Work For Free on a “Cartoon Network Pilot”

A Cartoon Brew reader pointed out this blatant ad on Craigslist asking animation artists to work on a Cartoon Network pilot with no guarantee of payment unless the show gets picked up for series. The ad reads:

Deferred payment 1st episode (no-pay), action/adventure series, Cartoon Network, paid assignments and/or production contract after 1st episode.

We decided to take the bait and contact them to find out who’s blessing the Internet with this wonderful opportunity to work for free. Here’s the response from Associate Producer Sasha Tyler at McNeal Enterprises:

Pilot/series is being produced for Cartoon Network, deferred pay 1st-ep(no-pay), regular pay other eps and/or production contract, in moving forward contact the project’s executive producer Kenny Mack, let him know position your interested in, strengths, skills, availability, etc; [email protected] or 800 481-9754 x 4, PST.

Their website offer no information about what they do, but I found another website of theirs that displays an awfully lame and generic looking action-adventure show called The Savior Chronicles. Sounds like a good match.

The only question that remains: Is Cartoon Network stupid enough to give these amateurs a pilot deal or are they sneakily using Cartoon Network’s name to trick young and inexperienced artists into working on a lame project for free? Either way, this company’s business practices have fail written all over them.


  • Tony Claar

    Exploitation of animation workers by any other name would stink just as much. Shameless. Anyone stupid and naive enough to allow these corporate fools to take advantage of them deserves not to be paid. Caution! Stay away! Oh, the show itself sounds like a total loser, too.

  • Jonah Sidhom

    That preview really was terrible.
    I don’t think CN, or anyone for that matter, is dumb enough to give them a pilot deal.

  • Blik

    The best is it seems as if it’s a “christian” organization. Either that or they’re exploiting “christians,” too!

  • http://deleted OtherDan

    I’m glad you’re exposing this. That’s pretty F’d up!

  • Tiki Idyll

    Amusing that in the subheading for the “Savior Chronicles” they have “Savior” mispelt as “Savrior”. Gives a really professional air to the whole thing.

  • John

    Tiki Idyll: Oh, that’s nothing – check out the show’s description:

    http://www.jaygrewall.com/macV/TheSaviorChronicles.html

  • http://www.bishopanimation.com Floyd Bishop

    This is nothing new, and it’s hardly limited to Cartoon Network.

  • JPilot

    Cartoon Network? Aren’t they a live action show channel now?

  • Stan

    These aren’t even corporate villains. They’re WANNABE corporate villains.

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

    can’t believe it doesn’t say: “great opportunity!”

    “work at spec for cartoon network pilot that if they deign to show interest in they’ll sit on for the next 5 years before you hear anything about it again and actually have an opportunity to work!”

  • amid

    Floyd: Just because something bad happens all the time doesn’t make it any less worthy of attention. The more people who are informed of these shady operations, the stronger the community will be.

  • Kasey

    haha..the “Savrior” chronicles sounds like the worst batman ripoff in history.

    When I first came out of college I was conned a couple times by sweet promises of “payment if sold.” Maybe all young animators have to learn from craiglist mistakes like this one.

    This reminds me of a story that a veteran animator told me once. When she had just graduated she was offered work on a film but in the contract was a condition that stated if the studio did not like the work she did they would not pay her for it. She ended up spending three months animating a complicated scene with a car and at the end of it they refused to pay her stating the animation was below their standards. Well she managed to get another job shortly after and forgot the whole thing…until the movie came out.

    and her car animation was there frame for frame just as she had drawn it.

    be careful young animators there are sharks in these waters.

  • http://www.tuortoart.blogspot.com Patrick

    Amid, I saw the posting this morning and I’m glad you brought attention to this. It’s stinks that people will be so bold as to try to get something for nothing, capitalizing on others whom might be desperate and/or out of work. Totally unethical!

  • Mitch Kennedy

    “Submissions: resume, links to work, _equipment_ and skills.” Haha Provide your own equipment. Good one!

  • Disgusted

    The first question here is if Cartoon Network is aware of this ad and the work for free policy it is endorsing.’

    The second question is where is the union on this issue, since Cartoon Network has a contract with Local 839 and this kind of garbage needs a response from them. Here is their website where you can ask them:
    http://animationguildblog.blogspot.com/

    But then the union has always been disturbingly cozy with the executives of stagnated studios. It was only a year ago when the head of development got canned at CN and I asked in the comments section of the site if they had thoughts on the matter, but was rebuffed by our rep that “Its to upsetting for me to see good people go”.

  • David

    Blik wrote: “The best is it seems as if it’s a “christian” organization. Either that or they’re exploiting “christians,” too! “
    ———

    How do you figure McNeal Enterprises is a “christian” or Christian organization, Blik ?

    Are you drawing dome inference because of the name of their superhero series , “Savior” ? Give me a break. Many classic superheros from Kal-El on down the line have had quasi-religious savior overtones, but that doesn’t mean much. McNeal Enterprises “Savior” sounds like a Batman rip-off , nothing more. It says nothing about the particular religious convictions of the people producing it .

    (but as an aside to the McNeal Enterprises people, if you are reading this and if you do happen to have religious convictions: the principle “You Shall Not Steal” is a good one to live by and that includes NOT stealing from animators. I think it’s highly doubtful that you currently have a deal with Cartoon Network. You just want to produce your pilot for cheap , then try to pitch it to CN . You shouldn’t be implying that the project is officially commissioned by CN or that the project is anything other than a spec project from an unproven producer. The likelihood that CN would buy it is slim to none. )

  • Blik

    No. But because several of their other shows in development are “christian.”

    and in fact, they ARE a “christian” based organization. Like Miracle studios.

  • vzk

    Savior looks more like a Spawn ripoff than a Batman one.

  • http://tomboycomics.blogspot.com Emily

    I can’t think of any other industry that has a news website that would publicly cover and denounce craigslist offenses to unemployed artists.

    Very cool for us. There are too many horrible craigslist ads like that out there, and they usually get taken down. But I guess when you “borrow” a name like Cartoon Network, you automatically sound more legit. My boyfriend tells me about ads on craigslit for comic artists that ask for things like an entire comic book done on spec. Grrr.

  • pappy d

    You can’t say they’re not honest about it. Maybe nowadays, paying animators is just as dumb as paying full retail for a DVD. Well, if the workman’s not worth his hire…

    I don’t doubt CN is involved. Massanimation has backing from Intel & Dell and here comes Fox:

    http://www.aniboom.com/competition/fox

    I wonder if someone has written some simple software to replace animation management. Computers ought to be good at that sort of thing

  • http://www.kohrtoons.com Robert K

    “In a time spear-headed by bad plots…” OMG their site is hilarious. This is almost on the level of students who use a made up company name as their “production company” after their student film, except that they don’t really have a “production company”.

    I did for a time work on a smallish project and an unnamed NYC studio that basically made the same promise, I went to 2 meetings then stopped realizing I was #1 wasting my time and #2 wasting more time.

    As for computers replacing animators, not likely. I have a developer at work who I had an argument that she could animate a walk cycle using an algorithm. The person took on a walk cycle animation project, but couldn’t finish… in the end I had to come in and animate it the good ‘ol fashioned way. So much for computers.

  • http://www.milowerx.com Mike Milo

    They may claim to be Christian but I doubt they really are.
    That is just shameful.
    How about if the CEO works for free too, and the producer, and why not the editor and the rest of the studio. In fact, maybe the landlord should let them live there for free, and the restaurant down the street should allow them to eat for free too. All of course repayable when their incredible concept gets green lit. Oh wait, you don’t make any real money until you’ve been in syndication for three years… Well okay after three years everyone will get their deferred payment.
    For sure!

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

    I’m hope they get the help they need to complete this exciting project.

  • http://jamalotolorin.blogspot.com/ Jamal Otolorin

    Good thoughts.

    There has been alot of this type of “thing” going on as of late. The internet is an awesome TOOL, giving Artists the world over an Audience and an Outlet. Thats a GOOD thing. But now, OTHERS are trying to harness the power of the internet into locating FREE WORK. That’s a BAD thing..unless your the unscrupulous party getting the freebies.

    I was going to point out the FOX & Aniboom competition. No comment there.

    Why ppl think its great to Give your ideas to Networks is beyond me
    I’ve worked in Television, and unless your a Mega name it pretty much goes like this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xU57gP0Kzw

  • David

    Mike Milo wrote: “They may claim to be Christian but I doubt they really are.”
    ——–

    Mike, I agree. However, despite what was insinuated earlier I see nothing on McNeal Enterprises’ website that would indicate anything where they claim to be a “Christian-based” company . (maybe they do someplace else , but it’s not in evidence on their website that was linked to above) . The only vaguely religious show they have listed in their many “upcoming” projects is some children’s music DVD called “Kids Praize” , but that’s grouped in there amongst DVD’s on hair styling, interior decorating, exercise work-outs , and cooking . So those activities are all supposed to be religious , too ?

    But no matter what their professed religious beliefs or lack thereof if they are trying to get people to work on their projects for free with the lure of “deferred payment” when the show is presumably picked up by CN then that is a big red flag that should warn anyone to stay far, far away from that project.

  • http://davidessman.com david essman

    how is this any different than cartoon network’s (and nickelodeon’s) internship programs? neither of THEM pay. it’s even beyond work for free, as the student still has to pay school tuition to earn course credit, so in essence interns are paying to work there.

  • Executive President Senior Producer Executive

    but guys, animation is FUN. It shouldn’t matter if you get PAID for it!

  • http://www.fooksie.com Fooksie

    I just know that you all will be jealous of me once I get my ” Savior ” soundtrack, filled with ” blaz’n Hip-Hop, R& B, Soul, and More”!

  • http://chrisbattleillustration.blogspot.com/ Chris Battle

    @ Disgusted: While Cartoon Network STUDIOS is a union signatory shop, many of the independently-run studios that provide the NETWORK’S programming are not, so the union has no jurisdiction in the matter.

    … However, I would doubt they really are associated with CN.

  • http://one1more2time3.wordpress.com/ hans bacher

    they are thiefs all around, and they use the internet for their profit. one of my students saw an offer of $ 200 for the flash production of a 4 min music clip on a deviant-art website. she did it and told me too late about it. $ 200 is still a lot of money here in the philippines, but it is a joke for this kind of job, and it kills jobs in professional studios. I am afraid practices like that are growing, and these thiefs are using more and more the un-experience in third world countries.

  • Disgusted

    Chris, there used to be a wide array of independent studio that provide programming for Cartoon Network(see: “when the network used to be good”), but for many years now, all major programming has been in house. The only part of that entire network that continues to farm work out to small studios is Adult Swim. They are the lone exception. They even established themselves as a satellite studio by moving across town from the corporate offices.

  • http://chrisbattleillustration.blogspot.com/ Chris Battle

    Actually, there’s a significant amount of Canadian-produced content (6teen, Total Drama Island, Johnny Test) on CN these days, as well as non TAG domestic boutique studio output (Secret Saturdays, Mr. Men, and prior to concellation, Puffy Ami Yumi and Kids Next Door). Batman: B&B is produced @ Warner Bros. (A TAG studio), and Clone Wars is done by Lucasfilm (non-TAG)

    My point remains the same, tho– Anything done outside of CN Studios is not covered under CNS’ TAG contract.

  • http://ratso.podomatic.com Carl Russo

    Independent filmmakers are used to this type of scam. Haven’t any of you bristled at the high admission fees charged to enter most film festivals? You pay for the POSSIBILITY of having your film shown. They MAY tell you if your film is accepted, but often you must keep checking their websites.

    If you’re lucky you’ll get an invitation to attend at your own expense, and if you’re really lucky, they’ll mail you a program. Payment? After my short was screened in 48 festivals–a great feather in my cap but an expensive feather–I received a $25 check from a lone festival. I nearly wet my pants!

    Better if I had posted on YouTube and put all the entry and shipping fees into my next project!

  • Tom

    If you agree to work for free on someone else’s vision in return for a piece of the action, please make sure that the project your working on is amazing. Otherwise, you’ll be taking orders from some talentless wannabe.

    Better still: get paid for your work.

    And if you’re making a show and don’t want to pay for the work, be warned that you get exactly what you pay for.

  • Russell H

    This sort of thing is so rampant in the publishing business that Science Fiction Writers of America has a whole committee devoted to warning its members by exposing and publicizing scams, such as “agents” or “publishers” who demand payments from authors for handling their work, or who demand all the author’s rights, or who invoke all sorts of contrived contingencies to avoid payment to authors. One publisher actually required writers to pay several hundred dollars for copies of their guidelines of what kinds of books they wanted to publish. Turned out to be half-a-dozen badly photocopied pages filled with typos and grammatical errors.

    SFWA’s been threatened with lawsuits several times over this, but none of the scammers has ever won.

  • Anonymous

    “Is Cartoon Network stupid enough to – -”

    YES

  • http://www.ctnanimationexpo.com Tina Price

    Where is The Animation Guild on this issue? Cartoon Network is a union studio.

    TAG Phone: 818 766 7151
    http://www.animationguild.org/_Home/home_FRM1.html

  • Marv

    That canned head of CN development recently surfaced at another Burbank studio. One shop’s fresh blood is another’s toxic plasma. Pappy D’s idea of a simple computer program replacing those people is more than valid.

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com FP

    The “preview” at the site tells me two things:
    SAVIOR has the power to turn his head!
    and
    The soundtrack is part of Holst’s “Mars”. The organization that claims to control copyright on that work has an ongoing lawsuit against Hans Zimmer and Universal for infringement on the GLADIATOR soundtrack. (It’s a mystery to me how copyright has been legally maintained for a 1915 composition.) Will the producers of SAVIOR CHRONICLES get a cyst-and-decease letter?

  • Looney Lover

    Hmm. So pretty much you give them a free idea, make the pilot for free, CN gets it, has no clue what to do with it once they have the finished pilot, they eventually bring on a new exe and throw out all the previously developed pilots and no one gets paid.

    Sounds like a pretty standard deal to me.

  • http://tangoland.com Cynthia

    Just the fact that you found it on Craigslist!!!

  • ehhh…

    I saw this posted on Mandy.com as well.

  • http://racattackforce.wordpress.com/ RacattackForce

    I like how the comments went on about CN being involved when TAG stated that the network doesn’t know what the hell this was about just days after this post was made.

  • JC

    I see what you’re saying. And I welcome any comments you guys have. I just now tonight used craigslist for the first time. I’m a writer, I wrote a 40 page script for a Japanimation cartoon. I would love to see it get made, I’m looking for animators that believe in it as much as I do. I can’t pay any money, I can only promise the credit for their work. And if its picked up everyone involved will be taken care of. Is it wrong of me to try n do this? In your opinion. Thanks.