Saturday, July 23, 2011

TV Animation

USA Today reports from the Con::

... Futurama's season finale will feature three different cartoon formats ...

... Simpsons' executive producer Al Jean said the show's writers have no specific concept for a finale episode. ...

In Family Guy's season opener, "lottery fever hits Quahog and the Griffins strike it rich," creator Seth MacFarlane said. He [also] said there will be a Family Guy movie

What I can tell you about T.V. animation is, there's a lot of squeezing of schedules, and much pressure put on the artists working in it.

The standard mantra (more or less) is: "We don't have money in the budget for overtime."

It's assumed that employees will hit their deadlines come hell or high water, and not bother production managers' beautiful minds with icky things like authorization requests for extra hours. If more time is needed, the expectation is that everybody will do it on their own hook.

And many fulfill that expectation.


Mark Mayerson said...

I don't care about Family Guy one way or the other, but the lottery idea reminds me of the Roseanne sitcom doing the same thing. That was the death knell for that show and I wonder if won't mean the same thing for Family Guy.

Anonymous said...

^Let's hope so.

A Family Guy movie? Well, families won't go to see it, the way they did the Simpsons movie. Seth better hope enough college kids haven't tired of the show by now to give the film some decent box-office. I for one won't go to see it.

Anonymous said...

Nice way to support your fellow union members.
Makes me glad I'm out of this business once and for all.

Anonymous said...

We as a collective HAVE to do something about the free-overtime thing. It's become entirely too much of an industry-wide problem for only a few artists to stick their necks out and possibly lose their jobs to handle, much less fix.

The problem is only going to get worse the longer management gets away with this.

Steve Hulett said...

I've made multiple suggestions re the problem:

1) I'm willing to show up at any work place, weekends or nights, do walk throughs, play the "bad guy", and file appropriate grievances. Just shoot me a phone call of e-mail.

2) Collective action: I know of t least one big-time, high profile show where the department sticks together and doesn't do unpaid overtime. And management doesn't mess with them.

(At the same time, another department, thirty feet away, does free o.t. as a matter of course.)

3) Refuse to work "on call." There are two ways to do this, but the easiest is to work for a slightly lower weekly rate (100%-109% of scale.)

As always, I stand ready to pitch in and do my bit. Just contact me.

Anonymous said...

I dont know... re: free overtime. seems like small potatoes. If all TAG members (2000 or so strong?) could get together-- make a statement, a contract amendment-- it'd make more of an impact. It has gotten out of hand.

Also, why not name names of the offending productions? Call them out on the carpet?

Anonymous said...

"Also, why not name names of the offending productions? Call them out on the carpet? "

Exactly. Pressuring employees to work free overtime (and falsifying time cards) is not just against the Guild contract it's a violation of Federal Law , is it not ?

Anonymous said...

make a statement, a contract amendment-- it'd make more of an impact. It has gotten out of hand.

It's already IN our contract. All it requires is that a crew stand together and let Steve file a grievance. New contract language isn't going to help people grow balls.

And having Steve "naming names" when the actual union members won't stand up and do anything about it just gives the offending studios the chance to paint the TAG business agent as whining and ineffectual. And who is he "naming names" to? Is the media going to run with this story? Doubtful. If they did, would the companies suddently start paying the OT? Why should they?

Anonymous said...

'And who is he "naming names" to?'

He could name it to the membership here, who would be better warned before taking a job at an offending studio.

Seriously, why would any artist choose ignorance over enlightenment?

Anonymous said...

Let's say 'Studio A' plays by the rules, and 'Studio B' doesn't.

I'd take a job for slightly lower pay at Studio A. Let's get the real terms and conditions out in the open. And also, let's level the playing field for those studios who play by the rules.

Anonymous said...

Previous two posters are exactly right. Naming names might not change the world, but it could potentially hinder the offending productions' hunt for new talent, as well as encourage current staff to leave for greener pastures.

At the very least, it'd keep me from wasting my precious time doing an overlong test for a production that I'm unaware is a living hell. Heaven forbid that I should have access to that kind of info.

Anonymous said...

In my experience, any and every TV production sometimes 'plays by the rules', and sometimes doesn't.More often than not, the artist will rather put in some extra hours in order to not 'rock the boat' or call attention to themselves as someone who couldn't meet the deadline. Shouldn't-but it's common.
In the case of real deadline crunches, a talk with the line producer will often result in approved OT, even when you're previously told they can't afford it. Maintaining a good working relationship with one's crew has usually produced reasonable results for me.
Of course there are scary exceptions-and I've got my own list of horror stories.

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