Monday, June 11, 2007

A Moment with Lou Scheimer

The solo studios -- DePatie-Freleng, Hanna-Barbera, and Filmation among others -- are pretty much over. There's DreamWorks and Jeffrey Katzenberg, but that's about it. Almost everything else today is but a gear in larger conglomerate machinery. And everyone is an employee, one way or another.

Lou Scheimer was a co-founder of Filmation in 1962, and kept the doors open for 26 years before L'Oreal bought the place and instantly shut it down. He remembers the day that it happened -- along with a lot of other things -- in a wide-ranging interview with The Trades:

...It [was] the ugliest day of my life. I had to tell hundreds of people that they were out of work. I had spent twenty-five years trying to keep all the work in this country and training animators. And I'm proud of those moments. And I'm really proud of all the people who worked there too, because they were great people, and they're all doing very well nowadays...

It was certainly a memorable day in my life, since I'd been there since the previous summer and was hoping (don't we always?) for a longer run. But Lou called us into the third-floor theater and gave us the bad news. He was emotional. We were emotional. And shortly thereafter, we were carrying our belongings out to our cars in cardboard boxes.

Which, come to think of it, is often the fate of employees who work in a "project-to-project" business. And project-to-project is what the animation industry is in 2007.


R.J. Carter said...

Thanks for posting this link. Lou truly was one of the best interviews I've ever conducted, and if I'd had more memory in my digital recorder, I'd have probably kept him on well past the 40 minutes we spent on the phone.

Of course, it wasn't until I came here that I knew the name of the French company Lou referred to. L'Oreal, of all places. I worked there for over five years, 1999 thru 2005 (thru their subsidiary, Maybelline.) If I'd only know that while we were talking, we could have had quite the sideline commisseration going on.

R.J. Carter

Anonymous said...

And a makeup company bought an animation company... why exactly?

Floyd Norman said...

I remember that terrible time and I really felt bad for Lou who had done so much to keep our work in the good old USA.

Funny thing is, I had never worked for Filmation. Thanks, L'Oreal for screwing over the lives of so many people -- but business is business, right?

Yet, the game continues because Eisner whacked us again some twenty years later. You gotta love these business guys, right?

Anonymous said...

And a makeup company bought an animation company... why exactly?

Because it could.

(En actualment, I think it was for the library...)

Jonathan said...

How about Aardman? Are you considering companies outside the US?

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