The testing issue just never goes away.
A month ago, a board artist at one of our fine entertainment conglomerates, who was working on a show that was wrapping up, said to me:
"We're all done with this series in a few weeks. And we're all taking tests to get on the next one. The tests they're asking the crew to cover three and a half pages of script ..."
Three or three and a half typed pages pencil out to a week's worth of work, give or take. When I heard about this, I went to H.R. and ranted about the abuse being visited on production staffers.
I pointed out:
1) Artists have to pour their hearts and souls into work that may or may not result in a job, and do it gratis. For a week.
2) Studios already employing board artists shouldn't require those board artists to take a week-long test to get another job on another show. They already know the artists' capabilities.
3) If an actor or writer or (God help us) production manager was up for a job, it's doubtful the prospective employer would ask the candidate to come in for a week and work free-of-charge to show "how he handled the assignment."
This has been an issue for a decade or more, but (amazingly enough) back when I started as business rep, tests were minimal. Portfolios and maybe a short drawing test were considered sufficient to secure work.
More innocent times, I guess.
Long tests became the norm back in the nineties, and TAG (naturally enough) started complaining about it. Each time we complained, studio reps listened, nodded their heads in agreement, and said that "something had to be done."
And something was done. For a few months. Then new show-runners would wheel into town and initiate new week-long tests. No studio administrators would say boo about it. Then we would start complaining again.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
This time around, the studio in question has agreed to reduce board tests by 40%. We'll see how long the reduction lasts.