One warrior to another ...

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Posted by Jon on December 04, 1999 at 09:10:18:

In Reply to: Re: Creative Financing? posted by Trevor Keen on December 03, 1999 at 14:44:12:

: As a Canadian animator who never headed south (although I did work in England), I read your message with interest. The Canadian animation industry is not the predatory juggernaut you'd think, at least not in Toronto.

Pleased to meet you Trevor. Let me introduce myself, Jon McClenahan, ex-animator and now full-time brow-furrower. And a Yank. I've been in the biz since 1980, when I started as an assistant animator in Sydney, Australia (there were no animation opportunities in the U.S. at the time).

I am convinced that TV Animation Production can and should take place in the U.S. The Canadian tax incentives are designed to bring capital into a smaller economy, and they've been extremely successful. My hat is off to the Canadian government for its foresight.

Other smaller economies are doing the same thing. The fact is that Australia's film production tax incentives are looser and more economically beneficial than Canada's. So are Mexico's, although I'm not sure what Mexico has to offer in the animation industry. Those two countries can't get anybody's attention either. Right now, the buzz-word is "Canada."

The U.S.A. is a capitalist system, which implies freedom of trade without government interference - or help. The Powers That Be take the attitude that our industry has to work out its own problems. And with our industry, as with EVERY industry, it's all about the Benjamins at the bottom line.

So Canadian co-production is a good alternative. Some form of foreign co-production is pretty much imperative in today's global economic climate.

But as an artist - at least an ex-artist - I want to be able to work, right here, in my home country. American animators, the few that there were, had to get jobs as supervisors at Pacific Rim studios, or else compete for a handful of jobs in the feature industry. The opportunities in that industry have grown over the past decade, on the one hand, but on the other, the expansion has been largely filled by foreign - mostly Canadian - animators, who unlike you, didn't mind moving south.

TV cartoons are the bread-and-butter of the industry, and 99% of that is being enjoyed by Asian animators. TV cartoons are your Petrie dish for animation talent. Our cartoon industry is not in a healthy situation right now, here in the U.S.

From the look of things since I got here, the TV producers have lost touch with reality, turned production into a political circus and TV animation into brain surgery. Production procedures on a certain highly UNsuccessful animated series (that must remain nameless) are FAR more complex and tedious than for a high-profile, top-quality short theatrical release I recently animated on.

Why? Because the people in charge are ex-production assistants who dressed right or talked right or did lunch right, who came out of film school with bright theories and bushy tails and knew nothing of TV animation production ... because there has BEEN none here since 1980!!!

We've got to get it back! And in the mean time, I don't blame Canadians or anybody else for trying to get their share.

We at StarToons are doing our best. It involves co-production, yes, and still less profits than a Canadian firm would get, but it allows us to create jobs here in the U.S. for animators. As a businessman, that goal doesn't really make much sense right now, but as a U.S. artist, it's what I need.

For the record, I believe Canada has some of the nicest people AND most talented artists in the world. I don't begrudge them a bit of their success. But we gotta do something here.

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