Monday, August 31, 2009

Happier Artists

I trundled around to a couple of studios today, and hey. There are animation artists working at studios who are actually content.

"A lot of us are going to be working on Sponge Bob Square Pants until October 2011. Last month when we heard there was a big sigh of relief. We're doing the shows at the same pace as before, just moving along, and it's a nice feeling when you know work is going to be there awhile." ... "This is the best place I've ever worked ..."

The deal about animation studios is, one of its shows on the first floor can be an unadulterated pleasure on which to work, while the production upstairs might be a grinder with insane deadlines, uncompensated overtime, and a production manager who's a first cousin of Atilla the Hun. The difference usually comes down to budgets and who's running the show. You get somebody fairly enlightened who knows how to design and schedule show episodes, you get a crew that gets to have a life nights and weekends, and is happy.

And when not, the fifth circle of hell is often the result.

... Then there's Film Roman, the second studio I drove to.

"It's been tough on The Simpsons crew the past year. Fox has cut budgets and we've lost artists. The time we have to do each show is less, and everybody is more stressed. But you know, the new producer Tom Klein is talking to people and really trying to make things better. I mean, we know there's only so much he can do because Fox and Gracie are squeezing the budget, but a lot of us appreciate he's communicating and trying to make things better."

I'm pretty much a freak about communication myself (proven by all these posts), so I think it's a good thing when a studio honcho wants to talk to the people working for him.

Transparency, short term, is often a pain for management. Long term, however, it's a fine way to improve the workplace environment.

Add On: This is the sort of video various artists were watching at their desks today.

It's probably related to the fact that it's hard to breathe when you walk outside and get enveloped by the hundred degree heat. That could have something to do with it.


ordinary average guy said...

My sister and I have always discussed how giving your workers positive feedback and just acknowleging their hard work once in awhile costs a company absolutely nothing and goes a long way in forming loyalties and morale. And we say this as the average workers.

On a side note, that video is terrifying. I wish the best for those affected!

Anonymous said...

It's nice the Spongebob crew is so happy. But let's hope the scripts improve. The last batch of new episodes have been pretty much ass. My kid's losing interest in the yellow guy because "he acts too stupid and mean now". As a grownup who's enjoyed the Spongester, I can only agree...

Anonymous said...

not sure why the current crew on the >single< animated multi-billion dollar cable hit in history would be a litmus test for "happiness" but okay. keep asking the irrelevant surveys.

Steve Hulett said...

Not counting Family Guy.

Hardly a survey, anon. Merely snippets of conversations I have with staff artists.

The Simpsons has had morale problems due to corporate nickel squeezing. A small shard of sunlight is a good thing, yes?

god said...

"The beatings will continue 'till morale improves."

Anonymous said...

Of COURSE the Spongebob crew is happy... they know that this franchise is in no danger of dying and as long as they tow the line they're going to be employed. Must be a slow news day. Your dues hard at work everyone. Bask in it.

Anonymous said...

God, the relentless bitterness of some people here really gets old. I know it's probably the same burned-out guy who has too much time on his hands, but damn, give it a rest.

Anonymous said...

welcome to a labor blog. looking for sunshine, visit a prozac support group forum.

Anonymous said...

You're right. We should give it a rest and just accept the fact that unions are an obsolete bureaucracy that have driven every industry in America to send work oversees.

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