Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The Marvel of Animation

Today I worked through Cartoon Network (up against the brow of the Verdugo Mountains) and Disney Television Animation at Frank Wells.

At both places, artists told me they could see that the t.v. animation business is growing and getting busier. The Mouse has Fish Hooks, Inspector Oso, Phineas and Ferb, Jake and the Neverland Pirates plus additional episodes of Mickey' Clubhouse to keep staff busy, Cartoon Network has a half dozen projects, and Warners employs sizable crews on various series and direct-to-video features.

Compared to, say, twenty-four months ago, the conglomerates' studios are veritable beehives. But that's not all ...

There is also Diz Co.'s recent acquisition of Marvel, and the happy prospect of more comic book properties finding their way to animated glory.

"Marvel is very bullish on animation and has fully funded its third 52-episode series," [Eric Rollman, President of Marvel Animation], says. "In the past, we never did that and the great thing about being part of the Disney family is that the company is made up of animators. They respect it and understand that it's animation that drives consumer products, and so our strategic business is the same." ...

"We're a 360-degree entertainment company and we're concentrating on what Marvel does best, which is managing our brands. We understand our characters and have several thousand in the universe that in some way interconnect. So to build these integrated universes but at the time keep them separate is something of an art form ..."

Some years back, when Marvel was starting to roll out direct-to-video animated features, TAG organized the artists working on them, and I got to know Eric Rollman at the time we held the NLRB vote and then -- a short while later -- contract negotiations.

Sadly, Eric let me know that Marvel was operating on a shoe-string and they "just didn't have any money" for better salaries and benefits. More sadly, we were never able to reach agreement on a contract, and the crew was reluctant to strike.

But that was then, and this is now.

Marvel isn't a struggling comic book company anymore, but a subsidiary of the Mighty Mouse. So everything's good. And we look forward to working with Eric R. and the Marvel Group in the future. Nothing could please us more.


Anonymous said...

In the future, who's going to produce Marvel's animated TV properties?

Stan said...

Marvel's budgets at Film Roman are even smaller, plus Film Roman is taking their cut and still those shows manage to be produced as union shows.
You were duped.

Anonymous said...

So you know something we don't?
Everyone I know is making above scale and getting good freelance rates.

Do you think Disney would suddenly roll back salaries to 10 years ago?

Steve Hulett said...

You were duped.

Eric? Dupe ME? ...

(Actually, without the leverage of the crew walking, there wasn't a lot to negotiate with.

You need that .357 Magnum to point at a stubborn producer's head ...)

Anonymous said...

How is anyone being duped? They are a union studio paying union wages (usually above union scale) and do their best , from what I've seen, to make reasonable schedules or at least as good as other studios. But I've never worked at a studio where it was a perfect world. Could schedules be longer? Could pay be higher? Of course. So what's new?
You have a complaint with them taking a cut for overhead and/or profit?
If you can prove they're forcing people to work more than the agreed upon amount of hours have those people talk to Steve.
Do you really think if Disney started to produce Marvel shows that everything would suddenly be hunky dory? Sounds to me like you've never worked at Disney and especially not at DisneyTV.

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