Thursday, June 29, 2006

Studio Morale

Over the years I've developed a theory about the general morale in the studios I visit... EVERY cartoon studio has artistic staff that you can divide into three groups: 1) The happy, 2) the unhappy, and 3) those who weave between content and discontent. EVERY studio has all three sets of employees at any given moment (and subsets within those larger sets). You can tell how the studio is faring by which of the three groups is the largest...and the smallest. The most miserable staffs I can remember during my time as business rep are: The Warners Feature Animation staff in the mid nineties, when then-Warner Prez Bob Daley was looking at lots of feature pitches and could not make up his mind about which project he wanted to greenlight. Walking through the place, you could FEEL the air hissing out of the hope/optimism balloon... And Disney Feature Animation in 2001-2002. They were at the tail end of doing hand-drawn animation. Almost everyone working on "Home on the Range" had been told in meetings when their assignment was done, so they were vividly aware that their Disney feature careers were ending. When I walked through the studio, it was like going through a cancer ward. People wore grim, hollow-eyed looks. There was an abundance of cryptic humor. Five years later, the mood at DFA is 180 degrees from the mind-set of 2001. What a difference a couple of regime changes make. And Warners Feature Animation? It doesn't exist.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, artists love to bitch, don't they? It's part of the dance we do with management. I recall guys bitching even when times were good.

I must confess the last few years under Eisner and Stainton were particularly depressing. So much so that I had to get out of there. I was lucky to spend my last years at Pixar where the atmosphere was more like Disney use to be.

The good news is, things are looking up. There's even talk of getting out of that ugly "Hat Building." Bravo!

Steve Hulett said...

The morale at Filmation right at the end was also gloomy. But I didn't cite Filmation because the end was so swift that maybe it doesn't count.

I mean, when the executioner's blade is hissing down, you're always REAL depressed. But the depression is short-lived.

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