Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Twenty-Year Veteran

Earlier this week I had occasion to gab with a supervisor at one of our fine, signator studios. He's had twenty years of employment in the biz, with side trips working in character merchandising.

He and his spouse have two children, one out of college and the other starting. They're a two-wage family with the wife's cash flow secure, so he's fairly relaxed about the future. He's also confident of his abilities, work ethic, and not worried about keeping his job. What he told me reflects some of the comments in Early Morning Q & A ...

There are people around here who are working uncompensated overtime. Some people are worried about hanging on, and project their fears, and feel they have to kick in extra work if they want to get picked up for the next project. People take work home and work for free, polish the apple so they'll get rehired. There are younger people who do whatever they can to have a leg up for the next project. I don't consider them "wrong" for doing it, but I don't take work home. I think everyone needs to take responsibility for what they do and not play the victim.

But I've never been worried about it. I know what my work ethic is, I know how many drawings I need to get out to supply people in my unit. Some supervisors guess but I do the math, figure out how much work has to be done. There are younger people who take work home and do it for free, polish the apple so they'll get rehired. I've never had a hard time getting a job. The company knows what I can do and appreciates the time and effort I put in. Several years ago I volunteered to fill in for a supervisor who was out sick, and worked seen days a week to do my job and other other supe's. I didn't ask for a higher weekly salary, but I got some paid time off after the projects was done, and that was all I needed.

I have to keep working until my younger kid is through school, but I'm not uptight about coming by more work when I need it ...

I encounter artists who get buried under the workload and schedules, then do extra hours without compensation to keep up. Many are as angry about the system in which they feel trapped as they are fearful about it.

Then I meet people who have learned how to focus on work and streamline the process. Deadlines don't bother them very much, because they have figured out how to be more productive without killing themselves and burning out. They don't put in a lot of o.t. These folks are usually less uptight, more philosophical about the whole "get it in by Friday" routine.

They don't complain much. They also don't seem to be particularly intimidated by management.


Anonymous said...

This is WHY talking to your production supe's and director is very important. I wish more people did this. Bottling up your concerns causes resentment, so voicing it out (for me) was important. Now I know when the 'time crunch' comes I can't do it all based on their preferences. If they choose not to hire me back on the next gig, at least I know I did the best I could without doing unpaid OT and I know I crank out decent work for them. (They've been ok with me when I asked for OT)

(The ones who do work free OT are the recent rehires, one of them admitted to me that he came in one weekend, like it was something to be proud of. Forget filing a grievance for that guy, he doesn't want to nor does he think it's a big deal. 'I can't help you if you can't help yourself.')

Anonymous said...

Young artists have, and will always do that. Thats a given. They feel the need to prove themselves.

But then they learn to be more efficient (or dont, and fail). No point preaching about it too much, it works itself out in the end.

Pete said...

I don't know why anyone would want to move out to California and move their whole family and gamble with these big companies. You get hired and then fired, hired and the fired. What a stupid way to live. Why would you ever do that to yourself and your family. Just so you can say you worked to death to have your name in the credits? The animators need to push for Salary Jobs like at Pixar. Why would you gamble... hoping that you might stay on.... doing so much more work than you get paid for so you look better than the other artist. Those studios have you guys wrapped around their finger. They are just ripping you and your family right off both money and time. And for you people that work for those studios that are doing the ripping off, creating these policies and contracts that end as soon as the movie is over and not getting more work for the artists, I say to you FU#% YOU. How dare you do that to people who are trying to make it through and who have families. I don't know how you animators put up with that. Why... Why would you do that. It's so child like foolish.

Anonymous said...

Wow. What a naive rant.

First, let's set the record straight: Pixar, while stable, is the lowest paying animation studio you can work at. Their animators make 25-30% less than their (just as talented) counterparts at Dreamworks, Disney, Sony, and Blue Sky. Also, instead of laying off their animators between pictures, they give them "unpaid leave of absence," which means, while they are guaranteed a job upon return, they are unpaid (or paid less) during the "down time."

Secondly, Dreamworks animation is extremely stable. Hardly ever any layoffs and consistent, record-breaking films. Overtime is minimal.

Third, no one is out to gamble and make it hard on anyone's families. In fact most people at Disney have been there for decades and are doing just fine. Theres a very small type (think interns and apprentices) who sometimes work off the clock, but the other 99% of the artists or animators works their required hours and goes home to their families (all paid overtime, of course). And Im sure Disney would love to be able to keep on more after a film ends, but the reality is, Disney hasnt had a hit in a while and simply cant afford it. We hate seeing talent go down the street to Dreamworks. There's no grand conspiracy.

You are assuming, overhearing and coming to conclusions about something you clearly know nothing about; bringing your biases to a blog and standing up on a soapbox and preach as if you know better than anyone else; to those of us who use our talent, passion and hard work to entertain people like you.

But thanks for the "FUCK YOU."

Anonymous said...

"Disney ... simply cant afford it. WE hate seeing talent go..."

"We" are obviously a Disney executive. "We" think the rest of us are fools. At least we have some insight, now, about how Disney justifies its actions and policies.

The whole premise that Disney, of all organizations, "can't afford" ANYTHING is science fiction. The least they can do is hire executives
with more imagination, insight and compassion then you apparently have, and re-organize their operating procedures to something more humane.

If your "talent" was as happy at Disney as the talent is at Dreamworks, they wouldn't walk away, would they?

Anonymous said...

"We" is an artist at Disney.

Anonymous said...

Well, to be frank, "We" was an artist and is now part of management. Anytime you have a substantial say in who gets hired and fired, and what kind of work people do, you're part of management.

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