A commenter asks:
... Say, the next time you have the ears of studio executives do you think you could use the time to impart upon them that they're killing their board artists with insanely long scripts, unreasonable deadlines and moronic "leadership"? Just a thought.
And I respond ...
Insanely long scripts come about because of incompetence and/or indifference on the part of studio management.
Anybody who's been working in animation for ... oh ... eight months or more knows how many script pages it takes to create a twenty-two minute production board. But writers, show runners and producers don't care that scripts are too long because they can always cut them after boarding in the animatic. (Many show-runners, you see, don't want to make a decision about what to cut until their prose is visualized and they can see the gags and dialogue on screen.)
And the companies humor them because production board artists have the same schedules and deadlines whether the script is twenty-two minutes or forty-two minutes. Whether there are six characters or six hundred. And if the artists kill themselves to get the boards in on time, who really gives a fuck? Certainly not the guys at the top. And certainly not the studio accountants. They're paying the same money for a low-character script that is twenty-two minutes as they do for something with a cast of thousands and running time slightly shorter than Gone With the Wind.
So where is Your Faithful Servant in all this?
I'm out there in the studios listening to the complaints, telling people I'm happy to file grievances if they are working uncompensated overtime and not getting paid. (Few want to rock the boat because fear -- sometimes justified and sometimes not -- is rampant.)
To the board artists who work "On Call," (no additional compensation Monday through Friday, time and a half on Saturday or Sunday) I say don't agree to work On Call, because the contract requires agreement.
And for those who have to work On Call because it's a requirement for getting the gig in the first place, I say, "Work at nine percent over the minimum rate, because OC is triggered at ten percent."
(There are few takers for that strategy either, since whether a board artist is On Call or not, the schedule is the schedule and there's always a production manager snarling: "We need it by next Tuesday and there's no money in the budget for overtime.")
So where does that leave overworked artists? Sadly, right where they were twenty years ago when I was a young biz rep and the exact same problems came up on Tiny Toons. (My, but how times haven't changed, except now everybody is overworked on Cintiqs.)
The solutions are the same as they've always been. It's important for artists to communicate with management when the schedule is ridiculous; it's important for artists to know their rights and not violate the contract by working uncompensated o.t.; it's important to allow the union rep to file grievances when and where necessary. For those who say "Well, I'll get my butt fired if I push back," I will again relate this Warner Bros. Animation story from twenty years ago:
A young Tiny Toons production manager was running around telling artists "We gotta ship tomorrow! Can you help us out?" (Meaning no o.t., just work for free.)
All the young artists agreed to do it and in fact did it. Then the production manager came to Glenn Vilppu, (then as now talented and amiable). And he when asked to "help out," Glenn said:
"Sure, I'd be happy to. You're paying overtime, right?"
The production manager, caught off guard, stammered no, they weren't. And Glenn shook his head sadly and replied that since that was the case, he couldn't do the work to help out, so sorry.
Remarkably enough, Glenn continued working at Warner Bros. Animation, and even continued in the industry. ...
The moral to this story: We all have to find our own way along the footpaths of this wretched, fallen world. As Your Faithful Servant, I make it my job to right what wrongs I can, and light a few small candles along the way.
Hopefully I won't drip too much wax.