell me they were told to slow down.

: : E. Iīm really sick of your condescending attitude mister. I have only been in the US for 5 years. Iīm 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. Iīve seen the same smartass self important studio owners brag and swagger spouting *how they did it* when they merely added cheap labour. Jaded, Iīm not jaded. Iīm experienced. Is this what you tell novices coming into the business ? That anything that doesnīt 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.

Let it. If that is all there is to it I'm fine with it. There are great animators everywhere, there always were. You see, I dont just do it for a living, I enjoy watching it.
Seeing other people do great stuff doesn't make me jealous or fear my future. That is the beauty loving film. Sad, isnt it.

:Your pretty smug to think it couldn't happen.

Smug ? Moi ? Again, jaded, smug. Heheheheheeh. Get the hell out of the 70's Jon.
You are pretty foolish ASSUMING I dont think it could. Point is , let it. If it's all that easy let it. You think this is all about grasping those last straws of finacial reward before the poverbial ship sinks. The difference between us is I know ANYTHING could happen. The real joke is that you think that ANYTHING you could do speed wise would stop a producer from shipping it out.
We should straighten this out.

Think for a second Jon. Why have Tiny Toons done here? Do you really think it's for the speed ? You and I both know it is because overseas the timing gets deadened and th expressions are too model.Getting it yet ? It's the American sense of humor, not your production ability. Otherwise you are CHEESE and nothing else.

You will excuse me if I claim I know what the product is we are selling here.

: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.

Remember the demise of the studio monopoly ? Remember when that happened ? Got any idea how that had anything to do with it ? Animation was on it's way out in terms of cost with heavy inflation , labor costs, and the demise of ultra powerful film studios that ignored them.
TV animation was it's own enemy as well since it took away the majority of what artists could put in it. Limited was just that. Limited in more ways then one. Animation became less a creative art and more just producing widgets. How easy it was to send overseas proved it. And that is all you want, to keep making your widgets. I suggest you need more than that or you will always be under a cloud of doom. Always.

: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 ....

God no. Where did you get that stuff ? The only thing that I love about it is it is totally insecure. It never was and I hope never will be just a steady paycheck. The idea that we think it will never end or change is silly. For the last 13 years computer fanatics have babbled about the end of cel animation. I laughed and said if it happens fine. Art is art. Now CGI is here and the world is a lot bigger, not smaller. People want you to fear and sorry but I cant indulge you. Whatever happens happens.

: But it really bugs me that I come off as condescending to you. I thought we were starting to reach some common ground.

Stop using anti-union babble. Stop assigning me attitudes about film I dont have. You think it's me Jon, but it's really you that is reading *UNION GOON* into everything I say.

: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.

And we have learned but you stop it all when you use words like *jaded* or *smug*. Or if you tell me I dont have respect for deadlines or budgets. BS. I have to look around and ask "who is he talking to". Not me. Some ghost, but you aren't addressing me.

:You've straightened me out on a few issues too, like the current status of Canadian governmental supplements.

And you know I'm not protecting Canadians, if they have an unfair advantage I think they should lose it. I'm for a totally level playing feild. In this case the advantages were not true.

: 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.

See Jon, we have more in common than you think. I understand human nature. We can talk dogma or the past or we can cut to the heart. I'm tired of myths or misdirected anger just as much as you. The problem is we need naked truth and fact. Not assumtions or feelings. The time for that is over and as a business we must access what we really are. Look at our pimples and moles without flinching. It's time.

: : F. Now here is MY theory. Itīs you thats jaded. Itīs you that are inflexible and single tracked. Itīs you that thinks that people are children and must be trained by some kind of pavlovian reward system. That animation could be no better.Itīs you that thinks that animation should be considered widgets and produced like factory parts. If TV is soulless itīs 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. Itīs 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 Iīll indulge you if you want.

: Quite an accusation there, all apparently because I'm trying to survive in business.

No Jon, because you blame people for not wanting to see it all your way. I dont expect you to like me or even respect me , but I expect you to address me as ME. Not a union rep filled with your past years of confrontation. You are trying to alienate me and make me that ghost you are fighting. I am not them and I wont accept you talking down to me like I was a part of animations demise in America.

: 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.

At least you would be talking to ME. Widgets Jon.

: Second, animation produced for TV is "just producing the widgets." We dare not apply that nasty word "widget" to your carefully crafted art.

But you already have.

:I guess the greatest animated film ever produced would've been, what, "The Thief and the Cobbler"?

Greatest unfinished feature. Oh, yes the widget makers finished it didn't they. I dont consider it done.

: How many years in the making?


: A labor of love, by a true artist, Richard Williams. Brilliant.

Go on. Finish. Not only was it his own personal project but his choice as producer to string out over his commercial work. The deadlines that for others he did hit all the time. In the end it was his mistake to seek finishing funds. He was caught in a trap. Alex Williams is a pal and the real story is not what you know.

: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.

Williams took it as a service job and very little of it was his actual animation. His lack of interest in it was obvious as was his desire to continue on the Theif.

Soooooo. Finish. Oh I see you forgot Roger Rabbit.Made a ton of money, didn't it. Are you out to prove that personal , self finance films take a long time or that bad service jobs are badly put together and can be a mistake. If Mr Williams is the best you can do at artist waste of money you have failed miserably.
Not only is his record of sold commercial success greater than almost anyone else but he has artistically raised the bar for generations to come. Sorry, but a poor example.

: 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.

Hmm. I'll address that later.

: : 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!

Of course it could. If you think I hold grudges, you are wrong. I just dont like having my opinion overshadowed by the past or stereotyped by myth. Should animation stay here ? My personal feeling is that if it does it has to be more than just produced on time. It isn't easy and it isn't simple. Do I want anyones head on a platter ? Not unless it's really funny and I can use it in my scene. Life is too short to live in the past. The future is where it's at. Oh yeah baby.Shaggadelic.

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