Below the Line?

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Posted by Charles on March 16, 1999 at 22:07:34:

At ASIFA's Animation Expo in Glendale earlier in the month, I was approached by an individual who was looking for 20 animation artists to send to another state to work on a network production. This fellow helped swing the deal, so he thought he'd come to me and get the artists he needed to see production through.

And what an offer! Your own apartment in a sweltering southern state in the middle of summer! And oh, yes, a bit of a salary, too.

Having no intention whatsoever of helping this guy out, I thought I'd have some fun. So I played along. What I discovered was very interesting.

Turns out, he was an agent for executive producers in animation. What made my conversation so fascinating was his attitude towards artists. I told him that it would be difficult to get any artist to move out of town for what he was offering, and that artists attitudes are changing. Regardless of the employment situation in Los Angeles, artists are much less tolerant of the traditional way that they've been dealt with. He acted surprised and annoyed. He then went on to explain to me that we are a "below the line" item. When we are through, we go. He then went on to voice token sympathy for those who are struggling with layoffs. Then he went on and told me about a client of his, an executive producer who made an annual salary of $500,000. This client of his lost his job and he expected me to feel sorry for him. His comment was, "Well sure, he was making a lot of money and he had a chance to save some, but imagine what it's like to go from half a million dollars a year to nothing!"

Okay. Boo hoo.

Needless to say, he and I didn't quite see eye to eye. I guess he was too far above the line.

Could this be a trend? Unemployed animation executives? What part of the line do they belong to?

Can you imagine making $500,000 a year or more to sit around in a beautiful office, drive the finest car, dress in the finest suites, live in the finest neighborhoods, manage the animation industry and not be able to draw your way out of a paper bag? No wonder they send their productions to other countries.

How many artists can you hire for $500,000? How can anyone justify making that kind of money, then complain that production costs are getting too high? What kind of nonsense is this?

How many animation artists become executive producers? How many are involved in production or studio management? How often is an animation artist consulted? How often are we invited to production meetings?

Why do office assistants become producers? Why do copy girls wind up heading recruitment departments? Why do these unqualified, poorly trained, unprepared people go "above the line"?

Is it any wonder that studios close down with this kind of executive management? With this kind of absolute waste of resources?

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