Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Animators of the World ... Unite!

My father started at Walt Disney Productions in 1938 at $15 per week. Thirty-eight years later, I began work in the Disney feature story department at rate of $130. When I left a decade later (1986) I was up to a whopping $40,000 per year.

And in 2008 there is this:

The Japan Animation Creators Association (JAniCA) have set itself up as an unlimited liability intermediary corporation this week to continue its efforts in improving work conditions in the Japanese animation industry.

... 90% of the animators and directors are freelancers, and those who have trouble making ends meet are expected to face increasing hardships as they grow older. In particular, there are veteran creators in their 40s and 50s who are getting by on ... $30,000 (US) a year ...

Roll that figure around on the tip of your tongue a minute. That's $600/week ... $15/hour. That wage wouldn't buy you much of a life style in Los Angeles, and Tokyo's considerably more expensive than L.A.

But it gets scarier:

... One 59-year-old had to cut back due to deteriorating physical health, and now subsists on $1,000 (US) a month. Some of the 59-year-old animator's former colleagues now receive public assistance or are now homeless ...

I'm in my fifties. I read that and think, There but for the Grace of God ... As bad as some situations are here in the Los Angeles animation community, they don't hold a guttering candle to the work realities faced by animation artists in Japan.


Anonymous said...

This should come as news to no one who's done even rudimentary research into the anime industry. Stories abound about animators subsisting on noodles, sleeping under desks because they can't afford housing, and on and on.

Anonymous said...

Maybe if they made more films people wanted to watch, they'd be better off.

Anonymous said...

I don't see their situation getting any better, now that India is posed to do more and more animated production, and now China is gearing up to do the same!


Anonymous said...

That last comment about "if they made more films people wanted to watch, they'd be better off" has to be a poorly misguided (and insensitive) joke. For crying out loud, how much control over the final cut of a film does ANYONE other than the director (and more likely the producer) have?

The only control an animator has is to do the best he/she can...and hope it doesn't get butchered in editing.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe if they made more films people wanted to watch, they'd be better off."

That seems like a very heartless thing to say .

John Celestri's reply above nailed it , plus I'd like to add that by and large the Japanese animation industry does make films that many people want to see. They make animated films in every genre and for every age group/demographic. And I'm not even an "anime" fan , as such . However, I'm continually impressed by the range of subject matter that Japanese animated films cover .

I had heard about the low-wages and no benefits situation before , but until I read the article that Steve linked to I had no idea it was that bad. Hooray for the Japanese animation workers for organizing themselves to improve their conditions.

Anonymous said...

You know, there is something vile about the fact that American animators lose work to animators in other countries just because in THIS country, workers are treated decently. You know, given decent wages and benefits. IMO, networks like Nick who farm work to foreign animation companies ought to be held in the same disdain as those clothing companies who use slave labor to produce their products.

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