Thursday, January 24, 2008

To the 80 hour a week guy - you get what you negotiate for, and you put up with what you choose to put up with

What the hell, lets make this it's own thread:

Anonymous guy:

"Since when do studios NOT respect animation writers? studios kiss your inept asses and make you producers. you writers are just lucky studio executives have no idea how animation works or they would realize that MOST of you bog down your stories with crap slow down the pipeline and make shows twice as expensive to produce. instead you get promoted to producers and showrunners and sometimes they even call you directors. "

Uh... that's not entirely true. There's a whole strike going on because of how writers are respected, but... you have your opinion and I have mine. (I appreciate you highlighting "MOST," I'm not taking anything personally here.)

On a script driven show, do I think writers have more contact with executives and creators than other people on the production? Yes. And a producer/story editor needs that access, because they're the interface between the production and the network executive. Notes are delivered to the first person in the chain that can then manage the notes down to a production and have them addressed... whether it's story notes from an EP, network notes from the Channel, or S&P notes from the fine folks in Standards and Practices.
But that doesn't mean we're getting our asses kissed. It means we get the unfiltered negatives.

If you want to be an animation writer and stand out from the crowd then be the opposite of what most of them are right now. study more than writing. study film and art and design. artists only hate writers who are crap at scriptwriting so if your actually good at it you will be loved.

Well, everybody wants to be loved, but that's the last thing on my mind when I'm writing. All I care about is writing a script and producing a cartoon that I'm proud of.
I'm going to try to do it in a way that doesn't kill a crew, and try to do it in a way that's smart about the medium, but regardless of your background, that's all you can do: Try. In the end, every production is going to have it's own complications and constraints... and you do the best you in the time you have with the money you've been budgeted.

As for the pay dont worry about not getting residuals because when you are made a producer it will make up for it. until then just accept everything else as "part of the job" the way this blog constantly tells storyboard artists that fixing shitty scripts and working 80 hours a week is just "part of the job".

Being made a producer and getting residuals are two different things. Producer is a title, with a pay raise probably, but it doesn't mean back end, residuals, or monies in success.

But here's the part that I really wanted to debate with you.

Are you getting paid for 80 hours a week? And if not, why not?

If you're working 80 hours a week and you are getting paid for it, you need to stop complaining about that because you're being paid for 80 hours a week. But since I doubt that's the case, I'll say that if you're working 80 hours a week and you're not getting paid for it, then you need to stand up for yourself and get paid.

That's YOUR job. Or your supervisor's job. Or your union's job. Nobody's going to tell you to NOT work if there's work to be done. You're the only one that can ask to be compensated fairly for work done.

Continuing that thought: If somebody else can do your job in half the time (or less time, I suppose), in a way that makes the Production work or the producers happy, then you need to figure out how to do what you do differently and stop complaining about what the writers are doing.

Every production has a schedule and a budget. They are either reasonable, or not. But if I can't produce something on a schedule, I push the schedule. If I can't produce something on a budget, I say something. And if those two issues are immovable objects, then something has to give.

For me, on my current production, maybe that's a retake. Or the inability to get a joke in a show. Or I have to live with a background I hate, in a color palate that makes me think I'm looking at Salmon. Or facial expressions and character acting that's not what I was hoping for.

If I don't have the time or budget to fix those things, I can't wave a magic wand and create either. And I understand your frustration, if people above you want you to. But you need to figure out how you can say "I don't have a wand to do that."

There's three circles in any production: Shit you can control, shit you can influence, and shit that's out of your hands. Fix the stuff you can control and accept the stuff you can't. Otherwise you end up very bitter, very quickly.


Anonymous said...

you could take this entire argument and aply it to the striking writers.
maybe this analogy will clarify what you call my bitterness: imagine that you and all of your peers are directors on "everybody loves raymond" when one day all of your writers are traded off with storyboard artists. these storyboard artists write scripts that call for huge fighting robots with a million arms who do battle on a thousand different planets. you plead to them that you simply dont have the time or budget or manpower to accomplish this. they dont care. the scripts were approved so its your problem now. you explain it to your producer but the producers response is that if its in the script you have to do it. and it had better look amazing or your job will be handed over to someone else. you try another tactic by telling your producer that the show is supposed to be a sit com not an action show. the producer responds by telling you to punch up the script with jokes because the producer agrees that the script itself is not that funny but it has great action in it. so you have to make it funny but keep the script in tact without cutting anything even though the script is about 8 pages too long anyway. you ask how you are supposed to accomplish the special affects necassary without a team to handle it and the time and budget to accomplish it. your producer responds to you that its your problem just get it done and if your late your fired. meanwhile in the writers are in their offices (you work in a cubicle) brainstorming new ideas that are even worse than this one. at 6 oclock they all go home while you work around the clock for the next week. when you show everybody that you are somehow miraculously getting it done and you show them the rough unedited footage they give you a ton of revisions and changes. you now have less than a week to somehow make these changes (a lot of them are whole new scenes with whole new monsters) as well as finish the work you started.
somehow you manage to get it all done and it looks pretty good and the producer congratulates the writers on a job well done. if you complain about any of this you get labled a bitter artist and the producer fires you because he wants to keep the writers happy.
thats what its like being an artist in animation. if i had known this when i enrolled at my animation school i would have dropped out. now its too late. so forgive me if im bitter. if you walked a mile in my shoes youd understand. but you and most writers dont care and you never will and you will never make any effort to understand the problem because you are too defensive about your work.

Anonymous said...

Your producer in this analogy sounds like a real f-ing jerk. And I bet if he's treating you like that, maybe it's possible he's treating the writers poorly too? Maybe not as poorly as you, but also poorly? And maybe your anger and also the writers anger should really be directed at this a-hole producer instead of at each other? And maybe this a-hole is secretly laughing to himself because he successfully divided and conquered these two groups who would have way more power by working together instead of hating each other so much?

Steve said...

hey there.

Actually, I'm not so defensive of my work that I can't have this conversation.

I'm also willing to admit that I get a little bit better about being smart about the things that make your life hell every time I have a conversation like this. I - the script writing Executive Producer - am not in this to make your life hell.

But here's where I'm at with YOUR points and tone.

I don't know how old you are, but I feel as though either you're older than me, and the industry changed around you... or you are much younger than me, and walked into an industry with one idea only to find out that - at least on the show you were on - things were different.

Since you're never going to tell me what show it is, I'll never be able to address that. But, I get it. You're probably still working and you probably dont want to lose your job bitching about someone specifically. For all I know, you work for me, and I'm the problem you face every day. Whatever.

So... In your scenario, the producer is an ass... to you. But let me give you a few things to, maybe, mitigate your fury.

A writer might leave at 6, but that doesn't mean he or she stops writing. All a writer needs to write is a computer. Not a desk. Not a supply of paper and pencils. Not a Xerox machine. Just the computer.

A laptop can go anywhere. A computer can be at home. My job doesn't stop at 6, but I see no reason - if my evening's task at hand happens to be writing - not to leave early, beat traffic, and do that work from my home.

There are sitcoms where the job ends at 6, but there are sitcoms where writers stay in the room until 3AM. It depends on who is running the show. The Raymond philosophy was that you can't write about life unless you live it... and those writers left at a decent hour.

Other shows have longer, different hours. I have been in those rooms. It sucked. But... that was the deal.

You never really answered my question: If you're working 80 hours, are you being paid for it? because if you were being what you felt was a fair wage for the amount of work you did, I doubt that you'd have these issues.

A producer's salary is per episode. An artist's salary is hourly. What you're complaining about, honestly, should be happening the other way around. A producer or story editor should be annoyed that their job can be 24 hours and weekends sometimes. An artist charges by the hour, and has a union to protect that (allegedly).

If it's not the case, that is not the fault of the producer or the writers. I don't know who's fault it is... but expecting an EP, P, or story editor to make their life more difficult to make yours easy is unrealistic. Everybody wants to be able to do what they do with the least amount of grief.

Me? If you raise your concerns to me? I do my best to find a middle ground between what I want and what will work. But everyone answers to someone. If you're on a script driven show, you answer to a director, who answers to a producer, who probably listens to the writers who answer to the EP and the network.

When I worked on a board driven show, I wrote outlines that were then handed to board artists who had more clout with the EP than I did, and the cartoon became something other than what was in my head. That was the price of me, a script writer, being on a show where nobody wanted anything other than a very loose outline.

I hear what you're saying. I have been in your position (in a metaphorical level).

I respectfully tell you, I think I was more realistic about the constraints when I didn't like the organizational flow chart, than you are right now.

Anonymous said...

producer/writer in television is far more than just a bump in raise and interpreting/delegating notes, and i think you are downplaying the position you are in. the network certainly isn't creating the vision. as producer/writer, you are also sharing in the creation and are paid for those services, obviously not in the same manner as perhaps the people who brought the deal to the table and whether or not they are involved and to what degree. with those creating decisions comes an enormous responsibility to the crew, and your knowledge of the process is key to making the right decisions at the right time and for the right reasons.

as for creating shows, it usually isn't happening at the keyboard or with a tombo. it usually starts with a small group of friends and idiots in a room yucking it up. and most times, artists in animation are not invited. that's the bigger sore spot.

Anonymous said...

this is not just one show i am describing. its every show i have ever worked on. my biggest problem with writers as a whole is that most of them dont seem to even try to improve their skills. they hate working in cartoons so they crap out the easiest stuff they can that will dazzle the executives with their overly ambitous crowd crowds and it usually works because most executives do not know anything about animation either.
i do not hate writers as a whole. i do not and could not be a writer. english is not my first language and while i prefer to work from a script it is hard for me to support writers who dont seem to give a damn.
yes producers are often assholes as well. but the writers are in a position to map out a show at its beginning so they are in a position to help.
when i work 80 hour weeks it is always unpaid. as much as the union would like us to believe that there is no blacklisting and that they can help us with this situation they can not.
the producer never says you have to work over time but they say to you that you have to get it done within a certain period and the only way to get it done without it looking like shit is to work around the clock. if you turn in something that you get done in 40 hours a week but it looks like shit you get fired and your reputation is shot. story artists are judged by the quality of their work AND there ability to meet deadlines. if either of those things is not perfect then you either get fired or put on hiatus and someone else is given your job. there is simply no way to win.
i have been in animation just under 5 years so i am not a veteran but the older men i work with have the same complaints that i do and this scares me. i dont want to be old and bitter but i dont know what else to do. me and my peers all feel this way and its like were stuck and theres no way out and no one cares. i may sound overly dramatic but this is how every storyboard artist i know feels. it would be nice to have writers as allys in all of this because writers have more influence over producers. but until more writers understand the problems and aply it to their work the circle of resentment will continue.

Anonymous said...

you heard the man, writers. keep it short, sweet and loose. let go of the yuckity-yuck one-liners and stop selling the networks on the cross-bred bullshit genres that make everyone vomit. action-comedy? WHUUUUUUUTT?!?!

and why the hell nicktoons has gone completely script is criminal. forget its mega-hit status, sbob = funny. fairly odd is and always has been a canned laugh.

Steve said...

Hmmf. I'll take the bait, but not angrily.

Say what you want about Fairly Oddparents, but it's a success. There are points that it and spongebob swap places with what's #1 and #2 in the basic cable top 15 - with it's core audience of kid viewers. It's going to 100 episodes... and that doesn't happen that often.

That being said, SBOB sells more merchandise which, in the eyes of a network, makes it a bigger success. Why wouldn't it? It makes TONS of money.

But is that how you, as a creative person, judges it? Based on toys and soft goods?

The fact that the target audience of kids and teens watch both is an argument for the fact that there's more than one way to do a cartoon and entertain the masses. And that's the job of a production - to entertain large groups.

Art has the ability, and the right, to entertain a small handful of people.

But when it comes to television, how it's done is up to the person who sells the show and the network buying it.

But yes, SBOB is consistently #1. Somebody has to be.

But #2 in a crowded field is NOT a failure. And trying to paint it that was shows your agenda.

Clearly, you'd rather work on a board show like Spongebob, rather than a script show like FOP. I hope you end up at the job you want.

But if you "settle" for the opposite because you need the work, that's your choice, and nobody's dilemma but yours.

Kevin Koch said...

when i work 80 hour weeks it is always unpaid. as much as the union would like us to believe that there is no blacklisting and that they can help us with this situation they can not.
the producer never says you have to work over time but they say to you that you have to get it done within a certain period and the only way to get it done without it looking like shit is to work around the clock. if you turn in something that you get done in 40 hours a week but it looks like shit you get fired and your reputation is shot. story artists are judged by the quality of their work AND there ability to meet deadlines. if either of those things is not perfect then you either get fired or put on hiatus and someone else is given your job. there is simply no way to win.

I will bet you $100 that you have never actually expressed your concerns to Steve Hulett. I'll bet you have never actually said to your producer, when he or she dropped an unrealistic schedule in your lap, somethng to the effect of "Okay, boss, I can do that, but I'll need overtime to get it done."

Producers will keep pushing till the artists push back. It's always been that way, and always will be. The solution has also always been the same -- it takes people speaking up, preferably together, or calling in Steve Hulett to speak for you. Then the bullshit stops.

Wait a while, and some other producer will test you, and try the same shit, and you'll have to push back again. If you don't push back, that producer just thinks you're a chump, and will happily abuse you until you get burned out, then he or she will start over with fresh meat.

As long as people act like their time is worthless, producers will treat them like their time is worthless. I know you'll be pissed at what I'm saying, and that you say the union is useless, and I don't understand, and on and on. I've heard it before. And I've actually seen what happens when people speak up, and stick together, and decline to be treated like cattle. Guess what -- they don't get blacklisted. When they act like professionals, and expect to be treated like professionals, they find they usually get treated professionally.

So tell me, what happened when you called Steve Hulett about these violations of state law and the union contract?

Anonymous said...

you missed the subtle way we get bullied. it is not technically a violation because they dont order us to work overtime. but they give us the work with an unreasable deadline and if we dont get it done or if we say we will need overtime to finish it they will give the job to someone else who is willing to do it.
i agree that artists should try to stand firm on the issue but its impossible as long as you have a handfull of young kids who are faster and more anxious to get their break in the industry.
i like fairly oddparants and i also like sponge bob. but what makes them likeable is never the crowd scenes or mobs of action. its the simple humor.
i think that if you took a poll with cartoon audiences and asked them what they like most about them few or none would say that they love the big crowd scenes. its usually simple little gags and clear plots that appeal most. and also simplicity works better in television animation. so you would think that everyone would strive for simplicity but writers all seem to compete for who can write the biggest battle sequence or cram as many characters into one scene as possible.

Anonymous said...

In regards to the Spongebob vs FOP debate, the real point is now Nick has shut the door to board driven pitches, requiring scripts. Considering both ways have been a success for the company, why alienate a huge segment of creators who express themselves better visually?

Steve said...

Two answers, one reply:

1) Things will never change as long as there is quiet acceptance of unfair deadlines or expectations. If Kevin is so sure the union can fix this, you should take him up on his offer and see what happens.

Look - just yesterday my SB Supervisor point out the current workload was too much for he and the other artist to finish in time. So... we're using a freelance artist to pick up the slack.

I can't speak for other productions. All I can say is, I do the best on mine. And when somebody says "it's killing me" or "it's impossible," I listen. But if somebody says "I Can do it" or simply does it... then I accept that as well.

2) Nick isn't accepting board pitches anymore? Weird. I'm assuming that means when selling a show, because I can't believe the network that does Spongebob is closed to producing shows in a way that made Spongebob a success.

So, going off the idea that this is a "trying to sell a show" debate:

Why not think around the problem? Work backwards. Write the outline. Do the board. Make it exactly what you want it to be. Then, go backwards and retrofit that story into script form so the executives have what they want as well?

Any board can be worked backwards and be turned into a script. Eventually, all of cartoons are turned into "Conform to Cassette" scripts at some point anyway.

It's an extra step - and I'm sure some would say bullshit busy work, but if that's what the buyer wants, that's what you have to do to sell.

Just thinkin'

- Steve

cpo snarky said...

To the anonymous who spoke of the "circle of resentment" and would like to have writers as allies: How exactly do you propose that when, mostly, what we see on this board are a few artists continually telling us, in a rather unkind way, that we suck?

From this post and comments alone: "studios kiss your inept asses", "bog down your stories with crap", "most writers don't care and you never will". How do you expect writers to read that and not respond with anything other than a vigorously hoisted middle finger? And yet Steve, to his credit, never takes that bait and tries to engage in a constructive discussion. The vitriol, it seems to me, is very one-sided - and counter productive to making any valid point resonate.

And, to the anonymous (perhaps the same one?) who made the cheap-shot reference to FOP? I'd remind you to check the "Created By" credit on that show - you'll see an artist's name there.

Kevin Koch said...

you missed the subtle way we get bullied. it is not technically a violation because they dont order us to work overtime.

No, honestly, I didn't miss it at all. This is exactly how it's always been done. And it is just as illegal. Here's the law: if you do overtime, and the studio accepts the work, they owe you overtime pay. They do NOT have to explicitly authorize the overtime. It is their job to control what hours you work. They don't have to be there when you do it. If you stay in the studio till midnight or 2 AM, if you take work home, they owe you for that, at time and a half or double time. Period. And you can claim that overtime retrospectively. Your employer knows that.

its impossible as long as you have a handful of young kids who are faster and more anxious to get their break in the industry.

Take the kids aside and explain that not only are they being unprofessional, they are undermining the entire industry, and establishing practices that are unsustainable. If that fails, call Steve Hulett and tell him whats going on, and have him bring the hammer down. You all hang together, or you hang separately.

And frankly, I don't think it's really the fault of kids straight out of school. Their skills aren't developed, and even working free overtime their work won't be that great. It's people with some time in the industry, like you, who need to set the tone.

Listen, if you got all animation writers to write scripts that were twice as easy to board, with no complex scenes or crowd scenes and so on, and you went from working 40 free hours a week to getting your job done within work hours, what do you think would happen as long as you and your coworkers won't stand up for yourselves? I'll tell you what would happen -- the producer would cut the schedule, trimming your deadline week by week till you were back in the same boat.

There may be problems with too many writers not understanding what makes for good cartoon visuals, and not understanding the animation pipeline, but the writers are not the reason you're doing work for free.

Anonymous said...

no the reason i do work for free is because if i tell a producer i need overtime to get it done they will say "okay well give it to someone else". then if i go to the person they want to give it to and ask them not to accept it or tell them to ask for overtime pay do you really think that would work? please. they would say "sorry i need the work." you are never going to convince everyone to embrace your "all for one one for all" philosophy. thats just the way it is.
its a broken system. i know that writers are not the only problem but overly long overly ambitious scripts are a big part of the problem. i dont even hold a grudge against writers who at least TRY to improve but the majority just dont seem to care. their too busy thinking about how to get a sit com deal.

Steve said...

So, to summarize... the head of the union that represents board artists is saying that THEY have the power to fight for what is fair and that they should not be fearful of that.

Finally. Official, and documented, online.

To the anonymous person who instantly peed on that idea, I say:

1) Nobody is trying to get sitcom deals anymore. Have you seen the market place? It's reality. You're complaining about something that happened in the '80s. You might as well bitch about Parachute pants. The sitcom glory days are dead.

2) And you're right: It's not "all for one and one for all." It's straight up business sense.
Money is money, and a production doesn't give a crap if you make overtime, or if they pay someone else to do the job. In fact, tThey'd rather you do it, if you're on staff, because you know the show and that means you'll do it better, and faster.
It's not that the writer's don't care. It's that this isn't kindergarten, and we're not all "sharing." Some people are more conscientious than others, some writers are smarter abut this than others... but it's not entirely their problem.
You're the only one that can fight your fight. If you don't, or you don't even bother to raise your issues to the people you work with on a daily basis, why the hell should anybody else?

Inept Ass said...

From now on I’m writing scenes that take place in a room. The room only has one thing in it – a chair. The chair talks, but only in voice over. And it never moves.

Anonymous said...

I like it! And then a big crowd comes in and sits on it, and then an invading army comes and says they want the chair, so they fight and there's a waterfall!

Anonymous said...

see? rather than try to do their part to improve things writers just mock. it really is a hopeless situation when neither the writers you work with nor the union who represents you really understand the problem.

Marmel at a different computer said...

uh... I'm not mocking. Neither is the person in charge of your union.

Of course, I didn't hear you complaining about mocking when it was at my expense, but whatever.

Nobody here is your agent, lawyer, or Mommy. There are ways you can fix this, but you have to do it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go back to not writing a sitcom because there's a strike, and the format is dead.

cpo snarky said...

anonymous - once again, considering your "sitcom deal" comment, how many times do you think you can poke a dog with a stick before it starts to snap at you?

Of course you're getting mocked now - every comment you make is tagged with an insult. Try being nice, tone down your rhetoric, and I'm sure the mocking stops.

Anonymous said...

i only direct my frustration at writers who are inept and uncaring. if you are neither of those things in your work than you have nothing to be insulted about because you are not part of the problem. if you are neither of those things than i hope i get to work with you someday.
i dont ask anyone to fix anything for me. i simply ask that people do their jobs well. if everyone just did their job well the problems of the industry would be much less.

Kevin Koch said...

So, to summarize... the head of the union that represents board artists is saying that THEY have the power to fight for what is fair and that they should not be fearful of that.

Finally. Official, and documented, online.

Not sure what you're going for here, Steve. Is that sincere? Sarcasm? I can't tell.

What I wrote above is exactly what Steve Hulett has written on the TAG blog and in the Peg-Board, with concrete examples from the real world, again and again over the years.

Here's a news flash (well, it seems to be a news flash to some people, even though it's been repeated by TAG leaders for as long as there's been a union) -- the Union is just what the name union implies -- a union of people with similar issues and concerns. A union of artists and writers and technicians. We are all the union. That's you, anonymous board guy, and Steve M., and the snarky anonymous writer, and everyone else working at a union shop. The union isn't some outside force, it isn't Steve Hulett or me or the exectutive board, there isn't some union enforcement agency or union secret police or union ninjas. It's all of us, together. The union power comes from our collective willingness to take action. From unity. And in the absence of that collective willingness and unity, the union becomes an empty name, convenient as a scapegoat when one declines to stop being a victim.

There are always a million excuses to go along to get along. I've heard plenty of them. I'm sorry if saying that makes me sound unsympathetic. I'm not. There's a lot about our industry that sucks. I just get tired of people who won't acknowledge that they are quietly colluding with a broken status quo.

Steve said...


I'm not being sarcastic. I think it's important that you have given the artist complaining a way to deal with his complaints... given him a road map to fix that which he finds unfair.

I wanted to make the point that "money is money," and whether a studio pays more to a second person or gives overtime to a staffer... I feel that they'll err on the side of the show's experience.

So no, I am not being facetious. I have my concerns/issues as to how writers are represented in our current contract, but you and I are on the same page about the first step in fixing an unfairness is taking some personal responsibility for allowing it to happen.

- Steve

Anonymous said...

we belong to the union but we are by no means unified. if we were there would be no problem. but clearly there is a problem and clearly the union is not the sollution to it.

Kevin Koch said...

Cool, Steve, thanks for clarifying. It's soooo easy to read sarcasm or anger or whatever into internet comments.

As for that last post, that reads like some fiercely circular logic.

cpo snarky said...

Well, we finally agree on something, anonymous. It would be great if everybody did their jobs well. And, those that are deficient should take steps to sharpen up their games. Believe me, I've seen bad scripts from writers who just don't get it. Their burden (and, hopefully, they choose to assume it) is to figure out what they're doing wrong and not repeat those mistakes over and over - which comes at your expense, the story editor's expense, the EP's expense, etc. etc.

In other words, your concerns (vis a vis that issue) are valid. I'm sure that all of us writers, at least when we began in this field, worte some absolute dreck. If we're smart, we learn from that. That being said, I've seen some godawful boards come down the pike, that other artists have to fix - sometimes with extra input from the writers. That's just the way things work. There's always room for all of us to improve. And, yeah, some people never bother to do that. Those people are dicks.

My issue with you is that there was an air of broad generalization, that seemed to be aimed at all writers. That's not right, and it's not fair - and that's when the cpo gets his snark on.

I really think this board is a good one for opening up dialogues and addressing concerns - but it goes a lot easier if we approach each other as colleagues and not enemies.

And, thanks Kevin - I'm going to start pitching "Union Ninjas" next week. :-)

Anonymous said...

Doing a free board first just to turn it into a script to show an exec that will probably want to change, is the kind of suggestion coming from someone, who admits he can't/doesn't draw, that could make someone who does draw -kinda go nuts.

Why not let development pay for development. Doing boards is a bit more than doing an extra step. Just saying is all...:)

Anonymous said...

cpo: i have always made a point to say that i prefer to work with writers. if it were not for scripts i doubt i would be able to work in this country because english is not my first language. i do not want every show to be just made with storyboards. every show is different. some need scripts some dont.
of course there are bad story artists as well and i do not forgive them either. i know that i am a good storyboard artists so if someone complains about bad artists i am not offended because i hate bad artists too. bad storyboards are easier to notice because it shows in the finished cartoon. but this is a forum about animation writers. most people dont know what a good cartoon script should be so lots of horrible scripts get put through.
what frustrates me are writers who dont know anything about animation and who clearly dont want to learn and thats all of the writers i have worked with in animation. i am sorry if that sounds hurtful but i am not saying it to be cruel i say it because it is true.
working with writers who dont know anything about animation is like being a linebacker on a football team and your quarterback is a baseball player who has never played football and the coach tells you to follow their lead.

cpo snarky said...

and here, finally is where I can feel your frustration and empathize. We writers are the first step in a long process and, yes, we owe it to the artists to give you a document that won't make your head explode. I know I try to, and I think most of the people I've worked with share that ethic. I also realize that there are some who don't care, as long as they're pulling in a paycheck. And that's sad. I do find it a little hard to believe that you've never worked with one good writer - but I don't know your situation so I have to take you at your word.

You also have to realize that we, like you, work under tight deadlines - and bear the brunt of addressing network notes that occasionally fly in the face of the stories we'd like to tell. Sometimes,in the midst of that, scripts get pushed through the pipeline that would benefit from another pass or two. That's not an excuse, just the reality of keeping to a schedule.

I hope you keep coming here with concerns and opinions - and that the writers who check in take them to heart - which is much more likely, with the anger dialed back.

Have a good weekend.

Anonymous said...

"...writers who dont know anything about animation and who clearly dont want to learn and thats all of the writers i have worked with in animation."

Where does this artist work? DIC?

Anonymous said...

"Where does this artist work? DIC?" TV animation. ;)

Matt Wayne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex Weitzman said...

A thought for our anonymous board artist:

It's clear you've had some issues with various writers you've encountered, and the scripts they've foisted upon you. Kevin and Steve pretty much summed up what you should do in regards to the inappropriate overtime problem, but as for writers, have you considered taking the case right to them? Essentially, the job is all about storytelling, whether you're typing it out in words or expressing it visually panel by panel.

So, what I'm saying is that you should be able to talk to any given writer about what they've written for you to board. Obviously without bitterness at the forefront, of course, because that will shut down anyone's desire to communicate. But perhaps you could simply have a friendly, professional talk with the writer of any problematic or uncertain script you're working on. Ask him/her why certain things they wrote were included: what purpose do they serve in the story? Ask the writer how he/she imagined some difficult scene being put up on screen; it would probably be way tougher for a writer to tell you to your face that you have to draw five thousand people in one storyboard panel. And again, never in a bitter or accusing way, but in a spirit of collaboration and curiosity.

You see, in this, you'd get more say in the story, as you've been implying you'd like. By collaborating even slightly with the writer, you may influence the script, and the writer may influence your board. I imagine any honest writer would gladly welcome a chance to communicate with you about your board, because it helps get his/her vision on the screen more clearly and makes the story much more distinct and focused. As long as the desire is to work together, and not to compete or undercut each other, you'd probably both be better off, and come off looking like better artisans in the end.

Anonymous said...

yes i have tried this. it has not worked. they dont want to get notes from an artist. sometimes rarely they will politely say that they will do what they can and then do nothing. even if this worked for the show i am on every artist i know has this same problem. it is more wide spread then just me.

Alex Weitzman said...

Ah, but I'm not suggesting you "give notes", like a director would give to his subordinates. I am suggesting you approach him as an equal, or even perhaps with a more humble perspective. After all, the writer doesn't work for YOU. You both work for the same guy. This is why I made such a big deal in my previous approach about collaboration.

Look at it this way: are you pleased when some writer walks up to you and says, "Look, pal, here's my list of everything you're doing wrong"? Of course not. So why should you expect them to take it any differently if you approach the writer with anger, bitterness, or anything else than respect and equal perspective?

Now, of course, if the writer refuses to grant you any say at all, then there's not much you can do beyond doing your job as best you can. That way, at least you've taken the high road, and you'll earn the reputation of being a professional. That presumes that the writers are completely unwilling to even listen to one thing you say, even when you express it with simple diplomacy and insight. But if you come at the problem with a negative attitude, then it'll be much more likely for them to brush you off.