Rumor Central: Animation Collective Not Paying Artists?

Animation Collective

Just a week after the news about Nick’s downsizing in New York comes this rumor about NY studio Animation Collective. A reliable Cartoon Brew reader writes:

“I wanted to let you know that I recently spoke to one of my friends and colleagues who works (worked) at Animation Collective in NYC. It looks like they shut down shop (whole staff) because they couldn’t pay their employees. Larry Schwarz (CEO) told the staff that one of their contracted clients can’t pay them. Word on the street is that Animation Collective hasn’t paid their staff in four weeks! Another gloom sign in the animation world. Ugh. Can it get worse? I’m guessing yes.”

Can anybody provide more details about the situation? Let’s hope this is not true because it would be a disgraceful and unacceptable way for any studio to treat their employees.

UPDATE: We received an email from an artist who had been working at Animation Collective. The artist asked for anonymity but allowed some of the information to be shared with Cartoon Brew readers. The artist says that not all the productions at the studio were affected, however the studio was never compensated for one of the productions that they completed for a French producer. Since being laid off, the artist still hasn’t received AT LEAST four weeks of payroll, some of it dating back to September and October. According to this artist, the studio hired accountants and lawyers to help them recover the money owed, but to date Animation Collective hasn’t delivered any of the backpay and isn’t offering details about what’s happening. They only apologize to employees and say their payments have been delayed.


  • Stephen DeStefano

    Actually, the first bit of bad news that befell the NY animation community this season was the collapse of WORD WORLD, about a month ago. It’s a rough time to be an animator in New York.

  • http://asteriskpix.blogspot.com roconnor

    How about you investigate and confirm the situation before writing about it from word-of-mouth speculation?

    Are you looking to become the National Enquirer or Fox News of animation?

  • http://rockitpack.blogspot.com :: smo ::

    “disgraceful and unacceptable”? sounds like how it is being freelance to me.

    i’ve heard this too, though not that they’d let everyone go, just downsized. i feel like it’s something a lot of animators have to deal with, especially if you’re freelancing [though i know AC employees are fulltimers].

    i just got an apartment again, not sure how excited i am to be back in new york for a year…

  • amid

    roconnor: Because this is a blog. We don’t have resources—manpower, finances and otherwise—to investigate every item that arrives in our email a la traditional media organizations The current story came from a source who is verifiable and reliable which is why I went ahead and posted it. There are, in fact, more updates coming to the story shortly that confirm artists haven’t been paid at AC.

    What’s sad is that the media outlets with the money to research these stories don’t report them. So at the end of the day, you’re still getting more news from our blog than from legit ‘media’.

  • http://asteriskpix.blogspot.com roconnor

    That’s B.S. Amid.

    What resources does it take? Wait 12 hours and call Larry Schwartz.

    Instead you publish what could be scurrilous information just to get a “scoop” then hide behind the “just a blog” argument.

    Your information could well be legitimate, but it’s poor journalism and bad research to not verify sources.

    HEADLINE STORY: I heard from someone at Disney that the clap is going around and people are getting it from toilet seats! I’m just a guy writing on the internet, so I have no responsibility to look into the situation before posting it.

  • anonymous

    I’m a recent AC employee. Animation Collective is taking measures to resolve the current problems, but with the failing economy we’re all taking a hard hit. Nuff said.

  • http://gogopedro.com Gogopedro!

    A lot of my friends are dealing with this right now.
    I don’t really know what to say…

    I am a former AC Employee, and know from past experiences that working at any studio can have its rough spots. The animation industry has always been like this, But during this day and age those problems multiply rapidly.

    I just wanna say there are a Lot of great people that work there, Some of the finest artists It’s been my honor to work with since moving to the city.

    I hope this problem is granted swift resolution.

  • Dennis S.

    I for one am glad that Amid is calling our attention to this. It’s not like he is making outrageous accusations and sensationalizing the news. More importantly, I trust that he is staying on top of this to make sure that he has the most current and most reliable information.

    My prayers go out to all those who are severely affected by this. Times are truly tough right now and will certainly get tougher.

  • http://www.elliotelliotelliot.com Elliot Cowan

    I agree with roconnor…

  • Celia

    roconnor: If you are or have been an employee at AC, you wouldn’t be rising to their defense.

    Bad management is rampant in animation, and artists have every right to talk about it. Amid, thank you for starting this dialogue.

  • Jason

    **Are you looking to become the National Enquirer or Fox News of animation**

    I see that you yourself are well-informed. (sarcasm) Please, spare us the usual leftist paranoic spew against the most popular and successful cable news operation in America, and while you’re at it, kindly also refrain from your OTHER attempt to bash an entity that is only trying to inform, even if it involves news you don’t care to hear: Cartoon Brew. To phrase it more simply, for your sake: Amid is only trying to get to the bottom of this story. If you have nothing to say that either confirms or denies the rumor, why don’t you sit back, relax, take a chill pill and wait for further developments, hmmmm?

  • http://www.fatkat.ca Gene Fowler

    I totally agree with roconnor and Gogopedro!

    AC is a good company, full of good people. It’s gotta be tough to run a studio in NYC, the costs are astronomical. Especially when trying to compete with studios overseas or even here in Canada. Not to mention this economic crisis we’re all facing together.

    Tough times to be in business, let alone the animation business.

  • http://www.sugarbabiez.net Bobby Roots

    AC is good on keeping their word. They may have taken a hit but they’ll pay up quick. Give them a little more time to find the money somewhere else. They’re one of the most reliable companies I’ve worked for in that regard.

  • http://asteriskpix.blogspot.com Richard O’Connor

    Hi Celia,

    I think everyone knows that I think the work produced by Animation Collective is awful and the way they have treated the process of animation and, by extension, the people who produce is -at least -questionable.

    Does that mean someone should publish a midnight report saying they’re shutting down and not paying their artist? Only if that report is verifiably true. Which this was not.

    False reports can do a lot of damage. This happened to The Image Group about 15 years ago. Trades reported in their gossip lines that the company was going out of business. Were they? Maybe -what really did them in was the report. No one would contract them after the report -the upshot, bankruptcy and loads of (legally) unpaid workers.

    Colossal closed under similar circumstances. I’ve had an agency producer tell me they weren’t going to contract an LA studio because they heard they were in financial straits. That was over a year ago, they’re still in business and lost the work because of the rumor.

    Jason, I’m the “sarcasm” tag was meant to apply to the paragraph that follows it.

    “Word on the street” is fine for publishing certain items -the NFB release, the schedule of Tiny Toons DVDs. This is a real story involving other people’s money. To toss off a glib paragraph based on an email from a disgruntled, unpaid employee is irresponsible.

  • http://www.elliotelliotelliot.com Elliot Cowan

    Jason – you wrote “If you have nothing to say that either confirms or denies the rumor, why don’t you sit back, relax, take a chill pill and wait for further developments, hmmmm?”

    I think you’ll find that’s exactly what Roconnor was suggesting of Amid.

  • Dave Schlafman

    Maybe running a studio in Manhattan isn’t the best business model. (maybe Brooklyn is cheaper/better?) I know states like CT and MA are giving tax breaks to companies who are moving production to their states. That’s why companies such as Blue Sky recently moved to CT. I also know NYC is full of amazing talent and that’s a huge plus to open a studio there. However (and this is Amid’s point) at the end of the day, you still need to pay your employees regardless if one of the contracts comes up lame. I know these are trying times, but as employers, you have the responsibility and duty to pay your artists within 30 days. I have talked with a friend who works at AC and he basically has been working for nothing for over a month. AC says they will pay their artist once the conflict is settled, but what if AC can’t get the payment from the french studio? Then what happens to the artists?

    It’s times like these when animation artists should stop bitching about poor management and start their own animation shop. Remember WE’RE the ones who make the magic. We have more power than most think. There’s a great deal of opportunity in times like this.

  • Anonymous

    I am also a former employee of Animation Collective. When I was working there over a year ago, there were several times when we wouldn’t see paychecks on payday. The delay was almost always limited to two weeks or less, and people with financial emergencies could request being paid before the rest of the staff. So when I heard these rumors about the latest pay gap, it came as no surprise.

    I want to thank Amid for this blog in spite of its lack of concrete evidence. The New York animation scene is so small that word spreads like wildfire. Bringing these rumors (that will exist no matter what) to the attention of a mass audience enables a discussion that might lead to the community to be better informed as a whole. In a time when we’re all scared and worried for each others livelihoods, communication is important.

  • Merv

    Times are tough and members of the animation community need to be kept in the loop. Cartoon Brew is a perfect place to do it.

  • Angry Anim

    Wait– wait– the CLAP is going around here?! And I went to the bathroom this moring!!

  • yoob

    Amid isn’t bashing the company. He is making public what anyone involved already knows. This is the time when the company itself needs to step forward and let the public know if they are really screwing people or if they are not. Amid will then update the post with the company’s side of the argument. He always does.

    People in this industry are very used to getting screwed over. I commend Amid for posting this. If animators aren’t going to stick up for themselves, who will?

  • http://mymedicatedlife.blogspot.com/ Bitter Animator

    This is why, before an animator does any job, the previously negotiated fee should be left in an envelope clearly marked ‘GIFT’ in plain sight before any actual animation (which is coincidental) takes place.

  • TStevens

    Unfortunately very few studios can survive the constant ups and downs of production. For mid sized studios working longterm, on only one or two projects, the outlook is usually day to day at best. If you look back at the last twenty or thirty years there have been a staggering number of studios that have not been able to survive because one large project nearly killed them off or the entertainment market went in a new direction.

    Animation is goofy a process. It requires tons of overhead for a payoff that may not even come until long after the project is done. I am often amazed at how many people want to own thier studios when the economics of it are crazy at best.

  • anonymous

    A lot of good information has been shared.

    It’s a hard time for artists, but we need to take responsibility. WE are the artists. Stop working if you aren’t getting paid. Have a little respect for yourself and your art.
    There has always been plenty of starving artists, so don’t be one,
    go create your own work.

    Don’t work for CEO’s who were once lawyer’s with NO creative talent. This produces bad business.
    Come together and work alongside fellow ARTISTS !!!

  • Anonymous

    I hear what roconner is saying about rumours hurting a company, but the fact of the matter is that rumours about Animation Collective have been floating around since it’s inception.

    Something that really bothers me about the animation industry is that people make excuses for our companies when they’re doing the wrong thing.

    Not paying your comployees is wrong and in any other industry it wouldn’t be tolerated. Period.

    Why is it that animators put up with so much crap? What’s it going to take to bring us all together?

    Kudos to Amid to bringing this out in the open.

    P.S. And if anyone says thats “the nature of the industry,” I’d like them to turn to animator who has kids and say that.

  • David Levy

    Celia’s comments bring up a real moral problem we have in this community. We are eager to see so-called bad studios receive what they have coming, but its also important to remember that there is no 100% consensus of which are the bad studios. Do only so-called good studios deserve a benefit of the doubt? And, are all bad reports about bad studios automatically true? These are issues everyone has to work out for themselves.

    ROC is correct to point out the stakes of what could happen if misinformation is spread.

    Moments like this do draw attention to what the nature of a blog is. In part, a blog is like a journal or newspaper, but in a blog such as cartoonbrew it is really the editorials of its two brewmasters that we log on to read. In our interaction with them, their posts become conversation, not monologues. As readers and participants of cartoonbrew, we share the burden of responsibility to provide the missing perspective or piece of information that might shed light upon any situation.

  • Mike

    I think people are freaking out too much about whether or not the report of this is true. I don’t think anyone is bashing anyone or trying to jump the gun so much as just informing the people of the industry things that may be or are going on. Its no surprise to hear this news especially about a place like AC that has a long standing of mistreating their employees. As a former employee myself, I can speak from personal experience, but the bottom line is that regardless of the quality of work and past reputation of this or any studio in New York, AC employed a ton of artists, and this is bad all around for everyone. Forget about whether or not this is permanent, its no secret that they couldn’t pay their employees this time around, and hopefully they will.I hated working for this place more than anyone in New York, but it sounds like they’re trying to do the right thing in a crappy situation. People shouldn’t be slamming each other as to who right and wrong, but should perhaps show a support for those who were directly hurt by this because when it comes down to it, it’s a bad sign and illustrative of what’s going on around here. I am sure that some blogger will distort what I am saying.

  • http://www.cartoonbrew.com amid

    Gene Fowler: When you make comments like the one above, it helps to let readers know that your studio is intimately involved in co-production deals with Animation Collective. Please see the Brew’s ground rules for commenting. One of them is about disclosing personal relationships.

    Your comment, “It’s gotta be tough to run a studio in NYC, the costs are astronomical,” could just as well be applied to the artists who haven’t been paid for 3-4 months. It’s even tougher living in NYC and there’s no excuse to not pay people for this long when you have multiple productions and income streams.

  • http://rockitpack.blogspot.com :: smo ::

    haha i love celia’s “If you are or have been an employee at AC, you wouldn’t be rising to their defense.”

    i highly doubt cartoon brew reporting on late paychecks is the most scathing criticism they’ve gotten…oh wait i know!

    http://www.villagevoice.com/2005-05-31/nyc-life/animaniacs/

    if nothing else ac has been a good stable place of employment for a lot of people, and a way for a lot of us [myself included] to break into the animation industry, even if the stuff from there might not be on our reels.

    i definitely know some people who are really into this company, and a lot who are bitter, but regardless of how i feel about the “creative” choices larry’s made, a ton of really awesome artists [and producers!] have trudged through their walls [even if they haven't been given a chance to shine within them]. and it’s a shame they’re not getting paid.

    if nothing else i met some kids at a tiny skate park by the library in the village of teslin in the yukon territory who really liked kappa mikey, and that was really telling to me about how far this stuff reaches even when it just feels like factory work sometimes.

  • http://www.fatkat.ca Gene Fowler

    Sorry, my mistake about the ground rules.

    I agree with you, just living in NYC has to be tough as hell.

    I talked to Larry today, as when in business together, everything negative or positive can affect one another. I won’t go into details, as I’ll let him do that if he so chooses to. But I do believe they’re doing their best to clear this all up as soon as possible.

    Gene.

  • http://www.kohrtoons.com Rob Kohr

    Blogs are an interesting animal. Like the press, these days, they can get press credentials and all the benefits that are afforded to larger press outlets.

    The issue of whether blogs are press is still up in the air. Look at Apple v. Think Secret a few years back (http://www.engadget.com/2007/12/20/apple-shuts-down-think-secret/) they both settled. More or less though the sentiment is that blogs aren’t as carte blanche protected as news organizations.

    In the same right blogs don’t have to check sources, technically news organizations don’t either but they have a reputation, have share holders and are a large business. Blogs are much smaller and have limited time, money and resources.

    If rconner doesn’t like what is posted then read something else like AWN’s reprinted press releases. I am sure Animation Collective will not lose business because of a blog post.

    That said Cartoon Brew is a blog. It is not a news institution. For all intents and purposes we are guests on their ground, they lay the law and they are the law. They put there neck out there to get breaking news and bravo to them.

    [Disclosure: I worked on the design of this website.]

  • Dan

    Myself and a group of others who worked at another studio still have backpay from AUGUST for the same “reasons” (unjustified excuses).

    Animators and artists in general are treated like dirt even when the economy is prosperous. But in the midst of a recession, you better believe were going to be exploited even more than usual.

    As for those scolding Amid for reporting “rumours”. Personally, I’d like to thank him for bringing this to all of our attention. This sort of scandal and mistreatment of animators needs to be shared so that we can be made aware of the problems facing us ALL. Studios like these need to smarten up and recognize our agrivation. As much as they would love animation to be a form of slave labour, I see it more and more every day, every year that animation artists are becomming fed up. It’s a sad state of affairs and they need to notice this.

  • BringingSexyBack

    Would this have been brought up if the economy wasn’t in the shitter? Maybe. Has this been going on for a while? Of course. The truth of the matter is, considering we Animators do not have a union in NYC, this is as good as it’s going to get in terms of voicing our queries, theories, heartaches and bellyaches. Good post, Amid.

  • http://asteriskpix.blogspot.com Richard O’Connor

    To reiterate: I have no problem with Amid writing stories that are verified, nor do I shed tears for a shoddy and shady studio.

    There is a great issue of accountability. Just as Animation Collective is accountable to its employees, writers are accountable to their readers to present accurate information.

    The initial post was scurrilous. Its source isn’t even an Animation Collective employee but a “friend” of one. It implied that the company was closing down. This is bad form.

    Start a post saying that Animation Collective makes crappy films and has lowered the standards for every studio in the city by grotesquely undercutting bids -that’s opinion. This post is stated as fact (“rumor” is a variation on fact, not opinion).

    The content of the post is not offensive, it’s the form. Anyone who is interested in truth and justice would agree.

  • Jason

    **Don’t work for CEO’s who were once lawyer’s with NO creative talent. This produces bad business.
    Come together and work alongside fellow ARTISTS !!!**

    My heart aches when I read statements like the above, because that is EXACTLY the way things ought to be. But is it even possible? After all, non-talent has been cracking the whip over talent for, like, ever, and that applies to all aspects of show business. If a studio CAN be successfully run by artists, how come such studios are so rare? Maybe Pixar can be classified as such a place, depending on who you talk to, but…it’s still not like the old Hyperion days, and I fear those days will never happen again. There is no Walt now, just CEOs and stockholders and vice presidents running things. I feel a great deal of anxiety for animators right now, because of the double-edged sword that is CGI. It’s made animation less of an art and more of an industry, and that’s not good for artistsIMO. I’m a cartoonist/artist, and I admire you animators a great deal, but man, these days, I don’t envy you. I have friends who are animators, so I have a good idea of how tough it is out there for you. Does ANY studio have a core group of animators nowadays, like Disney’s Nine Old Men? Is that even feasible anymore?

  • BringingSexyBack

    Jason: to quote Barack, “YES, WE CAN”

  • george

    great discussion. Artists should band together. We can be can taken advantage because we focus on our art instead of the business side of things. I think a solution to this problem could be for art school to require their students to be educated in business as well as their art. Then we could start bringing the sexy back. i think you know what i’m talking about. Seriously though, why cant artists band together and work for themselves and each other? These “studios” seem like nothing more than middle men drinking your milk that you sweat and slave for.

    Also, i have been saying this for a while too. UNION- I’ll run it.

  • http://kittyhasfleaz.blogspot.com/ Felicia Spano

    BringingSexyBack says:
    “Would this have been brought up if the economy wasn’t in the shitter? Maybe. Has this been going on for a while? Of course. The truth of the matter is, considering we Animators do not have a union in NYC, this is as good as it’s going to get in terms of voicing our queries, theories, heartaches and bellyaches. Good post, Amid.”

    I couldn’t agree more!!! When or better yet, HOW can we start a union? Pardon my naivete, but how DOES a union get started? Can we perhaps (as an ENTIRE community) pull together for a mandatory meeting of sorts to discuss this?

    Although there’s lots of arguing going, I think we’ve opened up a rousing discussion. Thanks, Amid! :)

  • http://rockitpack.blogspot.com :: smo ::

    “In the same right blogs don’t have to check sources, technically news organizations don’t either but they have a reputation, have share holders and are a large business”

    journalistic integrity! whee!

    “If a studio CAN be successfully run by artists, how come such studios are so rare?”

    please note the content of amid’s post. we can’t open a studio because we’re too busy working for nothing and waiting for 2 months before we see any money.

    if i could take a financial hit i’d totally open a studio. then hire all my friends who are better than me to make awesome stuff, and teach me things! isn’t that what richard williams did?

    warners in the 40′s worked because schlesinger recognized that he wasn’t an artist and let the artists come up with ideas and designs and everything. he didn’t force is own ideas on them and take a good drawing and say “that looks like crap, make it look anime.”

    lawyers and bureaucrats can run studios. whether or not they know when to keep their mouth shut is a different story.

  • http://gogopedro.com Gogopedro!

    This conversation really got some legs didn’t it. It makes me wonder how many folks discussing this here where employees at AC.

    Maybe we should have a big fat alumni meeting……I’d go.

    Also, with all this talk of animators getting messed over it made me think again about where some production houses put their money.

    “Do they shower their management, and lavish funds on a glitzy workplace in a high rent area? Or, do they pamper the artists, and heap money into the production?”

    Maybe, moving an animation house to Queens, Brooklyn, or even the Bronx seems like it could be more affordable option for studios then midtown. Then maybe animators could possibly see a little more cash return in they’re pay.

    Heck, with the Auto industry on the skids Michigan is throwing taxbreaks to companies shooting feature films there. Why not, animation firms?

    Finally,
    Thanks to Smo for posting the Village Voice article that I’d always hear about and never read.

    I am not sure I am even logical right now….but I am tired…

    Good Night Brew..

  • david maas

    I read this with some praise for the studio management… which invites you to interpret how long I’ve been working in Europe.

    1) they communicated to their team
    2) they’re working to resolve things, again with communication

    Here in Europe, its not all that uncommon for payments to come late – a bane to freelancers and subcontractors like myself. But its so widespread that its hard to get a grip on. I’ve seen houses go down (and pop right back up with another name) leaving teams of unpaid and uninformed artists in their wake. In comparison, this (I’m going by the information that has been posted here) looks like a fairly humane encounter with bad developments.

  • http://fafcom.com John H

    I don’t if this is a dead issue yet, and for full disclosure I was working at AC for a while.

    The AC situation is a credit freeze and client payment issue. The client owes money and is holding on to it due to tough times, and the creditors that studios usually go to for bridge loans in these very situations are holding tight as well. It is common practice to use bridge loans to maintain cash flow in a deadline payment based industry. How can a studio get such a loan when no one is lending? They have been transparent with their staff and that is rare. How many animators actually know how the production they are on is monetized?

    It isn’t a good situation, especially with the holidays upon us. Hopefully all goes well, the checks start flowing and people can get back to work. The productions are there, just need to get things in order so people can get back on em.

    Looking at the other posts I wonder if Animators are sometimes too idealistic (or just not realistic enough?). Not that this is a bad thing, in fact its probably the very trait that drew us into the industry. Perhaps idealism leads people to think that the industry should accommodate you because you have a family to support, that having children means the industry should somehow become less volatile. Is it the same idealism that wants every project we work on to be a defining masterwork, a progression of artistic expression, rather than a recognition of the limitations of the budget/schedule and doing the best work we can within the confines? This idealism could also be a reason for thinking that ‘doing it on our own’ outside the studio structure will make the clients easier to deal with. That not having an boss making decisions we may not agree with will be any different than a client making decisions we may not agree with. The biggest bit of idealism is the notion of unionizing.

    Can animation in NY unionize? Animators provide a luxury item, not a commodity. This isn’t Harlan County, USA where we are bringing coal to a coal hungry nation. The masses won’t starve for lack of animation. People want their garbage taken off the curb weekly, they want automobiles and subways to get to work, they want stable educational environments for their children. All of these things have unions because steady demand shows that teachers, sanitation workers, subway employees, and auto factory workers are needed to supply that demand. Entertainment fills dvd shelves, network time slots and ipods, but what do you do when the consumer is cutting extraneous expenses from their shrinking budgets?

    Consumers stop spending and the companies who supply the goods are forced to make cuts. Ask a friend who works in an Ad agency, what is the first department a company cuts when things get tight? They will cut the Advertising budget. Our industry takes a hit on two fronts when this occurs. Firstly, jobs are lost in ad work, where freelancers or staffers provide services ranging from storyboarding and animatics to full blown animation. Secondly networks are forced to reduce quantity and quality of new content. They go for more acquisitions and inexpensive programming. Animation is an expensive process and tends to skew towards very specific demographics.

    Studios that hire us animators must maintain staff, space, lawyers, payroll fees, taxes, and equipment. They answer to clients at networks and ad agencies. They need to pursue bridge loans to maintain cash flow, secure contracts and self-promote. All this in an environment hostile to expensive productions. What incentive would studios have to ally themselves w/ an Animation Union? New York is not LA, the incentives for maintaining the entertainment industry in New York do not extend far towards animation. If a studio that is pressed for money is given a choice to use seasoned union workers or cheaper just out of college non-union workers they will often go non-union and accept the quality hit.

    In New York where very small studios pop up regularly, and close down just as regularly (whether as 2 person shops or 40 people teams) would you assume that a union structure could abide in that instability? Networks are still pushing inexpensive reality programming and relegating the bulk of animation money to preschool content (though even this could hit the skids soon, with lower levels of consumption parents may realize that the 6 Little Einsteins dvds their kids have provide enough entertainment and they don’t need to buy any Backyardigan dvds).

    I’m not against the idea of unionizing, I’m just trying to pose questions and reason out the realistic obstacles of an animation union in NY. We don’t have the leverage of providing a commodity or vital service, so what do we use as a means of making a union more palatable to networks and studios?

    wow i typed for a while. hopefully its not all gibberish!

  • http://fafcom.com John H

    addendum: i’m not promoting idealism as a bad thing! It is an integral part of our industry. Just posing some questions about the concepts that have been thrown around.

  • http://kittyhasfleaz.blogspot.com/ Felicia Spano

    John H: “Can animation in NY unionize? Animators provide a luxury item, not a commodity. This isn’t Harlan County, USA where we are bringing coal to a coal hungry nation. The masses won’t starve for lack of animation.”

    TRUE! But then there’s SAG, Actor’s Equity, IATSE, Director’s Guild of America and so on. . . .

    Granted, THEY’RE not providing a service that determines whether Americans starve or not, but artists gotta pay the bills and eat too. I think the point of a union would be to protect our rights….period.
    Only problem with that is that if we DID start a union, it wouldn’t become strong until at least 2030. Unions gain strength with time and I’m not sure if the animation community wants to wait that long for real change. However, it would help future artists in their careers.

    Of course, I’m not knocking your argument by any means. You do bring up some excellent points (like NY NOT being LA), but there has to be something we can all do to protect us from these financial strains. Animators do work hard! I’m sure you know. :)

  • chris

    Unless a NY union could help small studios get bridge loans, I don’t think they could help the situation.

    I can understand why everyone would be quick to jump on AC as I know their bad reputation. (I’ve worked there too)
    BUT, in this situation it sounds like they are trying to do things right.
    What is happening at AC is probably happening in lots of industries besides our own.

    In the future it would be best to get the rumors from someone working at the studio.

  • george

    there was an animation union in new york before, i was told. anyone know what happened to it?

  • Anonymous

    I heard there are talks in the west coast of Canada of animators joining IATSE… dunno if its true but especially considering what happened to VFX guys in Montreal with Meteor and most recently Damn FX, it may be necessary.

    http://forums.cgsociety.org/showthread.php?f=59&t=652434&page=1&pp=15

    I think its stories like these and even if it IS rumours, stuff like what’s happening with AC, its really important that we pay attention. Felicia Spano is spot on with her comments. Personally, I have to think if this stuff is happening even in New York, we really need to be frightened and think about how and what we do for whom.

    As for the whole “journalistic integrity” thing… while that kind of idealism is nice, and all the warnings and talks of “justice”, i think justice for the little guy has been a long time coming. If people haven’t been paid, I don’t think you can get more real than that. So go on and spew your company line for your greater cause.

    I prefer Amid’s realism over fox news, so for what its worth, bravo Amid..

  • http://www.stephenstudios.com Stephen M. Levinson

    @roconnor: It’s completely acceptable for Amid to publish something like this. Amid got a tip from someone who knows an actual worker for (or who worked for) animation collective; a reliable source. It’s Amid’s understanding that it’s true, giving him the right to post it. You can’t prove he didn’t research it at all. It’s called the Malice Test, New York v. Sullivan, look it up.

  • http://asteriskpix.blogspot.com Richard O’Connor

    Of course Amid has the right to post whatever he likes. Did I suggest otherwise?

    I stated that this post is scurrilous and poorly researched.

    With the information that came forth just a few hours after the BREAKING NEWS, it is clear that the this posting preferred to be inflammatory instead of thought out. “Fair and balanced” as it were.

    The initial post [i]is[/i] incorrect. It implies that no one from that company is getting paid. This is clearly not the case.

    Justice for the little guy! The dove coats! The dove coats!

    How precisely do poorly researched philippics help the “little guy”?

    As for the union discussion: It is extremely difficult to form a union in the U. S.

    I was part of a union drive at The New School a few years back, the laws regarding collective bargaining are tight. It could only start in a large shop like Animation Collective (what- it’s a “collective” share and share alike) that doesn’t have the clout of Viacom-owned Nick Digital (whose existence is clearly a violation of the Sherman Act).

    The nature of the industry in NY isn’t compatible with labor law in the US.

  • selvagem

    dunno much about the US but what’s this then?

    http://www.animationguild.org/

  • John H

    update: For the past month or so AnCo has caught up on back pay and started bringing people back. Mud makes a new post, updates not so much.

  • Me

    I’m having a problem getting my pay from them as well.

  • French Player

    Bottom-line: there is revenues and there are expenses. One needs to cash flow both. Once that exercise is done, you can see trouble coming miles ahead. It’s all about competent management. You always know if you can make payroll or not. The rest is all about transparency and /or opportunisism…Let’s not kid ourselves, to many studios live beyond their means and at the end, the employees will always pay the bill. Producer fees are sacred, not payroll. It’s not about NYC or Brooklyn; it’s about making good animation that will sell worldwide, establishing a sain business model, hiring good talent and staying on schedule. The rest is just complaining and bullshit.