The Issue that is always with us:
A few days back I got an e-mail from a producer-director at one of the major animation studios. It's worth sharing, and so I share it. It went as follows:
I'd like to say a few words about this from a director's/producer's point of view. If anyone is being taken advantage of, then definitely, they should say or do something about it.
Now...union hours as we all know, are 9-6, with two fifteen minute breaks and a one hour lunch. If you were to come over to the BLANK offices right now, you'd find that fewer than one third of the staff is in the building, let alone at their desks beginning work (I am writing this at 9:15).
We don't make a big deal about it, because ultimately, the work is getting done. I admit that usually I don't come in at nine either, I take long lunches, and goof off during the day. That's why I don't mind staying until 7:30 or 8:30 usually.
This is also the case with other employees I've encountered here late at night. I've actually asked some of them to go home, but they reply that they came in late and want to make up the time.
Again, if an employee is honestly being taken advantage of, they should make an issue of it. But if any of the people who are complaining are guilty of any of the above habits (long lunches, excessive talking or phone conversations, long breaks, or coming in late), my response is for them to shut up, sit down at their desks and do the job they are being paid to do. They might find out that they don't need to put in overtime to get their jobs done.
I responded with this:
Yes, I get complaints. I've had meetings with board artists at BLANK where I've said the following:
"Put down the ACTUAL amount of time you work each day on your time cards. The cards are legal documents. If you take a long lunch and work six hours that day, put down six hours.
"If you work eleven hours, put down eleven hours. Just be honest and accurate."
But you know the drill. People complain about the uncompensated o.t. they're doing, but of course nobody wants to rock the boat and stick his/her neck out by getting vocal about it.
From my p.o.v., scheduling for shows is all over the map. Sometimes it's realistic, sometimes not. I think there are ways of adjusting things without a lot of pain, but it always depends on everyone's flexibility. I tell artists to let management know if they're having problems as a group. (This has happened a couple of times, believe it or not.)
Wandering through studios as much as I do, I see lots of different things happening and get lots of different complaints, stories, etc. Two weeks ago I was at a big studio (not BLANK in the exchange above) and got complaints about two different shows.
On Show #1, a demanding director who wanted changes, changes and more changes, caused everyone to work extra hours, and it was made clear that "there was no budget for o.t." So everyone was sucking it up and working uncompensated o.t. (I got one complaint from someone leaving the show. Nobody else made a peep of protest.)
On Show # 2 (same studio) I was getting complaints about endless o.t., overtime on many nights, overtime on weekends, etc. Problem here was, arms were getting sore and sleep was being lost. But no problem with uncompensated o.t. On this show, the studio was paying all the o.t. hours.
Like I say up above: In Toontown, the ways artists are treated tend to be all over the map.