Let's try this thread again


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Posted by Kevin on April 20, 2000 at 22:18:59:

In Reply to: Can Tom Sito justify this? posted by Canuck Amok on April 20, 2000 at 12:12:51:

Okay, the opening question of this thread was inflamatory, and the ensuing discussion has been full of sound and fury signifying nothing. So let's start over.

The reality is that even the big union studios in LA are shipping out at least a portion of their production work. And we all know it's not the directors or lead artists who make these decisions. I believe this started a few years ago in reaction to the talent crunch, but now there is enough local talent to keep these jobs here. So I have to assume this is a purely financial decision. For example, I've heard that Sito and Kroon were given a very restrictive budget that was non-negotiable, along with a tight deadline (since the Osmosis Jones TV show along with the product tie-ins were set very early on). So my question is this . . .

What would it take for these jobs to stay in town? Here are the problems that I see:

1) The current big studio culture is to procrastinate on making a decision, then to want things done yesterday. There are actually two parts to this problem.
First, on a given project, bad judgment from the top costs millions of dollars in wasted time and footage. This has to be made up for, often in artist's salaries.
Second, on a long-term basis, not having overlapping production means the companies are constantly starting over, with all the associated costs that entails.

2) Lack of training programs in the studios. I don't know if any of the big studios is doing real training and internships anymore. If you're not an accomplished professional already, they aren't interested in you. Studios therefore have less flexibility and have to pay the going rate for experienced pros. Artists increasingly have no company loyalty but are hired guns who will go where the money is.

3) Union salary minimums. Are they too high? My suspicion is that minimums would have to be dramatically slashed for most big producers to stop using runaway production. My experience is that producers fail to factor in the costs of fixing and redoing outsourced production, or lack the patience to have the work done cost efficiently in-house to begin with, so that runaway production seems much cheaper than it actually is.
Also, we're now in a situation where the rank-and-file animation artists are laid off for months between projects. You make good money for 9 months, then live off savings for 6 months. Unless studios are going to do a much better job of continuous employment, then most of us aren't going to work for much less than we already are.

So let's have this discussion without trashing Tom Sito or anyone else. How do we keep these jobs in house? If they have to go out of the studio, why isn't more of this work going to the small local studios in LA?


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