Wednesday, September 22, 2010

An Overtime Tale

You'll love this.

Recently at one of our fine conglomerates, one of the employees was asked to "stay late" and get some extra work done.

She said that was fine, but she would need authorization to do overtime. Whereupon the authorization was given ...

So the employee set to work doing the job. But 40 minutes into it, a manager came to her cubicle and said:

"There's been some miscommunication. We don't want you to do the overtime after all."

Whereupon the employee stopped.

Some time later, a manager came to her again. And asked (again) for her to "work late." And again she asked for overtime authorization.

This time the response was: "Uh. On second thought, don't stay late."

(When this story was related to me last week, I said "Sure they don't want you to do the overtime. Because you keep asking for overtime. You're supposed to just knuckle under and do it for free."

She's still there working, by the way.)

Cute tale, no?



Anonymous said...

In a cruel world, when there's more people jobless out there hungry for a job, she might get laid off sooner or later and be replaced by someone else.

Of course unless she is irreplaceable.

Anonymous said...

QUestion---is a business with 70,000 employees considered a "small business?"

Anonymous said...

Her fate is sealed.

Anonymous said...

The Ashhole of a manager should be held accountable for pulling that off: "Uh. On second thought, don't stay late." The Ashhole should be fired. The Ashhole should be humiliated and made an example of. That would be

Anonymous said...

EVERYONE gets replaced eventually today and works intermittently project to project. So

(1) it is irrelevant what her answer is. some 'managers' will always fish for suckers, sometimes they pull it off. she will eventually be laid off with the rest of the crew, no earlier or later. everyone gets periodically shoved off the books. they borrow us from the union, MPIHPP is our boss

(2) the manager doesn't give enough of a shit to remember her name b/c he is perpetually forced to hire and lay off crew. so she has nothing to worry about with either answer she gives. again, irrelevant.

she can work extra hours if she feels like throwing the dude a bone, or she can tell him to f off when she has a date. she loses her job movie to movie, show to show anyway. cute story though.

Anonymous said...

Does this sort of thing happen anywhere else besides that main "fine conglomerate" that seems to always be the source of shennanigans like this?

Steve Hulett said...

The "work free overtime" goes on at every major t.v. animation studio.

It varies from show to show. Some show-runners are enlightened, others not. The unenlightened do things that include the following:

1) Overlong scripts.

2) Too-short schedules.

3) Multiple changes to rough boards, complex layouts with lots of pencil mileage, etc.

It's mostly a problem for board artists. But it hits everyone to a greater or lesser degree. Some shows are better than other shows.

the pope's granny panties said...

She's got balls. I like her!

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a strong person. I wish I had that kind of nerve. She should become the Union President because she really gets thing done. Wow.

Anonymous said...

I think what helps is that this blog repeatedly goes over the issue, and the point is sticking with more and more artists. They have to realize where they are at and that they do have a say in the matter. So keep on posting these necessities, and you'll hear more stories like this.

pappy d said...

Budgets & schedules are the responsibility of the producer. A poor producer NEEDS a sense of his own personal inadequacy if he can't make enough time & money happen. He may even believe that he's smart for externalising costs to his crew or to small children who have to watch this piece of product.

By the time we were in high school, we knew that some artwork belongs on the door of the fridge & some doesn't. We improve by developing both our skills & our critical faculties.

I wish every animation professional would look into the mirror & say: "I'm not a magical elf who 'gives good wrist' while the world is sleeping. I am an artist!"

Anonymous said...

_Budgets & schedules are the responsibility of the producer.

Exactly who is this wizard creative people conveniently call 'Producer' who has this big magic bag of time and money and who shoots fireballs out of his arse when notes are too heavy and talent too few and far between. I'd like to meet this convenient scapegoat.

Anonymous said...

Need a creative solution for this since this has been going round and round for years

HOw about 5 % "free overtime" to be used up monthly .. beyond which it's paid

We use this on creative retakes. it acknowledges a little bit of flexibility due to the imperfections of the production process, while placing a limit on it which is not onerous. It gives a good defense for artists "I already did the 5% courtesy, so there shouldn't be a problem billing beyond this" and gives producers a little bit of leeway before a confrontational situation

Because whatever goes on now (all or nothing, war or surrender) certainly is broken

Anonymous said...

As an animator and an artist you never want to turn in something you know can be better if you just give it a little more time. So you wind up doing free hours for the sake of your scene to be the best it can without the hours being ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

You always want to do the "best job" you can and I for one do not always want to do OT, but if I have to do should be paid for it!

Anonymous said...

"Exactly who is this wizard creative people conveniently call 'Producer' who has this big magic bag of time and money and who shoots fireballs out of his arse when notes are too heavy and talent too few and far between. I'd like to meet this convenient scapegoat."

Assuming you are serious and not just being provocative just for the fun of it, I will attempt a serious answer.

There is no "wizard" or individual responsible. It's more of a frame of mind, a management, or micro-management psychology that has taken root in recent years, and is being exacerbated by the state of the economy and subsequent state of the labor market.

It doesn't take a wizard to plan a sensible, practical budget for a project, just a realistic understanding of the process, its costs, and potential overruns. Supervisors in large corporations, rather than leaving well enough alone, seem to be acting as if it were their job to micro-manage these budgets presumably to safeguard the profit margins, even though the actual profits may not be known for months or even years. So, they cut everything they can, staff, schedules, overtime, etc. to impress their employers. It's almost as if it were some kind of reality show competition.

It sometimes seems like they resent having to pay artists to create what is essentially an art form, albeit a commercial art form, or that we were being ridiculously overpaid and taking advantage of our employers.

It's a point of view, and, thankfully not all employers have it. I used to drive a taxicab in NYC. There were some passengers that were so full of stories of cab drivers ripping off tourists that they were convinced that we were all thieves. It didn't matter if you were going straight up an avenue, they were suspicious that you were doing something dishonest. Artists, especially now, have nothing to gain and everything to lose by not doing the hardest best days work they are capable of. The resentment coming from the feeling of being exploited can only be detrimental to the quality of the work. Wise management is aware of that.

Anonymous said...

"We need to spend more money" is just not a phrase that people in general will entertain today on any level, in any position. The story is unremarkable.

Anonymous said...

What the hell does that mean? We're talking about enough money, not "more." We're talking about being realistic.

Try going to a car dealer and saying, "The economy is bad so I'm cutting my new car buying budget. You'll have to sell me that car for less." See what happens. Cars cost what cars cost and animation costs what animation costs. Cutting corners arbitrarily ultimately means exploiting people, quid pro quo.

I love this hypocritical political narrative that "spending" is in and of itself, a vice, (except for war, of course, and other expenses your side approves of).

pappy d said...

I didn't mean to make a moral judgement on producers. The management team of any publicly-traded corporation has a responsibility to maximise profits for the benefit of shareholders. Since it is both a moral & a legal obligation on the executives, it's a more compelling principle for living than "Do unto others..." & more profitable in the short term.

A business corporation has a duty to maximise profit by externalising cost. In animation, you pretty much have to externalise cost to:

a) the Artist (she subsidises the quality of the work by free OT, taking pay cuts, etc.) or,

b) the Consumer. This was a popular business plan in the 70's. TV kidvid had been mandated by Congress & filled the less-desirable time slots on Saturday a.m. It kept the consumer (i.e., kids) in front of the TV between the higher-quality animated sugared-cereal commercials where the profits were generated. Kids might have complained, but then they would be wasting political capital with their parents which they could be using to nag them for goods they had seen on the TV ads. At the studios, "Shitty-up!" was the order of the day. We all made good money (with high-footage bonuses) & union benefits. We all went home at six o'clock & then drank ourselves unconscious.

Anonymous said...

"A business corporation has a duty to maximise profit by externalising cost."

Sounds fishy. Can we have a citation for that? By "duty," do you mean law? Which law?

I think you are confusing profit with profit MARGIN. Does profit margin or cost efficiency increase the value of a corporation in the market place? Can you demonstrate that?

How about maximizing profit with growth, higher sales and greater market share? That's what investors want, not cost-center micromanagement and internal cannibalization. Yes, being profligate with company resources will eventually drive it to destruction, but the company must invest in the kind of talent and procedures that will consistently produce the highest quality product or the company will fail anyway.

You sound curiously like a Disney executive. The logic sounds familiar. The majority of Disney stock is held by Disney employees. Every time an artist is laid off, there is a "Ka-ching" in an executive office.

Anonymous said...

Companies experience diminishing returns as their market share approaches total saturation. The larger size of the market leader(s) reduces the ability to innovate and offset increasing liabilities. The lions share of investment is hereafter applied to protecting market share, externalizing costs, and suppressing competition.

Disney is definitely a perfect example. But, like governments, the clock doesn't get turned back once that ship has sailed. I wouldn't wait up for your 'double rainbow all the way!' Simple math will not allow it. Spend all you want on innovation, conglomerate company culture will attack it like white blood cells on a virus. Foreign object - must suppress and destroy.

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