Sunday, October 12, 2008

Loyalty

A couple of weeks back, an animation director/producer griped to me about staff leaving one of the shows he was supervising.

"We've got shows to get out, and some of the staff are applying for work at other studios. I wish they had more commitment for the series that they're working on here."

I told him that I sympathized, as I was one of those people who usually stays at the same job until he's carried out on his shield. But here's the deal ...

Animation artists have little faith in their employer to be loyal to them when times are tough. Even when times are good, most artists get shown the door as soon as the last design or story panel has been turned in to the production manager.

The point is, everybody is so battered and bruised today, they pretty much expect betrayal. Expect to be dropped overboard by the end of the week.

Then there's this larger reality:

Job losses in September were widespread as the weakness that began in the housing market expanded to other parts of the economy. Aside from a 9,000 gain in government payrolls, all major categories dropped except education and health care.

Edelmira Clark, 53, of Chicago, said she was concerned about losing her job as a hotel housekeeper. Her company has already cut her work hours to two days a week.

"I'm trying to find a part-time job in the morning to balance, because I can't do only two days of work,'' said Clark, who immigrated to Chicago from Belize in 1997. "But a lot of people, my friends, have lost their jobs for good.''

With the general destruction that's going on in the general workplace, it's easy to see why employees offer little loyalty to employers. None is offered to them.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

The director's gripe has to be a nominee for "most clueless comment of the year."

Anonymous said...

A very well-said post.

Anonymous said...

Was this "director/producer" ever an artist? I'd hate to think that an artist would be that clueless about loyalty considering how artists get NONE of that from the studios.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe that complaint. Did it come from some parallel universe, some alternate reality, perhaps? All I hear about from studios is complaints about the overwhelming amount of applicants they get for any hint of a job opening. If this guy is losing artists in this market he must be hell to work for. I'm an experienced artist who has been out of work for an extended period of time. I have a family to support and we are struggling to survive. I would take the place of one of those "disloyal" employees in a heartbeat. Where do I apply?

Anonymous said...

So it's OK for a "higher-up" to fire employees at will just when they are no longer needed: yet it's not OK for the employee to fend for him/herself? Nice. The hypocrisy is unbelievable and makes my blood boil.

Anonymous said...

I second the first response!


R.

Anonymous said...

I used to be one of those who was surprised at how much constant wheeling & dealing my coworkers would do while gainfully employed. I was 200% "loyal" at my first gig. I eventually watched as entire crews at that place were lied to about the status of their continued employment, encouraged to do (unpaid) OT without being told that they'd likely be laid off in a few weeks.

I left that job of my own volition but I also noted how smart the ones who'd been always looking around and hedging their bets were.

That "director" quoted was a fool.

suspicious said...

I have only seen the kind of behavior the last anon referred to when a production was winding down. I think there is some information about the situation Steve and the director he spoke to were talking about that we don't have. Personally, I can't see how artists in (what passes for) a secure situation would waste their free time taking tests, which are always a long shot. Was the director referring to artists on haitus who were impatient to get back to work? That would make more sense.

Oh, bury me in 3C-12 said...

As his remarks were reported here that director really comes off as a clueless dolt.

"Suspicious" opines:

"I think there is some information about the situation Steve and the director he spoke to were talking about that we don't have. Personally, I can't see how artists in (what passes for) a secure situation would waste their free time taking tests, which are always a long shot."


Yeah, and what about this whole "do a test" issue ?

When will we all stand up and say enough is enough with regards to these ridiculous free "tests" which only waste the artist's time and give the production managers a feeling of power by being able to make circus animals (us) jump through hoops ?

These bogus tests for journeyman level artists are a waste of time as I think almost everyone realizes that they are not actually used to determine who gets a job . (other issues enter in, mostly it would seem that cronyism , "who you know" , is the determining factor, not skill level demonstrated in a test ... and if they can't see your skill level in your reel or portfolio samples then what the hell are they doing judging your work to begin with ? )

What does it mean anymore to be designated a Journeyman artist ? It don't mean shit apparently.

Cronyism has always been around to an extent . Go ahead and hire your buddy, but don't insult me by making me waste 30 to 40 [unpaid] hours taking a storyboard or animation "test" that you and I both know you're not going to use to decide if I get the job or not.

And the guy wonders why people aren't "loyal" ?

You said it well , Steve:

"Animation artists have little faith in their employer to be loyal to them when times are tough. Even when times are good, most artists get shown the door as soon as the last design or story panel has been turned in to the production manager.

The point is, everybody is so battered and bruised today, they pretty much expect betrayal. Expect to be dropped overboard by the end of the week."


So , brothers and sisters , what do WE (united) DO about it ? The Big Question ...

still suspicious said...

Yes, there seems to be a general consensus among us that tests are bullshit. Once, when the field was expanding they were used to recruit new talent. Now that the qualified, well trained talent pool is expanding and the field (except, possibly, for CG specialists), the tests are used for eliminating job candidates. many of the people judging the tests are not only clueless, they are dishonest. I have actually passed tests and still failed to get hired. It's like playing poker against a marked deck.

The only way to stop these abominations is if we all decide and to stop taking them as of a specific date, otherwise we would just be gifting a job to another artist without making the point.

still suspicious (revised) said...

Now, here are the complete sentences:

Yes, there seems to be a general consensus among us that tests are bullshit. Once, when the field was expanding they were used to recruit new talent. Now that the qualified, well trained talent pool is expanding and the field (except, possibly, for CG specialists), is contracting, there are too many applicants for them to handle, so the tests are used for eliminating job candidates. many of the people judging the tests are not only clueless, they are dishonest and arbitrary. I have actually passed tests and still failed to get hired. It's like playing poker against a cheat with a marked deck.

The only way to stop these abominations is if we all decide and agree to stop taking them as of a specific date, otherwise we would just be gifting a job to another artist we will fail to make the point.

oy gavault said...

Getting back to the topic at hand, I've been a producer/director for the better part of two decades, and the artists who have worked with me have all said they'll follow me anywhere I go. I receive this kind of loyalty because I treat them the way I like to be treated. It's as simple as that.
Naturally, I've been unemployed for months now.

shebbing naches said...

I hope you don't think you are out of work BECAUSE you are a "nice guy." That would be a shanda!

Anonymous said...

Storyboard test at Rough Draft Studios and Fox Animation Studios are 4 pages of script - and very difficult segments as well. The tests are mandatory for anyone applying.

Don't waste your money on gas driving over there to pick up those tests unless you have 3 or 4 days to work on them. For free.

Just sayin' said...

Three or four days for four pages of script? That's pretty good-your hired! (or should be). What is Rough Draft testing for? I thought they were staffed up.

Anonymous said...

not only are fox and rough draft's tests too long, they are irrelevent. no one gets hired there based on the quality of a test. both studios are made up of a very specific circle of people who never hire outside the circle. dont bother.

RedDiabla said...

I'm sooooo glad that I'm not the only one who is sick of being insulted by the idea of taking a damn test for a job that I won't get anyway because I'm not one of the "cool kids".

Now that everyone is getting sick of the tests, how many of us are going to stick to our guns and actually not take the test when asked? How angry and insulted are we truly? This is the time to find out.

Anonymous said...

--Storyboard test at Rough Draft Studios and Fox Animation Studios are 4 pages of script

And do WGA writers and SAG actors have to take tests to get hired? That would be a resounding NO. And do WGA writers and producers and SAG actors stand up to management to stop this practice? That also would be a resounding NO. Shame on all of them. As I see it, the only way to change this is to get the DGA to support animation directors to give them the leverage needed to protect artists in animation.

Anonymous said...

...um, well, I hate tests as much as anybody - but SAG actors do have to take tests... they're called 'auditions.'

...and, um, well... WGA writers generally start out writing 'specs'... so that's kind of a test too.

Just sayin'...

Anonymous said...

I don't know about specs, but I do know that actors auditions take place on the spot and they only last a few minutes, not a week of nerve-wracking free labor.

Anonymous said...

No, clearly you don't know about actor auditions. You sometimes have to go in for several callbacks, and depending on the circumstances, they can be very long and gruelling. Then three weeks after the fact you find out you didn't get the part. I'm just saying it's similar.

Anonymous said...

Its not similar. Four days of work is 32 HOURS at a desk.

I'm an animator and a stand up comedian and I've done auditions before and there is no comparison to the storyboard tests that are being handed out. Its the difference between shooting a bullet and throwing it.

Its also nice that when you audition you actually get to meet some people from the production - and not pick up and then drop off a test with a receptionist.

I don't know about specs, cont. said...

Yes, I DO know about actors auditions. I have been married to an actress for years. Multiple call-backs are rare and long "gruelling" auditions even rarer. Even so, they take place in a single day and require no homework. They put us through hell because they can. The tests only test your ability to take tests. They have nothing to do with actual production conditions. In the studio the artist has unlimited access to essential information about the show, and a personal face-to-face working relationship with the director. Your not sitting alone at home clueless trying to out-guess a faceless jury. You spend days of uncompensated time distracted by the thought that every creative decision you make could make the difference between you and your family spending the following year living a normal life or one of abject poverty sweating out every bill and meal. Even the worst actor's audition imaginable is better than that.

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