Friday, December 28, 2007

'Toon Development Then and Now

This opening paragraph from "Behind the Scenes of Studio Development" got my tiny brain to spinning:

While the writers strike has put a temporary damper on animated feature development, studios are positioned to resume their quest for narrative gold as soon as the issues are resolved and Hollywood gets back to work.

Say what? Shouldn't animated feature development go merrily on? Since board artists and most feature animation writers work under IATSE contracts, not WGA agreements?

Uh, no.

As a Wise Old Animation Producer recently told me:

"Listen, you can't get a studio exec to greenlight an animated feature unless he or she sees a script. Storyboards are beyond them. They don't like to look at them, don't understand them. It's not like the way Disney used to do it, not anymore.

"And the only scripts that execs now want to see are ones from established writers with lawyers and agents and a long list of credits. And that means WGA writers."

Of course, all those "established writers" are currently on strike in the "pencil down" position, and the WGA is leaning on them to not submit material to producers. (Technically, any writer is free to write animation, and several do. But newer, submitted material? There's not much...)

Script-driven animated features have been with us since the late eighties, when Disney -- at the time the major feature animation studio in town -- moved away from its traditional boarding first, scripting-later approach. Today, animated features follow the general trajectory of their live-action cousins: script, then boards, then full production. Trouble is, live action isn't animation. As a feature director with a long track record in story development said to me:

"I've worked with good animation writers who get it, who come up with good stuff and really collaborate with storyboard artists. But I've also worked with bad writers. You have to tear up their script pages and start over to end up with something decent. Usually you have to fight them every step of the way, then they come in and copy down the dialogue under your drawings and put it in their revised draft."

In my time, a seasoned pro like Vance Gerry would visualize a feature prior to scripting, get all the major story beats down, develop the characters. But those quaint days under Walt and Woolie are gone forever. Now the word processing comes first.

58 comments:

Anonymous said...

You mean to say you didn't KNOW all this??????????????

Anonymous said...

-But those quaint days under Walt and Woolie are gone forever.

No they're not. MUCH of the best animated content in cable is/was run by artists. Spongebob, Lazlo, Samurai Jack, Powerpuff, Dexter's, etc. Where have you been?

Unfortunately now, Nickelodeon is all scripts except Spongebob, which is completely retarded considering THAT success. All their current dev. is scripted (the strike isn't keeping those fellows from crossing the line.) CN falls more on the side of artists, so if you are an artist, you'd have better creative happiness on that side of the fence. Disney is supporting their artists on Phineas and Ferb, which is refreshing.

Hopefully, the strike will make the animation execs wise up and quit sucking up to the script show runners. Good writing is good writing, sure, but the best thing about animation is how it works DIFFERENTLY than the rest of LA producing. Hollywood producing in it's current form is CORRUPT. I hope and pray Youtube and Google does kick it's ass up and down the street. Keep downloading, kids!

Anonymous said...

But I've also worked with bad writers. You have to tear up their script pages and start over to end up with something decent. Usually you have to fight them every step of the way, then they come in and copy down the dialogue under your drawings and put it in their revised draft."

This is the reason why I think writers are overly glorified in tinsel town. Animation and film is a visual medium. Let's see how the audience would react to words on the screen. Its so easy for the animation writers to take story artist dialogue, ideas, gags, visual descriptions of location, etc, and use it as their own.

HOW COME ANIMATION STORY ARTIST ARE NOT GETTING RESIDUALS? ARE WE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE THE STORY TOO?

hoopcooper said...

To anonymous et. al.

First, as far as board artists getting residuals, I couldn't agree more. But the truth is you already do. As a member of IATSE your "reuse fees" go directly into your healthcare. Which is why your healthcare is so good, and why, if the writers lose the internet and set a precedent, you can expect to see your own "reuse fees" and that healthcare coverage cut in half...at least.

Second, as far as boards and scripts go, I am incredibly disheartened to see this backwards, "all-or-nothing" attitude. Spongebob is a great show, and a board show. But animated features are competing against mainstream features and for better or worse are often expected to speak the same language. Powerpuff Girls is a good example...short, visual and arresting, it might not have made the best subject for a feature. The point is this...Rugrats did quiet well...and needed scripts. Spongebob does quite well and doesn't. There are mediocore writers who come out of other genres and can't write animation to save their lives. There are also directors and board artists who can't keep a storyline straight or pass up a gag even when every viewers interest and investment depends on it.

Nobody's perfect. In the end, the only way it works is when they work together. And finally...I think we all would be overjoyed if the creative forces behind successful cartoons saw some rewards for their efforts beyond their board and script fees.

Anonymous said...

"First, as far as board artists getting residuals, I couldn't agree more. But the truth is you already do. As a member of IATSE your "reuse fees" go directly into your healthcare. Which is why your healthcare is so good, and why, if the writers lose the internet and set a precedent, you can expect to see your own "reuse fees" and that healthcare coverage cut in half...at least."

Wow! Someone with omniscient power finally! That's never been an issue and probably won't ever become an issue. If the writers are so jealous of how our residuals are utilized then they should have their residuals used to improve their healthcare and not get their big fat checks in the mail.
I don't think board artists are seeing the same $20,000 in residuals (that some writers make for second airings) go into a health plan...do you? Board artists aren't even making the same amount as writers do for the inital job.

Anonymous said...

Hoopcooper,

First of all, where in the world do you come up with the idea that if writers don't get the internet residuals that our healthcare coverage will be cut in half? Are you just pulling this out of thin air or is there real fact behind it? Sounds a little alarmist.

Second of all. I'd rather get reuse fees in my bank account and not put in health care. That seems like getting the short end of the stick.

However you look at it, the residuals board artists get come no where near the residuals that script writers get.

Very out of balance.

Steve Hulett said...

You mean to say you didn't KNOW all this??????????????

No.

I'm using literary devices known as irony and sarcasm.

Steve Hulett said...

-"But those quaint days under Walt and Woolie are gone forever."

No they're not. MUCH of the best animated content in cable is/was run by artists. Spongebob, Lazlo, Samurai Jack, Powerpuff, Dexter's, etc. Where have you been?


You're right, of course. I was referring to theatrical features, and should have made that clear.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the truth about theatrical features is that a lot of money and time are wasted on scripts (especially to get the coveted greenlight), but after that the scripts are almost entirely reworked and rewritten by the direct, producer and story crew. And yet the Writer gets all the glory.
Even more amazing is how often this also happens in live-action.

TV is the "land of having to stick to the script" due to time and cost concerns.

hoopcooper said...

Anonymous...

First, as far as the healthcare issue, check it. I don't know what kind of backroom deals are made by IATSE, but the point is, if material is delivered over the internet...and they refuse to pay reuse fees to writers (calling them residuals), do you think they're going to continue paying them to Actors, Directors and IASTE members? Maybe they will, but I'm betting they won't!

If you want your residual paid to you, instead of spread over all of IATSE, you need to take it up with your union. It's not unreasonable, but it's for you to discuss with the rest of 839. As far as having the $$$ equal writers residuals...again, that's a union issue, too. The only place it's an issue would be somewhere that the guild covers writers and the 839 covers artists.

Anonymous said...

The producers won't have a problem with contiuing the health care setup that TAG currently has (and other BTL unions) because it's not a big monetary issue for them. Have the writers ask for that and the producers will jump at it and the strike will be over. You can't equate the two. If those health benefits did go away then slaries would only increase to offset that. It's cheaper for the producers to do it this way.

Only someone trying to alleviate the guilt writers are feeling about putting so many out of work would make that argument. Let's make this clear: WRITERS ARE NOT ALTRUISTIC AND DOING THIS FOR THE GOOD OF EVERYONE! Below the line workers will not benefit from this strike whatsoever and will never recoup the loss of income during the strike.
The only ones this will benefit are the writers and possibly directors and actors.

blake said...

Hoopcooper,

I think you missed my point on the health care issue. I probably wasn't very clear....

My point is if writers dont get internet residuals (and therefore no one else does), why would our health care coverage cut in half?

Even if all residuals are dropped completely, are there figures showing that our health care coverage gets cut in half?

Steve, how much of our health care coverage costs are covered by residuals? Is it really that much?

And even if it is some great amount, and things stay just the same... I think there would have to be a tremendous shift to online delivery ONLY to affect our coverage.

Anonymous said...

What bothers me about the writers strike is that a lot are claiming they are helping everyone by going after internet residuals.

Just call it what it is. You are looking to fill yer pocket books and really care less about everyone else.

Damage is being done by this strike and whatever the outcome is, it doesn't really benefit anyone other than writers. And even then, just a small portion of writers.

Why do so many people support these guys? I know I don't

Anonymous said...

The reason why you're seeing such strong support from directors and actors is because they hope to benefit from the writers striking first. Normally directors and actors can't say enough bad things about writers and now they're acting like they worship the written word.
Even now it seems clear the directors are going to go around the writers and strike their own deal. Once again the writers couldn't get it done.
If there's support at all it's because producers even less loved then writers.

hoopcooper said...

dang-o-rama,

you guys sure hate writers. Good to know. Sorry. And to the comment that the writers have put everyone out of work, please remember they're still at the table, willing to discuss anything. They just won't be told, categorically, what can and cannot be discussed. That was the producers last demand. But it sounds like your minds are pretty much made up.

Good luck and take care

Anonymous said...

Come on guys--you just don't understand how writers are going to save the world. They're suffering for the good of all. Please give them a break.

Notice he never tried to refute any of the comments he found so false? Like a writer has ever cared before if someone else thought they weren't pulling their own weight - other than the person paying them. This "please love us" attitude has only come up since the strike and though many of them are starting to deny it now they did start out with the same attitude of hoopercooper: "we're doing this for everyone."

hoopcooper said...

Anonymous....

"Notice he never tried to refute any of the comments he found so false?"

What comments?

My truth, after thirteen years writing cartoons? It's hard to do. There aren't a lot of visual writers. And to make matters worse, everyone holds up the "stand around and talk" sit-com as the brass ring of writing. Studios will bend over backwards to hire those guys...and they're usually worthless as visual writers. They got no sense of it. They're perfect for sit-coms...and can make a network a mint writing 'em. But that doesn't make 'em any good at animation.

And on animation that relies more heavily on character and dialog, often times there are board artists that are better suited to the work than others. Some approach the situation with grace, and some less so.

I don't know what else is up in the air. The comment that salaries will increase if studios contribute less to healthcare? Maybe. In non-union cartoon work, we've watched numbers go down over the last ten years...because they can. Maybe that won't be the case in Union work, but I don't know.

And I don't expect you to love me. Or even like me. When the seven guys who run the studios decide that we're costing them too much money, they'll give us what they want. They've already proven they don't care what the public thinks.

And writers aren't going to save the world...we're just not going to take a pay cut. That's all.

Anonymous said...

Are the studios asking for a pay cut? If so, I guess I don't really know what's going on in these negotiations.

Anonymous said...

The studios always start with a paycut...it's called negotiations. I can't imagine the studios would expect the WGA to accept a paycut anymore than the guild expects to get some of the outrageous things they're demanding demand. These are just items tossed out to use as bargaining chips so they can appear to making movement towards the center.
You always start negotiations as far away from one another as possible...though I'm sure the studios would be thrilled if the WGA said ok to a paycut.

This strike has never been about paycuts -- that's just hoopercooper being disingenuous again.
If this strike was really about paycuts don't you think that would've made bigger headlines? The only thing studios can negotiate anyway are minimums andmost of what the WGA is striking for has very little to doi with those working at scale.

Anonymous said...

It's not that TAG folks hate writers. It's that animation that is creatively satisfying to work on is unique and doesn't/shouldn't play by LA rules. It is often forced to b/c of issues like the writers strike. Neither side is right nor wrong. But the conflict as a whole is all about Hollywood - money first, quality...about forth I think?

Pixar plays by its own rules and their work shines. Independent work plays by its own rules and quality comes through. This strike will end, some shows will not survive or will be permanently damaged, much will be different, and most likely the same people who were doing well in LA before will do well in LA after. Stars will still voice animated features and tv execs will continue to try to figure out how to make a bundle in animation. They're not doing it for the quality. I find that a lot of people in TAG are in this business for the creative freedom the love of the art - this small remaining pool of people happily insulated from the LA entourage.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

How hard is it to put in a proposal for story artist to get residuals?

The story artist are creating this sequential visual skeleton of the film for everyone to discuss.

Let's take care of the artists that have taken a back seat to the writers in the animation industry!

Anonymous said...

there's that word again. can we please get out of 60's hollywood and into the present?

Todd said...

"You have to tear up their script pages and start over to end up with something decent."

I see people writing this a lot, but I'd like to know the shows this happens on.

Anonymous said...

the funny ones.

Anonymous said...

not enough shows do this due to time and budget...

Anonymous said...

Its just more common to spend more time and money on the front end, leaving less for reasonable execution. Recipe for instant resentment every time.

Steve Hulett said...

"You have to tear up their script pages and start over to end up with something decent."

I see people writing this a lot, but I'd like to know the shows this happens on.


I could tell you the person who told me this (somebody with a long, distinguished career at multiple studios), and WHO they were talking about and on WHAT show (a feature).

But I ain't gonna. I'm just not that self-destructive.

Steve Hulett said...

How hard is it to put in a proposal for story artist to get residuals?

Not hard at all.

The hard part is getting the producers to agree to a residual proposal.

Anonymous said...

If story artists and writers put in a residual proposal together it might just work. The problem back in 2000 was that only the writers were asking for it.

Kevin said...

I think Steve missed this, so I'll answer:

Even if all residuals are dropped completely, are there figures showing that our health care coverage gets cut in half?

Steve, how much of our health care coverage costs are covered by residuals? Is it really that much?


Hoopcooper is correct that about half of the money that funds our health plan comes from residuals. From memory, the MPIPHP (of which TAG is one major participant) took in about $700 million last year for health care -- about half of that was from direct employer contributions, and about half from residuals. I could dig out my notes, but it was around $350 million in residual money for our health plan.

And when the health plan is over-funded, that residual money flows into our pension plans (specifically, into the IAP).

So if the entertainment industry shifts to new media delivery, and new media outlets generate significantly less residual money than the system we have now, then it would indeed be devastating to our health plan.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Kevin for the important informations. Communication is key!

Anonymous said...

"So if the entertainment industry shifts to new media delivery, and new media outlets generate significantly less residual money than the system we have now, then it would indeed be devastating to our health plan."

So the WGA's fight is our fight as well.

Anonymous said...

>>So if the entertainment industry shifts to new media delivery, and new media outlets generate significantly less residual money than the system we have now, then it would indeed be devastating to our health plan.<<

So... This is assuming that everything goes new media delivery and traditionally delivery fades.

Steve said...

One of the many anonymous types here said the following:

"Only someone trying to alleviate the guilt writers are feeling about putting so many out of work would make that argument. Let's make this clear: WRITERS ARE NOT ALTRUISTIC AND DOING THIS FOR THE GOOD OF EVERYONE! Below the line workers will not benefit from this strike whatsoever and will never recoup the loss of income during the strike.
The only ones this will benefit are the writers and possibly directors and actors."

A little info for you.

There's a trickle down effect that happens in the event of a negotiation. For every penny that the WGA gets for something, other unions will see their own parity for it.

IATSE, for example, will see 4.5x of whatever it is the writers negotiate. (If I am remembering the HUFFPOST blog on it correctly.) Why are the studios being such hard asses? Not simply to keep the costs down on writers... but to keep the costs down for every other union. The estimate is that for every penny the writers see, all the other unions combined will see 9.5 cents.

Get it now?

The writers went first, but this is your fight too.

The writers, right now, are your canary in a coal mine. If they get something, IATSE will get something too. As will every other union.

If they get f**ked, then you should be prepared to turn around and take it hard, because you're next.

- Steve

Anonymous said...

WHoa...they are fighting for all of us!! They do love everyone and they are soooo wonderful!!!
They are willing to sacrifice everything for all of us below the line!!!
And if the writers make bigger salaries and more residuals they'll be able to give bigger tips to their waiters! It's all about trickle down economics! They are soooo noble!

BS! If the studios said today we will give the WGA everything they've asked for, but we have to take everything from all the other unions, the WGA wouldn't blink an eye while they signed on the dotted line.

Why is it so important for the writers to think that they're not doing it for themselves? We get it. You want more money. We all want more money, but none of the rest of us are trying to convince anyone that our desire for bigger checks will help everyone else.

Nothing's more annoying than someone who does something for selfish reasons and then swears they're really a martyr.

It's pretty clear that 'Steve' thinks the world revolves around the writers. If they get effed then everyone else will too.

Next time we want you to fight for us we'll call you and let you know.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Steve, didn't you reqad this?

Below the line workers will not benefit from this strike whatsoever and will never recoup the loss of income during the strike.

Anonymous said...

So BTL workers will see more money put into their already good health benefits, but they will never see the income they have lost during this strike recovered.
When these BTL workers lose their benefits because they haven't put in enough hours due to the strike I'm sure they'll be very pleased with the better benefits.

I don't remember anyone asking us to take a vote if we wanted this trickle down increase in our benefits or if we'd rather make an income for the last few months.

Anonymous said...

That's true. If they are really doing this for us maybe all of us below the line workers should've gotten a vote on the strike.

Anonymous said...

Why is it so important for the writers to think that they're not doing it for themselves? We get it. You want more money. We all want more money, but none of the rest of us are trying to convince anyone that our desire for bigger checks will help everyone else.

Nothing's more annoying than someone who does something for selfish reasons and then swears they're really a martyr.

VERY WELL STATED!!

It seems like Steve cares more about the writer's strike then the welfare of the artist. Stop protecting these "Saint."

Do you honestly think the rest of the entertainment world cares if TAG goes on strike? I seriously doubt it. No one will care unless they can benefit from it as well. Writer's are being selfish, just think alone of how many of our friends and family will be out of work because we want our writers to have a bigger piece of the pie. There are a lot of people who never even got to see what type of pie is being serve. Why do we have to always take the back seat!

Sincerely,

Pie Patty

s.r. hulett said...

So if the entertainment industry shifts to new media delivery, and new media outlets generate significantly less residual money than the system we have now, then it would indeed be devastating to our health plan.


True, but I've been in negotiations where the congloms move more money into the pension plans as needed. (For instance, wage bumps are a bit smaller, contributions into the plans are larger.)

Nick Counter's position always is: here's the amount of money we have to divvy up. How do you wants to divide it? More wages? More pension? More money into the health plan?

(Much of this talk is b.s., but that's what is said. And there's an element of truth to it.)

Plan contributions aren't a static game. The producers have an interested in funding industry-wide health and pension plans because there's a definite "economy of scale" factor.

Another thing: The IA and AMPTP anticipated a writers' strike years ago. Their last negotiated agreement (2 years back) had provisions to shift money into the pension and/or health plan "in the event of a job action by another union that slows hourly contributions."

I was in the room, and everyone understood the job action referred to was an oncoming writers/actors guild strike.

Tom Short, love him or hate him, has been warning IA union reps and union members about the impact of a long strike for at least three years.

Steve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve said...

I'm not saying the writers are doing this for altruistic reasons, and picking up a sword for SAG, IA, or any other union.

I'm saying the writers reasons for doing this are the same reason any other organization would do it... The same reason SAG is planning on doing it in June if things don't change.

Circumstance put the writers there first.

I'm not asking you to go out and hug a writer. I'm simply suggesting maybe you could stop blindly hating them.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Steve H. for puncturing that last argument for writers not doing this for themselves.

I doubt anyone begrudges anyone for asking/seeking more money. It's this phoney altruistic attitude that is causing even more anger towards the writers then before.
Just stop claiming you're doing this for everyone.

Ultimately I've got to agree with that one poster on another topic that compared the WGA strike to W's Iraq campaign.
They always wanted and planned on striking. They didn't do the proper research ahead of time to understand what the internet was and wasn't - they're just guessing and going on the boasts of the studio heads (sounds like the directors might have actually hired experts to guide them - notice how strangely silent the directors have been about the strike). They don't care how many civillians are 'killed' to reach their goals. They keep changing the reason why they're striking. And they don't know what it is that will signal the end of the strike short of complete capitulation by the studios.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

So who is "blindly" hating the writers? I think most of the comments have been very clear-eyed as to who writers are and aren't and have demonstrated that most artists don't want to "blindly" believe in a lot of the writer's rhetoric.
Sounds to me like the writers would like us to be "blind".

Anonymous said...

This issue illustrates one of my major problems with TAG. I'm a member but I've spent over a year freelancing storyboards to nonunion studios. Not by choice. It's the only work I could get. My health care coverage through the union ran out long ago so now I'm forced to pay huge monthly Cobra bills.
Meanwhile, the movies and tv shows I've storyboarded for continue to air and sell DVDs and generate revenue that could be going into my pocket right now when I need it most. But instead the residuals I could be earning are paying for the health care of the rest of the union members (many of whom I don't even like). I'd prefer a more modest healthcare package that I could chose to expand on with my own money and have the option of banking my residual cash myself.

Anonymous said...

What are the advantages/disadvantages of a guild electing to direct additional studio participation income toward health/pension vs. directing it toward individual members? (mirrors the small gov./big gov. public/private debate, doesn't it?)

Anonymous said...

and once upon a time, people used to say cable was a raw deal as companies did not pay re-use/residuals, whereas network did. then there was the debate over whether fox was considered a 'network' or not. do these things still apply?

Steve Hulett said...

Thanks, Steve H. for puncturing that last argument for writers not doing this for themselves.

I think you're referring to Steve Marmel, not Steve Hulett.

Keep in mind the differences between the entertainment unions.

Historically, the WGA and SAG have been more militant than the DGA and IATSE.

The DGA and IATSE's governance, structure and membership over the past sixty years have pushed them toward early negotiations and no strike strategies. It's been the opposite for similar reasons re SAG and the WGA.

If you go waaay back, it was the IA in 1933 that rejected an industry-wide wage cut and forced the studios to rescind the rollback for below-the-line workers. At that time, the guilds hadn't even been formed.

Anonymous said...

No, I meant you, Steve H. Iassumed this was your post:
"True, but I've been in negotiations where the congloms move more money into the pension plans as needed. (For instance, wage bumps are a bit smaller, contributions into the plans are larger.)"
Correct?

maybe you misunderstood what argument I thought punctured. I was referencing the claim that if the WGA lost residuals the other unions would automatically lose health benefits.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm reading it wrong but it sure seems that Matt Edelman is wiping the floor with the "Artful Writer" (Mazin) in those "Dust Ups" in the LA Times Op section. It's the difference between hearing someone address the real world of the situation and hearing someone reiterate the WGAs talking points.

Steve Hulett said...

No, I meant you, Steve H. Iassumed this was your post:
"True, but I've been in negotiations where the congloms move more money into the pension plans as needed. (For instance, wage bumps are a bit smaller, contributions into the plans are larger.)"

Correct?


Yeah, okay. You're right, I was misreading.

I'll add something else. As producions close down, contributions to the Motion Picture Industry Health and Pension Plan decline, and over time this takes a toll.

It hasn't reached a problem point yet, but if the Writers Strike goes on until June-July, and SAG then joins Writers and it goes several more months, there could be difficulties.

This, I think, explains a good part of Tom Short's attitude. He sees real damage being done to IA members, also to the plans, and he's already angry about the WGA poaching traditional IATSE jurisdiction.

And from what I know, he doesn't believe the WGA leadership is very good at negotiating a contract. I guess time will tell.

Anonymous said...

So, as stated elsewhere, let's be clear...the biggest threat to the below the line employee's benefits will be due to the WGA being on strike and keeping them from earning the necessary hours to become eligible. NOT the likelyhood of the WGA not getting as many residuals as they want and having the 'residual' funding of the health plans cut in half.

Of course, I'm sure they will just blame the studios for keeping them on strike...

Steve said...

Uh, yeah, as a matter of fact, the WGA will blame the studios for keeping them on strike, because the studios want to gut what they do for pennies, really.

Don't you see a trend?

The AMPTP tries to dial stuff back at the same time that Viacom attempts to make everyone a freelancer.

There's a trend here, that only collective bargaining can correct.

So yes, the WGA will blame the AMPTP for this. Six (six?) multinational media corporations are trying to dictate the terms of living conditions for hundreds of thousands of people...

...and it just so turns out the canary in the coal mine is the WGA. And they stepped up, by fighting.

My opinion, for what it's worth.

Anonymous said...

"the studios want to gut what they do for pennies, really."

You've really got to get this 'they're out to destroy the writers' mentality.
WSure they'd love to lower the minimum rates for sripts, but you can't seriously think that's their agenda. That's just their opening position - the opening position from the WGA is just as ridiculous. This is called a negotiation and you have to start far away from where you want to end up.
No matter how dire a picture you paint for writers you'll have a hard time convincing most of us that when a novice script writer (someone who's never sold anything!) can make between $200 and $300 million for even a low budget feature and DTV animated features minimally get you $25,000 for just a few months worth of work that writers are suffering even before residuals kick-in on WGA projects.

Steve Hulett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hoopcooper said...

Steve,

I don't think anything else needs to be said on the matter...I think you've got it exactly right.

For the future...you might want to follow a template that we put together some years ago on a live action show. Made a union deal with a foreign producer for a show that played internationally and in the US. Got all our health/pension, plus a good deal more dignity and support than we would have seen from Dis/Nick etc.

Maybe that, and the internet are going to be our future. But for the next six months, I think you've hit it exactly...

Steve Hulett said...

Don't you see a trend?

The AMPTP tries to dial stuff back at the same time that Viacom attempts to make everyone a freelancer.


There's always trends. And trends within trends. Every animation studio in town goes through their "let's make everybody a freelancer!" moments. It's the cost-cutting impulse. Then they see that the quality plummets, and they reverse field. (For awhile.)

Re the AMPTP: the boys and girls over there have a fairly transparent strategy.

They walked out of the WGA negotiations.

They'll now walk into the DGA negotiations, work to get a deal.

If and when they get a deal, they'll turn around to the WGA and SAG and say: "Here's the template. Let us know when you want to sit down and negotiate with this as the base line."

After which they'll wait. (And their pockets -- unlike 1960 -- are pretty deep.) We'll see what happens.

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