Friday, July 18, 2014

The More Things Change ...

Etcetera. (From my interview with animator/director Don Lusk, who is now 100 years old):

... Steve Hulett: How did you happen to come to the Disney Studio in ’33?

Don Lusk: I was out looking for work. I’d taken set design and costume design, and all the studios were laying people off. And I was flying home after my last hope, and I was on Hyperion, on my way back to Glendale. And I saw the sign “Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphonies.” So I jammed on the brakes, parked at the curb, and went into the entry office.

And who was there but Mary Flanigan. She was a great gal. She ended up running the cafeteria at the new studio. She was so nice to me, because I didn’t have any cartoons in my portfolio. I had gone to Chouinards, and Don Graham [one of Chouinard’s teachers] helped Ben Sharpsteen go over our portfolios. Don had been one of my favorite instructors, and he recognized my name and put me on tryout for two weeks.

But after I was there for four days, they put me on the payroll.

Steve Hulett: So you worked for free for four days.

Don Lusk: Yeah. And it could have been two weeks. ...

If you follow things around here you know that this small piece is from a longer audio interview I did with Mr. Lusk eight or nine months ago. But I was transcribing the audio last week and this (again) jumped out at me.

Today, eighty years after Don Lusk's free tryout took place, we face the same conundrums in animation studios that were encountered way back when. Only now, cartoon managers don't have artists come in and sit at a desk and show off their chops for no money. It's done by phone and over the internet.

The applicant is given model sheets, several panels of a storyboard, and one or maybe four pages of a script. And told to board away, and "have fun with it."

And the work usually takes anywhere from three to six days to complete. Much sweat and nervous energy is expended, and at the end of the test, a director or committee reviews it and makes a judgment about hiring the applicant or not.

We've made some progress since 1933, but this isn't an area that envelopes much of it.


Unknown said...

I remember several (about 5) people I knew taking storyboard/layout tests. Not only did none of the people get hired (including myself), but they used the layouts/storyboards for production.

Live and learn.

Steve Hulett said...

If you have proof that they're using your test, you (we) have an action.

Floyd Norman said...

Man, am I ever a member of a dying breed. I've never taken a test and never will.

Hell, even Disney paid us a salary while we were trying out for a position as inbetweener.

Steve Hulett said...

Didn't happen for Don Lusk in '33. Times were a wee bit looser then.

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