Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hey, board artists!

So, the strike's coming, but it doesn't affect 839 because... well, quite frankly, 839 is cheaper than the WGA.

That's it, really.

Don't think for a minute that what I do is any different than Family Guy or the Simpsons (not quality, I'm just saying process). It isn't.

I open up final draft, I type, I hand to a talented artist and it becomes a cartoon.

The only difference is, I'm paid once, out of my salary, and then the money is done.

So let me ask you this: And it's hypothetical. You, board artists and directors, believe you are cartoon writers (and I don't disagree.)

There's a union that represents WRITERS - and they rep writers on prime time shows that probably make 5x what you make... AND they get residuals.

In an open playing field, would you:

1) Fight for change within 839 and hope that, like other writers in Hollywood you were able to get more money, residuals and a larger contribution to your health and pension?

OR

2) Move to the WGA because, as a board artist, you ARE a writer and maybe there's a cast to be made that you be treated as such?

That's the STRICTLY HYPOTHETICAL QUESTION we should all be asking ourselves, because the unions are the unions, the rules are the rules and it exists way outside the realm of what any one of us can decide.

Thoughts?

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

You wrote: There's a union that represents WRITERS - and they rep writers on prime time shows that probably make 5x what you make... AND they get residuals.

Sadly, while every animation writer WANTS to believe that residuals would be paid on all animated shows if somehow the WGA covered all of animation, we already know it's false. Don't believe me? Try looking at actual examples.

First, let's exclude the huge-budget Fox prime-time animated shows. There's only a tiny handful of those, and we all know the budgets for those shows are off the charts. Instead, lets look at the history of what the WGA has accomplished with more typical animated shows, the ones with shitty budgets, that get shown on cable or during the day. What, you say, there are almost no examples of such shows?

Actually, there's a recent example. Class of 3000. Done under a WGA contract, with the WGA's own president, Patric, writing on it. Surely that must have set the standard for the rest of animation writers to shoot for, with huge salaries and those glorious residuals.

Except, from what I've heard, the salaries weren't so great, and there were no residuals. Repeat, no residuals. Which is why you never heard the WGA crowing about putting Class of 3000 under contract. Why brag about NOT being able to accomplish something that you've long pretended was a given.

Sooooo, here's a hypothetical question for you 839 animation writers. Should you fight to stay in TAG and keep your superior health and pension benefits and push to keep increasing the minimums for writing, or move to the WGA for inferior benefits and no residuals so you can feel less like second-class citizens when you're rubbing shoulders with live-action writers? Strictly hypothetical, of course.

Steve said...

Hey, not a bad question EITHER.

The fact is, 839 health is better than WGA health. Ask anyone who has both. They'll tell you. I'll tell you.

That being said, when discussing residuals - I think more about shows like "Fairly Odd" or "Spongebob" (One script driven, one board driven) and how the writers (script or board) would be compensated if they had a residual package in place like basic live action cable.

Don't have an answer.

Simply posing a "there's a strike coming what do you think about" question.

Sleeping now.

Anonymous said...

Man, it's amazing how, even when you ask a sincere, straightforward question, some clowns can't answer it without being all snarky and passive aggressive about it.

Can we try to lower the Douche Index on this board?

Anonymous said...

Here's an idea... animation writers -- typist types and drawing types are perceived as low on the food chain from the "real" screenwriters. The writer's guild members don' think much of us -- if you've ever been to a wga meeting you know what I mean. Deny it if you can. I've been hearing this for years.

So why not SCAB it up? Get a buncha non-WGA animation writers who have experience, credits, emmys and take out an ad in the Reporter or Variety telling the studios -- hey, we'll write for no residuals, just pay us a little more than animation.

Oh no, but won't the high and mighty wga get mad? Sure... but what are they gonna do? Not hire us? Think less of us? I doubt that is that even possible.

Everytime the wga contract comes up for negotiation, the first thing to be cut out is the "language" that mentions animation. Do you know what the WGA's big goal is this time... "We're gonna fight to keep the word animation in there." That is so exciting. What does that mean? Most likely, NOTHING.

It means my grandson might get residuals. If I can afford to have one.

Anonymous said...

Was that really passive aggression, or was it an attempt to correct the oft-repeated fantasy that WGA=residuals when it comes to most animated TV shows? I know it's a bitter pill to swallow, but the evidence is it ain't so.

And, let's be honest, there was a bit of snark in the original question. ;)

Steve Hulett said...

Know when the first proposal for residuals came about?

1943.

Know when SAG and every other union and guild got some form of residuals? 1960-61.

It took a few lengthy strikes to get them. Those were the days when movie studios weren't small cogs in a vertically-integrated conglomerate's clanking machinery.

And it's been 19 years that the WGA has been trying to undo its bad DVD bargain of 1985, so far without success.

I've been in the room when Nick Counter smiled and said: "Negotiate early, and you'll get a better deal than after you strike. The WGA struck in '88, and they ended up with a worse deal than they could have had beforehand."

Kind of chilling, no?

And here we are on the brink of a new job action, and I'm pretty sure Nicholas J. Counter believes the '88 rule still applies.

Sooner or later, we'll see if he's right.

damiendevildemonlucifer smith said...

Hulett,

If the WGA deals ended up so shitty, why do they get paid so much more than 839 writers/board artists and get residuals to boot?

Why are our minimums so low that if a studio pays us above scale, they get away with murder when it comes to our schedules?

Why this 839, "we're just lucky to have jobs," mentality? In answer to this blog's original question, I'd say that we DO need a change within 839.