Wednesday, November 14, 2007

But I'd miss the Bitching

Steve has suggested a townhall meeting between artists and writers.

I oppose this with ever fiber of my being.
Artist and writers hanging out together is a horrendously bad idea for several reasons.

1. Artists may come to realize that writers are only human. Currently they fear us and the power we wield (crowd scenes.) If they figure out we're human and fallible they may actually try to speak to us.

2. Artists may infect us with their love of animation. We must stay focused on the money. We only do this for the money and caring about our work will only weaken us.

3. Artists might become more industry saavy. They might go out and get real agents that put the artist's interests ahead of their own relationship with the studios. Then they'll ask for more money, that would cut into our salaries!
4. And this is the worst one. Artists may learn from us. They may learn how to be better story tellers and writers. This might lead them to better jobs like producer or showrunner. Jobs we have now!

I call upon all writers and fellow members of the WAA to boycott this meeting.


Steve Hulett said...

Absolutely. Totally agree. Bad idea.

Why did I think it was a fine thing down below? Why didn't I have eyes to see? What a tool I am.

Anonymous said...

This is why, as a artist, I would never attend this meeting. Writers (like the author of this post and our union leader) are convinced that the only reason artists are frustrated with them is because storyboard artists just don't "get" writers or think that writers are "evil."
The evening would involve fifty writers explaining why they pack crowd scenes into scripts and how it's really not their fault and the two artists who show up will nod their heads in agreement in the hopes of getting a job lead because they're laid off from King of the Hill or some other WGA show.
I admire the sentiment behind the idea, but until animation writers raise the bar to a higher standard (either themselves or by their bosses) and artists are just desperate for work this problem will remain unsolved.

Steve said...

I think "Ex" and "Steve Hewett" were kidding.

Anonymous, if you're so locked into your opinion that you can't even have a conversation about it, I suggest it would be a waste of your time anyway.

Steve said...

Oh, and WAA?

The Wisconsin Alumni Association?

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'm another anonymous. Not that first guy. I'm a writer.

The problem is... all the other artists (besides the 2) will be getting drunk somewhere and having a great time complaining about the writers. As a writer I've been artist friendly since the beginning, took life drawing classes, jerry beck lectures, cinematography, etc... I even used to go to board guys and ask them if they had ideas for stories, gags, locales, stuff they wanted to draw. The looks on their faces -- they were stunned. For all their complaints, give them the chance and it was deer in headlights. I realized it was easier for them to complain about writers than actually try to write or learn how to write. Of course, not all artists are like this.

"Anyone can make notes on a script. Not anyone can write one." --- Anonymous

Anonymous said...

why would an artist hand over story ideas that they wouldnt get credit or pay for? maybe instead of asking them to do your job you (and other writers who want to be "artist friendly") should go to them and ask if the script makes sense or if theres anything unclear about it or if they can clarify something more or what type of stuff you should avoid in future scripts or if the length is okay. as i have mentioned before on this blog most storyboard artists have enough responsibility as it is. we dont want to be writers we just want scripts that work within the deadline and within the medium. most storyboard artists arent looking for more collaboration we just want to be able to finish the script on time without having to work nights and weekends.

Anonymous said...

I think this underlines why animation writers are detested for the most part by artists. Even in the jokiness of the original post there's a clear smugness that comes through and i suspect that those that write can't see it.

CPO Snarky said...

Anonymous...jeez, I'm glad you're an artist and not a Southern Sheriff. I'd hate to get caught driving in your town after sundown.

I hope you're not this narrow-minded when you draw. But, I'm sure you're a superior artist, seeing how good you are at painting everyone with the same brush.

Did you ever stop to consider that the "clear smugness" of the first post is in direct reaction to posters like you, who come here filled with nothing but negativity and confrontation? Talk about smug.

P.S. Why would an artist want to share story ideas? How about towards the shared goal of creating terrific shows - or are you so jaded, it doesn't matter to you?

P.P.S. Writers work nights and weekends, too. My wife would attest to this, probably in a loud voice, and with some annoyance.

Matt Wayne said...

I get along with most artists and directors I work with.

Maybe my experience isn't normal. My first writing job in animation was for a story editor named Jim Gomez, who's also an artist who designed and boarded for Klasky Csupo and Spumco. He seems to like breaking a story with a room full of writers.

But even since then, I've only worked with one artist who hated writers. He directed what I felt were some pretty mediocre Tom and Jerry Tales cartoons. He made sucky cartoons from kind of good scripts, I felt, boasting all the while how he was saving the day by adding gags to draw out the set-up and not really getting to a climax. The story editor and producer seemed to agree with me. I think he was gone by season 2, but so was I, thanks to schedule conflicts.

Which may be why when I see anonymous folk posting bile about writers that reminds me of this guy, I get mad.

Most board artists, directors and designers I've met are really nice. So this supposed rift between artists and writers may be more John K. fanboy fiction than fact. Next artist I see gets a hug.

Steve said...

Okay, Anonymous, I've tried to be the smiling middle ground on this, but I gotta reply.

why would an artist hand over story ideas that they wouldnt get credit or pay for?

::If you have a story idea, you get a little something called "Story by." If you board the story that you got the story by credit, you'll also get a "Storyboard by" which means you'll get TWO credits to the writer's credit, if there's a writer. How about that?

maybe instead of asking them to do your job you (and other writers who want to be "artist friendly")...

A writer's job is to write script. An storyboard artist's job is to take that script, plus it, and do the next step to make it a cartoon (right?)

I know all you want to do is just "storyboard it without having to fix it" but on a script-driven show, that might not be the job description for the show you're on.

I can't draw. I do the best I can to write and produce scripts that make the next steps of the process easy and fun, but I need artists and directors who can help me turn them into cartoons. And if that means "fix" them, that's the job.

You'd probably hate working for me. Not because I'd be a dick to you, but because I'd expect you to think of things that I don't, and am simply not wired to think of.

It doesn't make you wrong to feel the way you feel, but that's the reality of working on a cartoon that was created from a writer, in my opinion.

maybe this is the same anonymous, maybe it isn't, but still::

I think this underlines why animation writers are detested for the most part by artists. Even in the jokiness of the original post there's a clear smugness that comes through and i suspect that those that write can't see it.

Stereotypes. Your smug is my "being snarky."

Not all writers are smug. Some writers are smug.

But as long as we're dealing with stereotypes...

Not all artists are primadonnas or babies, but you come off like that a bit to me at points.

If you're asking my opinion, and you're probably not, because I write and you draw, I think you need to stop looking at a person's title and start looking at who they are and what the job is SPECIFIC to the production that they work on.

Maybe you don't care but, I work late too. I work weekends too. I have added to scripts, and reworked scripts, and reworked scripts where I've added a LOT, and gotten no official or unofficial credit for. And there isn't a writer in town that hasn't gone through that.

Writers are artists. Artists are writers. There's ZERO reason why we shouldn't be banding together and working together to make better product other than ego.

Any division between the two is, in my opinion, artificial and silly.

And by the way? Still planning on planning a town hall. So... suck on that, EX.

- Steve

Anonymous said...

Okay -- the anonymouse "writer" here again. Wow, I realize that there is animosity here. Gosh, I feel it too... even though I have many artist friends. Weird.

And I think you're right that John K thrives on this conflict. Propogates it. I admire his work. I really dig some of his R&S cartoons -- the early ones that were actually funny. I know his disciples tell him the latest ones are good, but come on.

Let me tell you, John can write. I checked out his most recent post that includes a bio on him --it is loaded with fantastic fantasy! You want to talk about creative writing. The only thing he didn't take credit for was inventing the pencil. Seriously -- it is hilarious. Especially the part about how putting UFC on Spike was his idea. Hilarious!

One thing I took offense to, was how he took ALL the credit for the revival in the early 90's television animation. Really though, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Tiny Toons were a huge part of that. John left out that he worked on Tiny Toons. I wonder why? I also wonder why he spends so much time trying to convince people what he's done -- instead of trying to grow as an artist. He is a great artist. And a very talented writer of fiction.

Anonymous said...

"P.S. Why would an artist want to share story ideas? How about towards the shared goal of creating terrific shows - or are you so jaded, it doesn't matter to you?"
sure thats a wonderful sentiment so along those lines why dont writers help out with storyboards by adding extra poses? after all its not the impossible workload that counts as long as were all working towards making a great show!
"A writer's job is to write script. An storyboard artist's job is to take that script, plus it, and do the next step to make it a cartoon (right?)"
what the hell does it mean to "plus a script"? its so vague its insane. and while "plussing" is expected of board artists it SHOULDNT be. its hard enough just getting the board done on time let alone "plussing" it. dont you see how absurd that is? to be handed something and told "here plus this"!?
you all seem to think that this is an issue of artists hating writers and you keep referencing john k. i hate john k cartoons. most artists LIKE writers but there is a shortage of competent writers in animation (both prime time and daytime) and that makes a board artists job a million times harder than it already is. we dont hate writers we hate writers who dont take enough of an interest in animation to learn how to write for it effectively. thats all. and you can deny it all you want but thats the majority of writers in animation because most of them hope to get on sit coms or movies.
and yes there are also bad board artists but when a board artist turns in a bad board its not the writers job to fix it. the director hands it back to them and makes them get it right. thats what producers and story editors should do with writers.

Steve said...

What is plussing a script?

Finding visual gags. Adding gags. Making it visually funnier.


Just like writers plus a board by punching up with jokes and gags.


Making it better every step of the way.

I'm sorry, but it is expected that you care about making it better, not just cranking out drawings in the same way that you would hammer, or molly nuts, or pistons if you were in a factory.


Caring about the project you've been hired to work on.

warren said...

Hey all,

I'm a Canadian storyboarder, so hate me if you must. I'm pretty surprised by M'seu Marmel's magnanimous move. Partly because I'm working on his show right now and it's going pretty smoothly on my end, and partly because of how much sway John K seems to have....still.

I've worked for Kricfalusi as well, on those admittedly not-so-hot new R&S shows. And guess what? He started with writing it out. I believe on his jumble of a blog he even points that out.

And yeah, for a hundred reasons we won't get into, he is a talented writer of fiction. He his whatever type of guy he is, but he's only one guy amid hundreds of artists and writers, showrunners and producers. So for that reason and from my own experience, I agree with this notion:

"So this supposed rift between artists and writers may be more John K. fanboy fiction than fact."

And if it isn't fiction in LA, for the love of Mike (or Dave, or Ucle Carl), please please please talk it out.

Not every writer works like Steve Marmel, not every boarder wants to do what could be construed as unpaid work, but heaven forbid you should find some approach that works for both camps and wind up fundamentally raising the bar of TV cartoons!

Like it or not, we're stuck working together (even with guys like me, way up here). Fingerpointing isn't gonna get us all more contracts. A greater percentage of better shows will. Doing something to increase the odds in that favour can't be all bad.

I'd really like to see more guys like Anon (the boarder) out there, because I wonder how many guys like him there really are - and how many would be left afterwards.

It's pretty easy to get swept up into a frenzy at 2 am, still working at home on a bad deadline (most likely on a crowd shot?). Over the last ten years, I've been there too once in a while.

But in the daylight after a good rest and talking to real people again (situations both writers and boarders cherish, I'd bet), things will get more clearheaded for both sides, I imagine. So whatever vitriol you spew here, go vent in public! Things will resolve quicker if this is a really widespread rift. I think in the end, we'll all get better work out of it.

Then get drunk and tell each other how you REALLY feel.

Marty said...

I can't speak for all the writers out there. I can only speak for my little corner of this vast animation universe. However...

On the show I'm currently story editing, we actually manage to have a two-way conversation between the writing camp and the art camp. Directors are invited (not required) to story break lunches, along with the supervising producer and art director of the show. We'd invite board artists too but, sadly, limited budget has forced the boarding to be done overseas. (Not my idea, believe me. I'd kill to have the boards done here.)

Everybody contributes ideas because 1.) everyone likes working on the show and wants to make it as good as possible; 2.) we can catch any potential production difficulties (the dreaded crowd scenes, too many new character or b.g. designs, etc.) as early in the conception stage as possible; and 3.) it's much more enjoyable for the artists to work on stories they feel they have some sort of creative stake in.

Do the artists have to write extra pages? No. Do these meetings take time away from their busy schedules? No. That's why we do them at lunch. Does it make the artists' work down the line easier? You'll have to ask them, but I believe the answer is "yes". Does it result in better scripts? Absolutely. Do we all still end up working long hours and weekends? Unfortunately, yes. Is there grumbling? Yes, but rarely about the writing, which is the only step I have any control over.

Additionally, at every step of writing, from premise to outline to script, I get notes from the supervising producer that keep the script from veering into board artist nightmare territory, or simply things that just won't look good in animation with the limited budget we have.

And my office is open at any time for any artist who has a question or clarrification or suggestion to improve the script or make the artist's job easier.

I make no claims that what we're doing is art. It's just a fun little show about robots that turn into cars and trucks and stuff. But I see how hard this crew works and I want to do everything in my power to make their jobs easier and more enjoyable.

My point in this long rambling post? Communication is a two-way street. If you're unhappy about the way things are, talk to someone who has the power to change it. Your director, your producer, your story editor, your union rep, whomever. Don't bitch, don't gripe, don't name-call. Just talk. Be specific. Don't blame all writers or all artists for your woes. Vent anonymously on boards like this if it makes you feel better, but talk reasonably in person. And listen. Reasonability is a two-way street as well. Granted, not everyone is reasonable or open to suggestion, but you'd surprised how many people are simply not aware there's even a problem and, once it's brought to their attention, are willing to try to remedy the situation.

Lord knows this industry has no shortage of assholes. Try not being one and see how that works for you. (Not addressing anyone specific with that last statement. It applies to all of us, myself included.)

Anonymous said...

i'd make an angry comment, but you aren;t working and you aren't scheduled to work for a long time.

so i'm laughing.

at you.

have fun with the strike and selling stuff on eBay as your union comes out of this worse than when they started. i'll do my part on the animation end by sewing the seeds of contempt and resentment of all WGA writers. i think we'll do fine without you!

have a nice strike during the holidays

Anonymous said...

the bottom line is if you do your best to write solid scripts that make sense and arent overly complicated or overly long and you try your best to write within the medium of animation then you are not part of the problem. but you should know that you are in a very small minority. be proud that your better than the majority of your peers and understand the frustration of those who have to bear the burden of their incompetence.

cpo snarky said...

Dear anonymous...

That would be "SOWing the seeds of contempt".

And thus I finish bearing the burden of your incompetence.

P.S. The strike does not affect writers on 839 shows. We're still working. Plus, I believe, the majority of animation writers are not full, voting members of the WGA.

And, wishing anyone financial ill will during the holidays is about as douche-y as it gets. Have some class.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I missed the meeting when they voted to edit the word 'cartoonist' from 839's name. Prob'ly was working a deadline. It was actually quite a miracle there was a collective bargaining organization with the word cartoonist in it. Author, playwright, comedian - not exactly job descriptions one finds on credits, though these are the disciplines that we revere. And in the end, lawyers collect the endless fees deciding which credits, which titles, which words, will end up in the contracts, yours and mine.

cpo snarky said...

Since you're not pulling back on, or offering the slightest mea culpa for, your previous "I'm laughing at you" post, I'll pass on commenting on your latest missive. Happy Thanksgiving (wishfully assuming you have the capacity for either).