Tuesday, December 26, 2006

End of Year Studio Overview

So here's a quick end-of-year look at recent happenings in and around a selection of L.A. studios...

At Warners, they wait for the new series to start, also the move from Sherman Oaks back to Burbank...

At Disney Toons, they wait for the remodel of the second floor of the Sonora Building, the final shipment of scenes for Little Mermaid III, overseas, the next turn in development of the long-gestating Tinkerbell. Division top-kick Sharon Morrill announces to staff that the DVD sales of Fox and the Hound II exceeded company expectations by 25%.

At Disney Television Animation, Mickey's Clubhouse and Emperor's New School get pick-ups and rehire crew, My Friends Tigger and Poohwraps up and waits to go on the air. (Most of DTVA is now headquartered on the remodeled first floor of the Disney Sonora building in Glendale.)

At Disney Feature Animation 160 staffers (117 of them under TAG's jurisdiction) get notified of impending layoffs on December 11 and 12; TAG and the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health Plans hold informational meetings a couple of weeks later. One Disney veteran says to me ruefully: "New management said in those first big meetings we had, 'We're not here to downsize, nobody's getting laid off' but here we are. Getting laid off."

As he talks, I think back to the meetings with Tom Schumacher and Peter Schneider a half-dozen years before, when the same things were said, and then? Downsizing.

Lesson here? Sometimes management misrepresents, sometimes management gets caught in the same changing dynamics that staff does. Stuff happens. And then today's assurances of job stability become tomorrow's pink slips. Companies are not families. When there is no work they put their "children" up for adoption.

At DreamWorks, Jeffrey Katzenberg tells reporters (one of whom tells me), "I've got no intention to sell DreamWorks Animation. I'm not Steve Jobs with some other company besides Pixar to run."

At Starz Media/Film Roman, more Simpsons television artists still move down to the feature version on the first floor, overtime continues, and production continues to accelerate. The feature should complete its first pass in the production pipeline early in the new year. Then of course, revisions commence (even as Simpsons writers continue to revise on their end...

And we hope your New Year will be a good one...


Anonymous said...

Well said, Steve.

This animation old timer remembers when management says, "there'll be no layoffs or downsizing," it's time to start packing.

A colleague of mine always kept a packing box in his office to continually remind him that all jobs are temporary.

Anonymous said...

This animation old timer remembers when management says, "there'll be no layoffs or downsizing," it's time to start packing.

Like you, I've been around long enough to know assurances of no layoffs are always non-binding. Twelve years back, right after a major down-size at Warner Bros. Animation, an artist told me: "Execs came around two weeks ago and said everybody's job was safe. The only time I worry is when they make a point of telling you your job is safe."

The only job security anyone has is their talent and work ethic.

Anonymous said...

Yes, this should be the first thing they tell the kids at animation school.

It seems like when times are good and everything is actually going well there is never any reason to go around telling the staff : "don't worry , your jobs are secure" , but sure enough when there are going to be layoffs coming that's the line management will pull out of mothballs (especially during a crunch time when if any of the artists were to leave early it would negatively impact the production schedule).

As Floyd says, whenever they start telling you to feel secure it's time to start packing and looking for a new job.

Anonymous said...

s.r. hulett said...
"The only job security anyone has is their talent and work ethic."

Don't forget to add "kissing butt/brown nosing and going to lunch" with your Lead/Sup for job security! :)

Steve Hulett said...

Don't forget to add "kissing butt/brown nosing and going to lunch with your Lead/Sup for job security!

I've been around long enough...and seen enough to know that enters into it, too.

Anyone who thinks it's a pure meritocracy is deluding themselves.

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