Re: This Union Situation

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Posted by Kevin on March 05, 2000 at 23:04:27:

In Reply to: Re: This Union Situation posted by Jon on March 05, 2000 at 08:19:03:

: : I was one of those you met today, Jon. It was nice to connect the person with the posts I've read here. And it was great to see the excellent work you're producing out in the hinterland (please, no slams about me brown-nosing Jon!)

: I hope I behaved myself.

You were a sweetheart.

: I haven't officially met Tom (brushed past him at Sisaly's once) and I'm sure he's pretty busy with Osmosis Jones right now. But he seems like a reasonable guy ... as do all the other union animators I know, many of whom used to work for me. Still, I've read that contract, and it isn't how our animators work.

You mean paid by the foot instead of paid by the hour?

: Take this latest video: After wasting 12 months negotiating the contract, the client finally gave us the green light to start on production, but we would have only 3 months to completely finish it. We had never turned around 2700 feet in such a short length of time. Our management staff was shaking their heads, but I told them I thought we could do it. The alternative was no work.

Ye Gods! That's 30 feet a day if you were going 7 days a week!

: We pulled all the plugs. We had interns running around like ants, helping with production. We called on all of the reliable (and willing) freelancers we could find. And our guys were putting in 50-60 hour weeks, for all that time.

I assume you know we're used to long periods of heavy overtime, as well as working by the foot.

: Their reward: the extra money, extra paid-vacation time, and the knowledge that they had saved the studio's butt. In the end they were weary but satisfied in their accomplishment.

Sounds like they needed it and deserved it. But that doesn't sound so different from work I've done at union studios.

I know most of the people who make up Cornerstone Animation, a small shop out here run by animator Larry Whitaker. I believe virtually all of the employees are or recently were union members. If they wanted, they could have signed their rep cards and Cornerstone would be a union shop. Not only haven't they, but instead I see incredible dedication on all their parts to make this fairly daring gamble succeed. They want it to succeed for Larry AND for themselves.

: I met Bill Dely from Cornerstone ... and have already gotten a fax from them about their new company. I wish them all the best. But it's interesting that they still have this "rep card" thing hanging over their heads.

Was it your impression that this is something that is worrying them? I haven't gotten that impression for them myself.

: I'm not denying, obviously, that the current Regime in this industry is doing it all wrong. But from their standpoint, the hot anger of the artists will only make them run to the "safety" of the Pacific Rim where the animation fairies take over.

: We can't FORCE them to consider American animation anymore. We have to co-erce them ... seduce them ... wink at them and lift our skirts a bit. How do you look in heels, Kev?

Tell me when to start shaving my legs, Jon! Seriously, I'm really skeptical that most current producers give a damn about animators seducing them. Do you think if the union disappeared tomorrow that work would suddenly come back from the Pacific Rim? Somehow I don't think so. Somebody is going to have to demonstrate a new paradigm; somebody is going to have to kick their asses with good shows done here. Nothing else will get their attention. Even then, they'd screw it up if they tried. So I'm not thinking much about how to convince the current crop of what Charles aptly calls pseudo-producers to do anything. They need to become extinct so that their bodies can rot and form the nutritious fertilizer into which the budding roots of new studios can grow.

: : Jon, if you decide to come out here, I think you'll have no problem finding plenty of talent that will treat you with every bit of the respect you show them. Yes, there are people who want the safe paycheck, but there are also lots who crave the chance to spread their wings, to work without idiots mucking up the works, to work in an environment where what one person does REALLY matters.

: It would take some retraining to show a lot of guys how to make footage work for them. But that's how StarToons employees would have to work. It's the only way to keep the budget under control. Without a controlled budget, the studio can't last. Artists gotta realize that.

I think most animators out here have done freelance on a footage basis, so I'm not sure how much retraining it would take (unless you're referring to something I'm not understanding).

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