Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Calloused Behavior

The last couple of weeks, I've gotten more complaints than usual from artists about non-communication from studios regarding jobs.

Here's the back story about those gripes:

1) Signator Studios have a need for an artist or technician, and ask TAG for a list of available personnel in the category. TAG supplies list.

2) Studios (usually non-signator studios) ask us to e-mail an "Artist wanted" ad to our members. TAG complies. (We are not, strictly speaking, a hiring hall, but we strive to help.)

2) Studios get flooded with inquiries.

3) Studios look at portfolios and hand out tests to artists so they can "audition" for the job. (Tests are often days long.)

4) Artists jump through the hoops, do the tests, sit by the phone and wait.

5) Artists hear nothing.

6) Artists call TAG to complain about hearing nothing. ...

Rinse and repeat.

I understand that studios get inundated by inquiries, and that response times are sometimes slow as a result of the indundation. What I don't understand is why studios' human resource departments (or whichever departments are handling applicants) can't get back to people with a "Yes," "No" or "Maybe" before those people get gray hair and retire from the cartoon business. A few comments from the disgruntled:

"[Studio B] called me and asked to see my portfolio. I had worked there before, and brought it in. I didn't hear a word for six weeks. Finally I called. They said they had no openings, they'd all been filled. So I asked for my portfolio back. They had lost it ..."

"You drive to the studio to pick up a test, see that it's going to take a week to do, and spend five days making it as good as you can. Then you turn it in and never hear anything." ...

"I was up for a couple of jobs. Interviewed for them. They said they'd call back in ten days or less. Five weeks later they called to say they were going in another direction, but they might have an opening in two months, would I be interested? I said yes. They said they'd call back in a week. It's already been a week and a half. I'm not holding my breath. ..."

And so on.

Just to let you know, TAG objects to week-long tests. We have no problem with half-day tests, for we know that studios have to check somebody's drawing style against the work in that somebody's portfolio, since people have been known to represent others' drawings as their own.

But we have a strong philosophical aversion to artists doing week-long storyboard tests for free. Yet despite most studios' promises in contract adjustment meetings to cut tests down to more reasonable lengths, long tests continue to happen.

We also have a philosophical problem with studios who don't inform job applicants whether they've gotten the gig or not. Yes, we understand the thing about bottlenecks and the short-handed staffs, but the behavior of many studios is ... what's the right word here? ... piggish. They treat job applicants the way rock stars treat groupies. They use them, abuse them, then toss them away.

28 comments:

Palmer said...

So when I get out of school and start looking for work, and studios start handing me tests, can I realistically tell them, "Sorry, I don't work for free?" Or am I just stuck giving away work until someone decides I'm worth paying?

Steve Hulett said...

Our desire is for job applicants to say "No."

The looong tests occur because show runners have no problem with handing out three pages of script for job applicants to board, and with the requirements of animatics that means lots of panels and lots of time.

Jobs result from tests, but it's maddening to have companies agree that the tests are excessive (not all studios agree, mind you) then continue to hand them out.

A half or quarter page of script is more like it.

Anonymous said...

I received a board test with a paragraph and some designs and given a week to work out any section I wanted to do, however much I felt it would take to show my work. They told me it was to get a better feel for if my humor was creatively the right fit, that it didn't have to be either on model or cleaned up. Is that too much to ask for a storyboard position?

Anonymous said...

I think it's quite obvious that these studios are getting a FREE WORKFORCE to do a sizable chunk of their production under the guise of artists (SAPS) doing "tests" for them.

I wouldn't put it past them in a minute....those studios.

What a SCAM!

Anonymous said...

^^^^^^^^^^^^
unemployable.

Anonymous said...

Just to let you know, TAG objects to week-long tests. We have no problem with half-day tests, for we know that studios have to check somebody's drawing style against the work in that somebody's portfolio, since people have been known to represent others' drawings as their own.


Isn't that what a RESUME is for?

Maybe if those show runners weren't so busy handing out so many damn tests, they'd be able to make a phone call or two in regards to an applicant's resume/portfolio and find out if the applicant a)worked on the shows listed on the resume, and b)did a good job on said show listed on said resume.

After more than 15 years in this business, the only time I've gotten a job from a test was when I first started out of school and I didn't have any samples in my portfolio of the particular job I was applying for. Test was given, and hey! I got the gig. Since then, it's been a big masturbatory nightmare to bother with a test. I apply for a job, I have samples in my portfolio with a resume. It ain't rocket science to find out if I did the work in the portfolio.

Anonymous said...

what shows have the most complaints about tests, TAG? huh? it would be really f***ing helpful for members to know this information. let's have some transparency and details instead of vague direction and innuendo.

Anonymous said...

I waited for four months to finally get an answer from one studio (a major one). I had the interview, said they will call back in a couple of days. weeks went by. I checked in once a week for two weeks. Then another month, checked in monthly. I only got an answer when I heard from them back when someone else got a rejection. It's not just the job applicant who waits: it's his/her entire family as well. I felt so burned. Being rejected is fine. It's making you wait for months where you feel like a loser.

Anonymous said...

"Jobs result from tests"


I've worked in the industry for 15 years and I have NEVER gotten a job from a test. I have been lured into spending a week doing one half a dozen times in that span, and I will never do another.

You aren't going to get a job submitting a test. It is just a formality the studio is using to make it look like the job was open to the industry. The job is going to a friend of someone inside.

The only time you should consider doing a test, is if you are a personal friend of the producer or director and they ask you.

Other than that, walk away because it is just going to go on a pile and collect dust.

ALSO - I have had this discussion with friends and no one I know has ever gotten a job (in LA) from doing a test.

Anonymous said...

I've prospered in this business for 20 years because I took and did well on a long test. I've taken two others since then, did well with one, failed the other. I've been a supervisor creating and distributing a test. Often, they are judged like the Kobayashi Maru test in Star Trek. They are partially to get a sense of your character when given a task. I agree with Anonymous 8:54 when he says the previous commenter is unemployable. Anyone that angry, anyone who thinks tests are actual production pages passed out for free labor, would not get the job from me. Work ethic counts, character counts. Plenty of people still understand that.

Floyd Norman said...

I've always felt tests were insults and seldom justified. No Plumber, roofer or electrician has ever taken a test to work on my house, and they'd be a damn fool if they did.

Anonymous said...

I give oral tests and get written estimates from my plumbers, electricians, and roofers. In addition, I always test myself before performing a full repair.

jett said...

I've landed jobs from doing tests. I don't like them but I do them. Anon 12:16 is totally right.

Anonymous said...

-------Being rejected is fine. It's making you wait for months where you feel like a loser.


That's RIGHT! They try to make you feel like a loser. Then they can talk you DOWN in pay....since you feel so worthless........IF they ever get back to you.

Anonymous said...

It seems like somebody is not doing the work to follow through with getting back to people who have taken the tests. That makes the ones who hand out the test an unnecessary expense to begin with. They tell you what they think you want to hear: "yes, we'll get back to you in two weeks", and you never hear from them again. Who is allowing them to do this. Is that their job? I dont think so. But they take it for granted that they have free range to pacify you when you are on the outside, and treat you like they are priviledged hotcrap when you are on the inside. That's just the individual pieces of garbage they hire in out of community college. Then there are those above them that allow this weak structure to exsist. Yet again, more unnecessary expense. They are getting fat being lazy instead of running departments, running a studio, making movies. They just want the paycheck. Oh, and their friends who dont have to take tests. Wink wink.
Nobody above them is asking the right questions. How is this place being operated, and how can it be done more efficiently? So that everyone, including applicants, are treated fairly. Too much room for riff-raff. It leads to the demand of unpaid overtime. Umong other things. Like unhappy stressed out workers.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous 8:54 when he says the previous commenter is unemployable. Anyone that angry, anyone who thinks tests are actual production pages passed out for free labor, would not get the job from me. Work ethic counts, character counts. Plenty of people still understand that.


Word on the street used to be that DIC would hand out tests, not hire the people who took the tests, then used said tests as actual production work. So Anon 8:26 may be vociferous, but they may not be entirely wrong, either.

As for work ethic and "character"...taking a test doesn't prove that. It just proves that they're willing to jump through some unnecessary and frankly b.s. hoops to try to get said job.

How about the ethics and character of the jerks who hand out all these tests and won't even give a response, even if it's "no"?

Anonymous said...

"I've prospered in this business for 20 years because I took and did well on a long test."


^If this means that you have worked at the same company for 20 years, then you are wholly unqualified at giving out advice for todays industry.

The more companies one works at, the more valuable they are in this industry. To limit oneself and ride out a job for decades means that you are heading towards a dead end and not developing your skillset more than you need to.

If you have worked at many different companies, then disregard my comments.

Anonymous said...

If taking a test is a production procedure, and someone chooses not to take it or does so with immoderate objection, it only proves one thing about the applicant: he/she can't follow direction.

As a director, I would not want this person on my crew.

Anonymous said...

"I received a board test with a paragraph and some designs and given a week to work out any section I wanted to do, however much I felt it would take to show my work. They told me it was to get a better feel for if my humor was creatively the right fit, that it didn't have to be either on model or cleaned up. Is that too much to ask for a storyboard position?"

Wow, sounds like fun! If all tests were like that, then (almost) no one would be complaining about them.

More common are the tests involving two to three script pages that take a week or more to finish. I have never, to my knowledge, taken a test that turned out to be stealth
production. People do get hired as a result of taking tests, but that doesn't mean the test are necessary, or have to be that long or difficult. I got a job ONCE as a result of a test, (out of 20+ tests). That job lasted two weeks. The best jobs I had were from a combination of portfolio submissions and personal recommendations.

Anonymous said...

"it only proves one thing about the applicant: he/she can't follow direction."


Your direction begins and ends with whether you are paying me or not. When it comes to a weeks worth of work, you
A.) lose the liberty of judging me when my work goes uncompensated
B.) Prove you can't delegate time, because meeting a person face to face and looking at their portfolio takes less time and is a better indicator of talent/sensibilities than reviewing a test.

This town is full of lousy directors, you're one of them with the perspective you just typed out.

Anonymous said...

what shows have the most complaints about tests, TAG? huh? it would be really f***ing helpful for members to know this information.

Since TAG won't say, I'll tell you that Nick gives long tests, and CN has given long tests.

Don't know about all the other studios.

Steve Hulett said...

I've worked in the industry for 15 years and I have NEVER gotten a job from a test.

I know people who've gotten jobs from tests. I know people who take tests and get nothing.

TAG doesn't have a problem with tests of reasonable length, as stated above. TAG has a problem with the non-communication and the high-handedness of studio taking advantage of unemployed artists.

Anonymous said...

FOX gives loooong tests

Anonymous said...

I'm a painter, so I'm not sure if my experience is applicable, but… I've taken tests at both Nick and CN. Got a job at CN from the test. They hired me two days after handing in the test, and no I didn't know anyone there. Got turned down from Nick, but got hired on another show later at Nick. Not sure if storyboard artists have a rougher time.

Anonymous said...

All of the big networks have so many Goddamn interns, I don't see why they can't call the aplpicants and inform them that they didn't get the job and pick up their porfolio or stuff envelopes full of form letters and just address them as necessary. Let's face it, those who did get the gig are notified pretty promptly, It's just those who didn't make it who are not being told in a fair and resonable manner.

I have taken four tests where I did not get the job and I have gotten three jobs based on tests, but none were too long, no more than a day at most.

Nowadays if I don't think the test is reasonable, I'll ask to either adjust it or just not take it at all.

Anonymous said...

If taking a test is a production procedure, and someone chooses not to take it or does so with immoderate objection, it only proves one thing about the applicant: he/she can't follow direction.

As a director, I would not want this person on my crew.


You must have a helluva dysfunctional crew.

Anonymous said...

>>FOX gives loooong tests

Writer/producers like to let artists know who is boss before they get hired. Lots of jobs, but you serve at the mercy of the WGA joke manufacturing machine. I wish I had a dime for every fat white guy masturbating on his laptop with fat white guy zingers.

Anonymous said...

HEY! I'M FAT and need LOTS of dimes!

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