Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Night Prowl

So a little while ago, an artist at one of our fine, entertainment conglomerates (animation division) tells me:

"There's some storyboarders who're in here most weekends, also here working on Wednesday nights. They're here working uncompensated o.t., making sure they hit their schedules. The studio pays the overtime when somebody tells them about the overtime, but mostly this group doesn't. You want to maybe come and check it out? ..."

I tell the artist I will make a nighttime visit. And a couple of days later I do. ...

It's simple to get into the multi-story building. I have a card, and it works the elevator lock and outside magnetic swipe. What it doesn't do is open the doors off the small, upper floor lobby. Normally I call operations and they pop it right open, but late at night (sadly) there is nobody IN operations.

So I plunk down in an uncomfortable chair and wait. Six minutes later, somebody comes up in the elevator, somebody who has a magnetized card. And who recognizes me. He activates a door lock, the door swings open, and I stroll in with him.

Sometimes late-working employees can be a good thing. (When I ask, he says he's being paid to the nighttime labor.)

I wander between rows of cubicles, in search of telltale lights. Here and there I see bright halos, and there are artists under half of them, working at their Cintiqs. My interactions with them go like this:

Me: Hey, hi. How ya doing?

Artist: Oh...good. Really good.

Me: You getting paid for working late?

Artist: Oh ... yeah. Paid. Absolutely.

There's a few more late owls, all of them saying they're being compensated. I think they're lying, but it doesn't matter what the business representative thinks. If the employee/member says they're getting paid overtime, then that's what's happening. Whether it's the truth or not.

I do a circuit of the floor. Most cubes are empty but here and there not. Everybody I encounter claims to be working for cash money, absolutely. I smile, wish them a good night, and move on. I think I'm being lied to, but of course I might be wrong. There's no way to know with certainty.

When I make it back to where I started, I go out to the elevator and down. Another night of fun and frivolity.


2 comments:

F. Kousac said...

Please tell these young artists that future shows and work are based on current numbers. They're screwing themselves and their friends and coworkers in the future. The studios need the artists more than the artists need the studios.

Steve Hulett said...

I tell artists this all the time. Some get it, many don't.

I also say: Everybody needs to put in an honest eight hours. That means not sitting in the cubicle watching YouTube, not wandering around with a coffee cup chit chatting for 2 3/4 hours.

But when a solid eight hours is put in, people should fill out the time card accurately. Don't falsify the document because an overbearing production assistance says "Put down eight." Ask politely if you're being directed to falsify the time card. See what the reaction is.

I mean, we are at record high levels of employment. If artists are STILL afraid they're going to be laid off if they look at a supervisor funny, there will NEVER be a time when they're relaxed about the work situation. I don't worry about it anymore. I do what I can do, and hope that animation studio employees will pay attention to the contract. And be less paranoid.

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