Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Okay, enough bitching. Lets bridge some gaps.

A question for Steve Hewitt, Matt Wayne, Nicole Dubac (hahaah! Congrats on the win! Now you get to be pimped to do stuf!) and anyone else who can make this idea happen:

I would like to believe the majority of people, when placed in the same room, would find themselves somewhere in the middle on these issues, or at the very least, forced to have civil conversations about it.

Writers who understand the importance of directors and board artists, directors and board artists who understand the importance of quality writers.

Perhaps it's time for 839 to set a "town hall" on this.

A symposium with writers, and artists, and a room full of both, discussing problems and answering questions. Everything from the prime time guys (if we can get them) to the 839 writers, to artists from both.

I would see this as a discussion as to how things are now, not a history lesson about the way they timed things on Huckleberry Hound or the way the writing was done on "Superfriends." That was then.

History's important. I'm not denying that. But it can't be a free for all about who didn't know who UB Iwerks is. That is a different discussion.

Lets talk about what's happening today. But lets try to do it proactively.

I mean, it will be hard for anonymous people to come in and drop grenades, but... then again, I'm not trying to pitch a fragfest, either.

I'm trying to toss out the idea of an honest "townhall" type environment where people can talk about frustrations, share ideas on how to make things better and NOT walk away all pissed off and even further apart.

What do you think?

Think we - as a "Guild" or a "Union" or whatever the heck we are, can all sit in the same room and speak to each other like peers? I'm up for it if there's enough other people who are as well.



Steve Hulett said...

Fine by me.

I think you start beating the tom-toms for a meeting and see how many folks show up.

I say you plan to do a meeting in January maybe February, because we are now into the holiday cycle, and if history is an indicator you won't get a turnout until after the New Year anyway.

Anonymous said...

i doubt many artists will show up because writers eventually become producers and artists can only become directors if their lucky. so artists run the risk of pissing off their future bosses. even if enough artists did show up my guess is that it would still wind up being a messy shouting match. neither side will admit to being wrong about anything so nothing will really come of it. its a nice thought tho.

Anonymous said...

Quick question for you: are you going to push to get feature people involved? My sense is that, now and in the past, this discussion has mostly involved TV writers and, to a lesser extent, TV board artists.

The way writers, story artists, and directors function (in general) is vastly different in TV compared to features (and I'm talking about theatrical features, not direct-to-video).

Kevin Koch

Steve said...

I think I'd want to keep this one to TV, mostly because that's the grind. We do 65 episodes of a TV show in the time that you do 1 movie? Maybe two?

It's the pressure, the production time constraints, the interaction between writers and artists on a day to day basis... that's what I'd be interested in roundtabling.

Marty said...

Anonymous, your statement may be true in the nasty world of primetime animation, but here in daytime, the opposite largely holds true. I am currently a story editor on a show at a certain nameless studio that happens to be connected with a certain nameless network that specializes in Cartoons. I was told that I couldn't be given the title of "Producer" on said show, EVEN THOUGH IT WOULD NOT COST THEM ONE PENNY TO DO SO. Meanwhile, our Supervising Director was happily upgraded to a Producer title. I was informed that no writer at said studio has ever had nor will ever have a Producer title, lest it set a dangerous precedent that would actually cost them a penny or two.

Anonymous said...

By the way, I think this is a cool idea, so props for the suggestion. I also think that we can't begin to understand "how things are now" unless we know how we got here, and what's been tried before, and what's happening with respect to other entertainment unions. Information is power.

That said, there's a lot of air to clear, and this might be a good way to start clearing it, and finding some common ground to build on.

Kevin Koch

Anonymous said...

Wow, you post fast, Steve.

Okay, that's probably a good idea to keep the discussion focused on TV to start with. They really are different worlds.

Realize that TAG calling this meeting won't necessarily get a lot of people to show up. You'll need to get a few high-profile board artists on board, preferably from a few different studios. Then you'll get a good turnout.

Kevin Koch

Steve said...

Well, I've been thinking about this and I do think whatever changes are going to happen, have to happen within 839.

And that's everybody.

But if all we're doing is sniping at each other over the internet, nothing's gonna change. Ever.

Steve - I agree that this should happen after the holidays. Maybe mid to late January?

Anonymous said...

and by "sniping" you mean "speaking our minds and telling the truth but doing it anonymously for fear of blacklisting from writers, producers and the guild"
and as for martys comment above: youve given ONE example from ONE studio. i have worked on daytime cartoons and the writers were still in charge. using cartoon network as "proof" doesnt help anyone because executives at disney and nickelodeon will be quick to point out that cartoon network has no real hits right now.

Steve said...

Yay! Nitpicking already!

I never said anonymous people were the only ones that snipe.

I'm just saying, maybe for one night, we don't.

If you choose to stay anonymous, you could always wear a bag over your head. How distinct is your voice?

Anonymous said...

Steve, I wasn't saying TAG shouldn't be involved, or wouldn't provide the space and advertising. The point I'm making is, few will show up based on reading about it in the PegBoard and on the Guild's email list.

Writers will show up because they've heard about it from you and other writers here, and because there are groups like the Writers Caucus that meets regularly, so there's an established pattern of writers getting together.

But I think it'll be harder to get board artists involved and participating. If key writers reach out and invite the board artists they know to be a part of it, and those board artists spread teh word to fellow board artists, then we have a chance of this going somewhere. That's all I'm saying.

Oh, and please, anonymous above, there ain't no blacklisting by TAG. TAG has no say in who the studios decide to hire. And, given how disorganized the studios are, I don't think they're capable of keeping anything approximating the kind of blacklist you're suggesting. So get involved.

Kevin Koch

Marty said...

FYI, Anonymous, I gave ONE example that encompasses EVERY SINGLE PRODUCTION at an ENTIRE STUDIO. I don't doubt that there are plenty of writer-producers in animation that have made your life miserable (hey, there are more than a few who've made MY life miserable too, but that's another story).

Your statement above was "writers eventually become producers and artists can ONLY (emphasis mine) become directors if their (sic) lucky." That must be news to Bruce Timm, Glenn Murakami, Butch Hartman, Steve Hillenburg and Bob Boyle, to name but a few non Cartoon Network artist-producers.

In general, writers don't have any more power in this industry than the artists do. Although SOME artists and writers do manage to achieve more power than the rest of us. But to make a blanket statement about either camp having more power in the industry as a whole is both innacurate and ridiculous.

The point is we can all be better off if we make some effort to communicate and understand each other's point of view. And perhaps with some "strength in unity" we can even achieve improvements in the working conditions and compensation for both camps as well. The writers tried doing it unilaterally at the 2000 negotiations. It didn't work. It alienated the artists and led to more shouting between both camps. So let's try a more united effort. Honestly, what do we have to lose at this point?

Kurt said...

Can we first bridge the gap between the Yangs and the Coms???

Anonymous said...

Am I wrong in thinking that unless we all go on strike someday -- writers and artists together -- residuals will never happen? Studios don't just happily "see reason" and fork over their dough.

That said, does anyone think writers and artists would ever go on strike? Most of them don't have the rserves of money that many of the writers now on strike have. We also wouldn't get Ray Romano and the cast of Grey's Anatomy to picket with us. And programming wouldn't be affected for many months after a strike began.

So if striking's the only way to get residuals and we don't have the balls to strike, what would a town meeting accomplish exactly?

Matt Wayne said...

A town meeting would let us all figure out what can be done to make the situation better. Stuff like introducing COLAs and slwoing or stopping subcontracting, and making better use of the current, unfair deal we have with the studios.

Or we could all start attending the 839 general membership meetings. I'm up for either.

Steve Hulett said...

TAG has no say in who the studios decide to hire. And, given how disorganized the studios are, I don't think they're capable of keeping anything approximating the kind of blacklist you're suggesting.

I'll got a step further. I've been in meetings where the studio let somebody go and said "We're NEVER going to hire this person back! Never! Ever! Blecch!"

And eleven months later, they hired the person back.