Thru the Grapevine

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Posted by Charles on October 10, 1999 at 00:50:57:

The day before, I had an opportunity to have lunch with a close friend who is prominent in animation production at a major studio here in town. I hadn't seen this fellow in a long time so it was good to get together. He related some of his recent work experiences and I thought I'd pass along my impressions of our conversation.

His tales of waste within the production system of this studio were astonishing. Millions of dollars and weeks of work blown out the window on the whim of a single autocratic individual who's not an artist and who's claim to cinematic fame is supposedly expertise in story. My friend, who has always been a staunch supporter of the autocrat, was voicing serious doubts about this person's ability to lead, to trust the judgement of the studio's artists who are more than capable of producing some of the finest animation in the world.

Every problem that exists in our industry is directly artibutable to the inability of our industry's management to do their job. Films with budgets of $90 to $120 million are treated like cookie cutter concepts to avoid any experimentation with story. The driving factor in their logic being the fear of failure.

There's a trend in animation that few people are aware of, especially the great executive powers than run the mega productions. Behind the scenes movers involved in the financing of many entertainment ventures are becoming increasingly aware of the severe management problems we have in many aspects of our industry. The business simply cannot afford to be spending the kind of capital that is being eaten up by the traditional animation executive. Pressure to recoup vested funds and to realize a profit is simply too great. It is a concern that is affecting many aspects of entertainment production and animation is certainly no exception. The successful animation studio of the future will likely be artist owned, working off a production budget that is much more realistic, utilizing methods that are streamlined and result oriented without sacrificing quality, not afraid to innovate, in much greater creative control than ever before and participating in the equity of the properties they generate. That's the
distinct impression that I'm getting from those in the know.

Passing this along to all the brothers, brothas and sisters. Keep the faith. Our turn at the wheel will come.

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