Letter to the L.A. Times

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Posted by Charles on June 29, 1999 at 18:28:56:

The following is the text of the email I sent to James Bates at the L.A.Times regarding his animation article of last week.

Use it as an example of how to structure your own communication to him.

Let's make a concerted and emphatic effort to point out that animation artists are fed up with this pro-executive propaganda that they print, and that the next subject the media should be addressing is the poor quality of executive management that stiffles our industry.

Mr. Bates -

In your front page article in the L.A. Times of last Thursday, June 24
entitled "Animators' Days of Drawing Big Salaries Are Ending", you
stated that the recent employment troubles for animation artists were
due to "pricey box-office disappointments, runaway costs and competing
animated movies."

You article has been greeted by the animation community here in Los
Angeles with a good degree of astonishment and anger. By placing the
blame for the current problems in animation at the feet of supposedly
high priced animation talent, you completely overlooked the true source
of every trouble that exists in our industry. That is, the pathetic
quality of executive production management that has been plaguing this
industry for years.

Every problem that exists in animation can be directly traced to the
unqualified executives whom you go to for information about what is
happening in this business. Few, if any at all, have any kind of
animation production experience to speak of. Yet here they are, running
one of the most specialized aspects of motion picture and television
production in all of entertainment. I challenge you to find an animation
executive currently heading one of the major studios who has come from
the rank and file of our industry. With the poor quality of executive
management which animation artists must constantly endure, it's no
surprise that problems in our industry arise at a time when demand for
animated entertainment is at an all time high.

In your article, you state that Robert Daly of Warner Brothers made a
decision in haste to maintain a 400 artist staff when the studio didn't
even know what their next project would be. Then you go on to state that
Mr. Daly went ahead with the production of "Quest For Camelot" with the
wrong producer before the script was ready. What kind of executive
management is this? No wonder the studio lost $40,000,000. How come this
man is still employed? Why didn't you challenge him? Why should
animation artists suffer because of this kind of executive strategic

Similar accounts of idiotic executive decisions proliferate throughout
our industry. I don't understand why you and your newspaper write about
the inner workings of animation as if your heads were buried in sand.
These people come to animation to play out their Walt Disney fantasies
without any idea as to what they are doing. They are not trained in
animation or in art, yet they direct. They've never put a pencil to
paper to experience even the simplest aspect of production, yet they
enter this arena and become experts overnight. They routinely ignore the
advice and suggestions of experienced animation talent only to find
themselves millions of dollars in the hole.

No attempt is made to find and foster executive management from the rank
and file of our industry. No attempt is made to properly train the
geniuses you interview in animation production. When a downturn hits our
industry, it's the animation talent that has to carry the full burden of
a slowdown while these mediocre executives and their management support
staffs enjoy the security of full-time employment and the benefits that
accompany it.

Why didn't you address the issue of their own compensation and how it
affects the "runaway costs" of animation production?

Nobody has more of an inherent right to prosperity in the animation
industry than animation artists, yet we are systematically excluded from
it and suppressed by this breed of bungling phonies. When we finally see
a period of equitable success, it's seen as an aberration. When things
sour for us due to the certified stupidity of animation executive
management, you're the first one in line to tell the world half the
story as to why.

The next time you venture into the world of animation production, why
don't you make it a point of asking some of the artists their thoughts
about the subject at hand and how things got this way. Have the courage
to dig a little deeper than just quoting from the same old sources who
happen to be the ones least likely to give you an accurate description
of the true nature of the situation. Your articles will be much more
compelling and animation artists will have much more respect for your
journalistic integrity.


Charles Zembillas

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