Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Tough Times, Part Whatever

The L.A. Times notes how moviedom's high-priced talent is suffering (poor babies):

David Fincher used to make $8 million to $10 million per picture, along with a nice piece of first-dollar gross, as an A-list director. But he's taking considerably less money -- and no first-dollar gross -- to get his new Sony Pictures film, "The Social Network," off the ground.

But forget about live action directors. How are their animation brethren doing?

Not super great, actually. As a veteran teevee director informed me at last night's membership meeting ...

"The last show I got laid off from was brutal. Nine months long, and they work you as hard as they can, and pay you as close to minimum as they can. By the time you're close to the end, everybody's dragging. It's hard to keep up the pace they want and keep the quality they want, especially with all the changes they insist on.

"The only way some of my friends get anything out of the producers is by threatening to quit, and not many people have the courage to threaten, not in this work environment. Everybody worries about getting the next job ..."

The various meetings I've been in lately, artists complain about how work cycles are shorter and more intense. Twelve months shrink to nine months, and nine shrinks to six. The relaxed three-month gig has now been whittled down to a frantic six weeks.

In many respects, animation has morphed into the live-action model: slam bam, seventy-hour weeks, then boom!. It's the unemployment line, and if you're lucky, next month you pick up some freelance timing or board work and hope for the best. (And as more than one live-action rep told me in Florida last week: "We've got forty percent unemployment right now... we're getting hammered.")

So Mr. Fincher, move over. You've got nothing on the animation community.


Anonymous said...

Showrunners and scribes should be required by law to do stand up and understand exactly what 'getting it right the first time' means. Put a little fear in their gut to stop relying on the ol' animation pipeline to test market their product. Would make the process a whole lot more enjoyable for everyone. Certainly less expensive. Hear that, Rupert?

Anonymous said...

Stand ups workshop their acts all the time. They hone the same short set for a year. You have no idea what the heck you're talking about.

Anonymous said...

Just sayin' that folks up top need to keep their wits sharp in down markets. Soft and stale days of fat budgets are long gone. You'd be amazed at how quickly you can spin out the real funny when you get feedback that matters and you have to make every dollar earned at the door count. As a bonus, you earn some balls back to counter shite studio notes.

Adjust accordingly and get back into the fray with the real world.

Anonymous said...

And most of them are so bad they resort to "writing" tv animation.

Anonymous said...

The posting is about artists. Why are we talking about writers? At least the producers have some respect for writers. They know they can't write the shows themselves. The writers don't go until the studio goes, or the shows themselves.

It's the artists who keep getting screwed. In a profession built on artwork, the producers are constantly contriving ways to get more for less.

Anonymous said...

don't draw on a show where the art doesn't matter - ie, writer/producer shows. you will die a long, slow, painful death. i still watch the simpsons without looking up at the television. i don't think matt even looks at his own drawings. i think he prefers that you don't.

Anonymous said...

That's the stupidest thing I've ever read in my life. I hope the producers appreciate your coming to their defense. Try it the opposite way; turn off the sound and watch the animation. I bet you will be surprised.

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