Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Knowing Your Job Classification

We get phone calls about wages from time to time. (Hard to believe, I know.) Lately it's been about minimum rates and overscale rates and wage bump-ups. Just so we're on the same page, here are selected TAG classifications and weekly journey pay rates:

Animator/Designer -- $1,628.56

Assistant Animator/Designer -- $1,393.72

Inbetweener -- $1,178.24

The above samples take in a range of basic Animation Guild salaries. We have ones that are lower, a few that are higher. But these are pretty fair bench marks.

I roll them out now because we are near the end of compiling the market rates of the 2011 Wage Survey, making an appearance here soon. Some anecdotal factoids:

A) Wages are going up for television production board artists -- wage minimums for which are 15% above the "Animator" rate up above. (Artists who specialize in action shows are in demand).

B) Feature animation facilities are working to hold the line on pay rates.

Work pipelines have been changing; some jobs are going away even as others prosper. In television, there are fewer animation checkers and timers. In features, there's not a lot of work for traditional animators. (Startling.)

When people call in asking about wages, many have no idea what their classification is, or what minimum wage-rate they should be receiving. We tell them: "Find out what your classification is, then we can talk."*

The moral of the tale is : Studio employees should review the contract (available on the TAG website), check the minimums there, and know the classification in which they're working. Knowledge is always useful.

* Years back, a studio producing t.v. episodes had a single background artist on a series. He worked as an "Assistant Background Artist." When I questioned the classification, the studio's Human Resources person said: "Oh, he's new, that's why we have him working at the lower rate."

"Fine," I said. "But who is he assisting??"

The H.R. person conceded my point. The studio bumped the employee to "Background Artist."


Anonymous said...

Inbetweeners? There are working inbetweeners?

Steve Hulett said...

Here and there.

But not many.

Anonymous said...

What's a "journey pay rate" and is this for mid level or junior, senior, etc.?

Steve Hulett said...

Journey artist is an artist that has worked in a particular classification for 12-18 months.

He's paid at the "journey rate." ("Journey" is usually thought of as a synonym for "seasoned" or "experienced.")

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification!

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm missing something on the PDF of the Wages but where are TV directors and retake directors for primetime shows, and what are there minimums?

Anonymous said...

Hey Steve,

Are Journey rates automatically triggered once someone hits the milestone to qualify or does someone need to be notified?


Anonymous said...

It's automatic. If your pay doesn't bump up on the first day you become journey, call the union office.

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