The L.A. Times notes how moviedom's high-priced talent is suffering (poor babies):
David Fincher used to make $8 million to $10 million per picture, along with a nice piece of first-dollar gross, as an A-list director. But he's taking considerably less money -- and no first-dollar gross -- to get his new Sony Pictures film, "The Social Network," off the ground.
But forget about live action directors. How are their animation brethren doing?
Not super great, actually. As a veteran teevee director informed me at last night's membership meeting ...
"The last show I got laid off from was brutal. Nine months long, and they work you as hard as they can, and pay you as close to minimum as they can. By the time you're close to the end, everybody's dragging. It's hard to keep up the pace they want and keep the quality they want, especially with all the changes they insist on."The only way some of my friends get anything out of the producers is by threatening to quit, and not many people have the courage to threaten, not in this work environment. Everybody worries about getting the next job ..."
The various meetings I've been in lately, artists complain about how work cycles are shorter and more intense. Twelve months shrink to nine months, and nine shrinks to six. The relaxed three-month gig has now been whittled down to a frantic six weeks.
In many respects, animation has morphed into the live-action model: slam bam, seventy-hour weeks, then boom!. It's the unemployment line, and if you're lucky, next month you pick up some freelance timing or board work and hope for the best. (And as more than one live-action rep told me in Florida last week: "We've got forty percent unemployment right now... we're getting hammered.")
So Mr. Fincher, move over. You've got nothing on the animation community.