Thinking about the wage piece below and reading about wages at VFX Soldier triggers a story about a TAG member's salary that occurred at Turner Feature Animation back when we all were very young ....
So one bright Spring day, an animator calls me from TFA in Glendale, wanting to know what other animators in his department are making.
It so happens that I have a fat printout of all the wages of TAG members, generously donated to the Guild by the Motion Picture Industry Health and Pension Plan. Quick as a wink, I pull it out and rattle off the salaries of the various animators working at Turner Feature on "Cats Don't Dance.".
And whattaya know? The animator I'm talking to on the phone turns out to be the lowest paid. After a long pause, the guy says: "They told me that nobody was making more than I was."
"Hmmm," I rejoin. "Turns out they're lying."
Another pause. "I think I'm going back and talk to them again."
So he does. And the next day, the animator calls back and says: "I told them I found out I was the lowest paid person in the department. They got mad and asked where I'd heard that. I told them from you."
My heart sings. (Or maybe I'm just getting a sudden case of indigestion.} "Great," I mutter. "Thanks for bringing me in to this."
"No problem. Then they got even madder, yelling that you shouldn't have told me."
"No good deed goes unpunished. But tell me something. Were they embarrassed at all? That you'd caught them lying?"
"No," the animator answers.
And therein lies the tale. The job of studio management is to keep costs down, so they don't consider it lying when they say things like, "Nobody's getting laid off" ... "We're not changing the schedule and there's no budget for overtime" ... or ... "You're making as much as anybody else." even though all those statements are demonstrably false.
Because in Studioland, they aren't lies. They are simply good business practices.