Friday, October 25, 2013

E-Mail ... And a Studio Visit

From a Guild member today (with redactions):

You might want to check up at BLANK on BLANKETY BLANK BLANK from time to time. Most of the storyboard crew is working late nights and at least one day over the weekend for no extra pay or OT. That show is insane.

My reply [with redactions]:


I get complaints regularly from a whole bunch of studios. I’ve told folks repeatedly, “TELL me when you’re working late, I will come to the studio and police it.” When somebody from BLANKETY BLANK BLANK contacts me, I’ll come a-running.

(Last place I came in unannounced – on a Saturday – was BLANKER BLANK at BITTY BLANK. People on the crew contacted me, and I met with them off site, and we concocted a plan, after which I took action. [Everybody got paid.] Could do the same with other shows, but people have to contact me. Then we’ll meet and formulate a plan.

Hope this helps.

Steve H.

By coincidence (or not) I got a number of complaints from board artists at another studio just this past Wednesday. Their gripes: The schedules are too short, the amount of work too great, and many of them have to stay late and/or on weekends to get the work done. [Are we detecting a theme here?]

I said: "Are you filling out the time cards correctly? Like putting down all the hours you work? Because it's against California law to do otherwise."

Head shakes all around.

"Why not?"

"Because ... ahm ... management says there's no money in the budget for o.t. And we want to come back for the next season. And we need to hit the dealine."

I said: "So, you're out of compliance with accurate time records, the company kinda sorta knows it, but nobody does anything. Does it occur to you that you're digging your own graves here? Because the more work you do for free, the more they expect?"

"We don't want to be laid off."

"I get that. But if everybody rolls over then everybody will get screwed. And go right on getting screwed. And you go on busting your ass to make your boards as good as possible, and you work twelve or fifteen or twenty extra hours to turn the boards in on time with all the extra drawings you get to create on the Cintiq to semi-animate the scene, and then the company cuts a bit more of the schedule. So here's my idea. When you're working late or on the weekend, call me and let me know. I'll come over, take names, be the bad guy. And file a grievance with the company. And you'll all get paid and maybe the company will alter its behavior just a little. Just let me know."

I got some grunts and shrugs. But so far, no phone calls. We'll see what happens, but I'm not holding my breath.


Oswald Cox said...

Working free overtime and compensating for a productions scheduling shortcomings will not get you asked back for a second season.

Counter intuitive as it may be, you'll be left out in the cold for someone else BECAUSE of the long hours you've put in. Every time they look at you they will know that you've sacrificed for them and thats not a good feeling to have about someone you work with. In short, it will be easy for them to rationalize not having you around.

Its human nature, and David Mamet encapsulated it eloquently in a conversation from his movie "The Spanish Prisoner":

Don't work the overtime. Do the best you can with the hours they have and tell them the ball is in their court.

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