Thursday, April 11, 2013

Disney Animation Layoffs

This hit the whirling fan of breaking news yesterday.

As Disney's stock was touching another all-time high on Wednesday, about 150 employees at the conglomerate's filmed entertainment segment were getting word that their services were no longer needed.

The pink slips, insiders say, weren't unexpected, as published reports that began to surface last week indicated they were coming, and because word was out that CEO Robert Iger was looking for efficiencies and cost-cutting measures in areas where digital technologies were reshaping businesses, such as in home entertainment. ...

So who, exactly, is being slipped the axe? The L.A. Times reported:

... Disney declined to comment on the specific number of personnel affected. According to a 2012 filing with the Securities Exchange Commission, the company had 166,000 employees at the end of its last fiscal year. ...

Everybody suspected that Disney's animation departments were going to see cuts; nobody knew the specifics.

Yesterday TAG and the IATSE got some specifics from Disney Labor Relations. Walt Disney Animation Studios (a.k.a. Disney Feature) will be laying off nine veteran animators/artists, some of whom have been at the House of Mouse for decades.

I haven't talked to the artists getting pink slips, but this lay off has got to be wrenching. To be separated from a studio where you've spent a huge part of your working life is never easy. The questions Will I find new work? Will other studios be interested in what I have to offer? will be hanging there like thunderheads as they walk out the studio gates.

One consoling thought: There is life after Disney. Other artists have found this to be a fact; it will be true for this talented group as well.

(Just ask John Lasseter.)

Add On: Surviving hand-drawn animators have been called to meetings to discuss wage cuts and/or buyouts. Guess we'll wait to see where the downsizing ends.

10 comments:

mark pudleiner said...

Once the dust settles, the artists exiting the studio may actually find that moving on only creates new opportunity, ... pushing you as an artist to explore and grow.

New relationships with new artists and studio managements { that manage differently } can very much add to the thought, there isn't just life after Disney, But There is a Better life after Disney :-)

Good luck to those being allowed to take all their decades of experience somewhere else as they go positively forward. And congratulations to the new companies that will be benefiting from this.

Kenneth Elliott said...

I fear that these long time veteran animators, those who have been with Disney for decades, will leave the company and then disappear off the radar forever. For example, when Glen Keane left the Mouse House to pursue his own project, I have not heard a word about his whereabouts.

Steve Hulett said...

Morale among some veterans has been bad for awhile. ANd the dust hasn't fully floated back to earth ...

Celshader said...

@Kenneth Elliot - for what it's worth, Glen Keane's name appeared as "consultant" in the credits of Adam and Dog.

Melba Toast said...

I was laid off from Disney TV in 1992. It was devastating. Alas, I went downhill from there, and joined Warner's TV Animation and went on to win three Emmys with the Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain crew. Alas, Disney was the be all ans end all. Too bad I wasn't able to work on Bonkers. Oh yeah... also was nominated for an Annie against Toy Story for directing a three minute short making fun of The Lion King. Life after Disney? Nah.

Melba Toast said...

PS: I'm Liz Holzman... Not trying to be mysterious.

Diablo said...

as if we needed more proof that 2d is dead....

Grant said...

or that anyone cares.

Jim Miles said...

As an animation fan, hearing some of the names attached to this is heartbreaking. The writing was on the wall when Andreas Deja and Glen Keane departed, but it's still tragic. I remember what a great character Nik Ranieri's Charlotte was in PRINCESS AND THE FROG, and I am very sad.

I am an MBA student and keep hoping when I graduate, I could find a way to revitalize hand-drawn animation.

suzbinky said...

I'm actually putting together an HOA (Google Hangout) about traditional hand-drawn animation to teach to middle schoolers. We want them to each make a cell with a photo background in class, and want the true artists to visit with them online. There is so much lost with the newer cold ways. I say this as a mother, fan of Chuck Jones and the like from that era.

If any of you have suggestions of who might be interested in this type of event after the holidays, please let me know. susan at susanfinch dot com

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