Tuesday, August 15, 2006

El Disneyo and Personal Service Contracts

Today a chunk of my eight-hour shift was at Walt Disney Feature Animation... John Lasseter is on vacation; when he returns the studio will hone in on what short-subject it wants to be making (the short subject, I'm told, to be of the hand-drawn variety). And the features in development seem to be moving forward briskly. The "Frog Princess" story crew has had encouraging pitch meetings for Ron and John's hand-drawn project, but any official greenlighting for full production (like animators, like layout artists, like background painters?) is out quite a ways. Several artists asked me about what happens now that Disney is ending its long-time policy of having everybody under Personal Service Contracts. I said I thought the result will be more flexibility for artists -- if they want to exit for a better job, they'll be able to. But the other result will be that wages might be a tad lower, since nobody will be focused on pushing them up during their PSC negotiations. (No more contracts to haggle over; no more automatic bump-ups year over year.) Of course, the company has put the word out that they'll frown on people jumping ship in the middle of a production and "will remember" the treachery of the artist or technician who jumps ship, so woe to him who wants to come crawling back. There's some truth to this, I suppose, but I keep remembering Jack Warner's tirade back when one of his production execs ankled at an inopportune time: "Never let that bastard back in here!... Unless we need him!" More often that not, sooner or later, they need you. Especially if you have a highly-valued, in-demand skill set.


Stone said...

That's interesting, me and a friend (we're both students) took a tour at Disney Deature yesterday as well, while meeting our other friend who is currently an intern there. I gotta say we were blown away by a lot of the incredible work we saw there! Granted, as kids learning about the animation industry we kinda grew up a little jaded by disney's past uhh.. "faults," but everything we've seen and read about Disney in recent months has definately rekindled our love for what they've done and what they CAN do. the stuff for Chris Sander's project had me doing backflips!

Nothing makes me happier and more encouraged about what's going on in the industry (as we're just slowly starting to enter it ourselves) than to read about what's going on behind the scenes in terms of the way the business is being handled. More artist friendly, it seems, and less "cold." But that's purely an observer's opinion.

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