Oops: Family Moves Cross-Country For Non-Existent Digital Domain Job

Evidence has emerged that even as Digital Domain was running on fumes and had no cash to operate its Florida studio, they continued hiring people from around the United States. That leads us to the tragic story of the Alberts family, who arrived in Florida from New Hampshire on the day DD shuttered its Port St. Lucie-based Tradition Studios. Now, the family of five is homeless with no job and just $200.

(Photo via Shutterstock)


  • Short on Cash

    I feel for them.
    DD/Tradition still owes me over ten grand in unpaid invoices. I am unsure if I’ll see it. I tried to contact the business office, but only got a “this is no longer a working number” recording.

  • http://deaniac.deviantart.com Deaniac

    It’s tragic that people are losing this jobs because of this whole fiasco, but I think this article could do without the “OOPS” in the title. It just seems kinda disrespectful.

    • http://www.amidamidi.com Amid

      This is a story about a family that is struggling to put food into their children’s mouths and you’re debating whether the use of the word ‘oops’ is appropriate to describe their situation? Time to grow up dude.

      • Funkybat

        I think Deaniac’s point was that the “OOPS” seems like a bit of out-of-place levity, if not indirect blame, being cast upon some innocent people who have just been truly and royally screwed.

      • http://www.spungella.com Jean-Denis Haas

        Funkybat is right. The situation is horrible and putting “oops” into the title takes away from the seriousness. It’s totally inappropriate and then to say “Time to grow up dude” makes it even worse. Time to grow up yourself in this case and change the title. Come on. Oops?

        • http://www.amidamidi.com Amid

          Jean-Denis Haas – If only you cared as passionately about this family’s predicament as you do about my writing. Considering that we’re the only animation blog that actually bothered to report this family’s story, your smug moral posturing is misplaced. Just move on.

          • http://www.spungella.com Jean-Denis Haas

            “Considering that we’re the only animation blog that actually bothered to report this…”

            And you say that *I” am posturing? Wow.

            It’s important to report this tragedy and I’m glad that you posted the story. People should spread the word. But your attitude really is baffling.

            Moving on.

          • animguy

            How is it that the rest of the animation “news” community is collectively asleep at the wheel about this story? New features in cinema 4d? Front page. Serious news that is directly applicable to your job and career? snore.

        • Lock

          Agreed.

  • Fang

    Wow, a moving company ad before this bad news, i bet this is not a coincidence…

    Good luck to the people that lost their jobs

  • Toonio

    Like many other companies, Digital Domain was managed on speculation but they got tangled on their own web of lies. Which is fair because the cost of incompetence should be failure.

    However seeing how the execs get a tax sponsored windfall while families get hammered and left homeless without a penny in return, makes me crazy mad.

    Something had to change yesterday on corporate mismanagement. Time to write your representatives or consider vote them out if they don’t push for more criminal laws for white collar weasels.

    May the Alberts come back on their feet soon to make this awful situation a thing of the past.

    • Funkybat

      If there were any justice, the folks who made out like bandits on this would be forced to forfeit the money Florida gave them back to the state of Florida and/or the people laid off because of this fiasco.

  • JM WALTER

    It´s so ironic and sad that when I clicked play to watch this video. I got an instant commercial advertising a Luxury yacht cruise.

    • Iritscen

      In a sort of reversal of that irony, some of us are getting an ad for a moving company instead.

  • Satorical

    Textor and members of the board should help this family.

    • cjseaton

      If I remember right, CB even listed how much his multiple homes were worth. You’d think he could sell at least one of them to make up for all of the money his company is losing/lost.

  • http://www.fooksie.com Fooksie

    Incredibly sad. I can’t even begin to imagine the heartbreak they are experiencing.

  • Scared Animator

    This heart break is playing out all over today! The fear happing will sometimes be unbearable. please everyone hang in there. Everything in this world is temporary . Good and Bad . So hug the ones you love
    This is making me sick to my stomach .. Lots of love everyone !

  • ManUp

    [Comment removed by editors. Per our commenting guidelines, "It is OK to post with a nickname or alias, but your email address (which we will NEVER share publicly), must be a real, permanent email address. Comments with fake or non-permanent emails will be deleted."]

  • Hannah

    is there any where i can donate to this family?

    • Cristin

      I’m wondering the some thing.

    • ShouldBeWorkin’

      I would hope at least to get them through the interim.
      She’s in finances, right?
      Maybe she can bounce back.

      Situation absolutely sucks. In media other than the internet I haven’t heard about this….unless it seems one lives in Florida or watches Florida TV.

    • http://gregpetch3d.com Greg Petchkovsky

      There’s an email address for the Alberts family ([email protected]) in the article here: http://www.wptv.com/dpp/news/region_st_lucie_county/port_st_lucie/family-moves-cross-country-for-nonexistent-digital-domain-job

      Paypal donation time people,

  • Charles M.

    My heart-felt sympathy goes out to the family but I can’t help shaking the feeling that they must have heard about something regarding the company defaulting on that loan? Not to be skeptical or anything, but that’s big news not to miss. I mean you sold virtually everything you own….well, I hope everything works out for them.

    • Lara

      I’m sure they had. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were told that the relocation budget was cut, but they need her in the financial department to turn things around. They and the company’s relocation specialist were probably advised to proceed as planned.

      Roughly estimating by the family details I saw in the clip, a relocation through a moving company could easily cost into five figures, so they probably had heard the company was in trouble and were trying to help cut costs in exchange for this opportunity.

  • http://www.fooksie.com Fooksie

    Charles, I agree. Back in ’93, I was hired by a Georgia production company as the assistant art director. We were living in NJ at the time. The company helped us rent an apartment, etc. We started the move on Thursday, June 17th, my birthday.
    The entire time before the move, I kept calling, checking on stuff,making sure that it wasn’t a dream.
    My point is, not to be a jerk, but I think that they could have been a little more proactive before they moved their entire lives down the coast of the Eastern seaboard.
    If things hadn’t been kosher in Georgia, we would have immediately turned back to New Jersey, because that is where our friends and family were.

    • LA_Editor

      Here’s the thing… no one in Florida (probably other than Textor and upper mgt.) had any indication that this was a possibility. Textor personally told the Florida crew that their jobs were “secure” two days before they were laid off.

      No matter how ‘proactive’ these folks were, they would’ve been told that “everything is fine” and to proceed as planned. As far as they knew, they were heading to a studio with a long slate of projects lined up.

    • Matt

      I have a buddy who finished an interview with DD 30 minutes before the announcement of the closing. My point is that DD/Tradition was operating as if everything was completely normal, right up to the very end.

      Plus, news of the financial trouble came very quickly before the shut down and once all the things are in motion for a move like that, it’s hard to stop the train. You tend to just hope for the best at some point.

  • d. harry

    Step up Textor – look after this family with a bit of your own money.

  • DD Victim #157

    This story broke my heart. While my family too is now stranded in Port St Lucie, we at least have a few months of rent left (I contacted the Alberts and let them know they could stay with us for a few months free of charge if they like).

    Anyway, I can clear up one thing about the “They must have known comment”. Tuesday morning we had an all hands meeting called upon by John Textor. There, he spent nearly an hourly assuring us that everything was fine. To the point that I can even quote him saying “even if things get the absolute worse, we will not be closing down this studio!”. I was shocked at the closing. Even with the financial problems that showed up earlier in the week.

    I knew this would be a risk for my family to take (to take the job at DD Florida). But, I at least figured that the first film would be made, giving me 1-2 years of employment. To reiterate the shock. On thursday night, I left work extremely excited about having some work approved by the highest level creative people. Then friday morning came…

  • ShouldBeWorkin’

    A lot of conjecture about they should’ve-known/probably knew. That’s crazy talk. Who would put their kids in that sacrifice? They strike me as sincerely side-blinded; people caught up in the “music man” promise to be a part of the film industry.

  • Jonathan

    I find it incredibly disturbing that you have people like John Textor, Wall Street Bankers, etc. who are making tons of money and at the same time knowingly running their companies into the ground, screwing over hard working employees and other people, and walking away with millions of dollars after destroying their company with no punishment.

  • http://miaumau.blogspot.com/ Sandra

    they are still advertising on creative heads o_O
    http://www.creativeheads.net/job-search/digital-domain/florida/1

    • Pedro Nakama

      Probably because they let the person go who is suppose to update that.

  • Pedro Nakama

    I know people who got fired from Sony In Albuquerque and went to Florida only to get fired down there.

  • ChillRobSki

    Hi Amid,

    Is there anyway Cartoon Brew can sponsor a donation drive or social media job connection threads for these artist and there families? My wife and I would definitely donate, ask our employers to look at a resume/portfolio and even give a contact for a laid off worker if possible.

    I’m not sure how this would work or if there are privacy or legal issues but I don’t want to just read about this tragedy. I want to help! Thanks Amid, Cartoon Brew and the animation community for listening. We are a community of big hearts and generosity! Lets show our colleagues what we are made of. My apology for my inarticulate post.

  • http://www.animatorisland.com/ J.K. Riki

    I’m very confused. These folks sold all they owned and now have $200 to their name. How exactly does that work? I don’t understand. Did they sell everything they owned for $200? Because that either seems like a really bad idea, or they didn’t own anything previously (in which case I’m not sure how their situation is much different than now). If they owned a home before, where did the money from selling that home go? Surely it doesn’t cost tens/hundreds of thousands of dollars to drive from New Hampshire to Florida.

    It is truly a terrible, terrible situation, and my heart goes out to the folks who are being affected by not having a job to support their families. Something in this particular news story doesn’t add up, though. Something makes no sense.

    • http://www.animatorisland.com/ J.K. Riki

      EDIT: Upon further thought, it’s possible the family had zero savings, in which case they could have spent the money from selling their stuff on the apartment rental. Whether that’s the case or not, I don’t know. That said, I think this is a great opportunity for us all to see the valuable lesson that we should absolutely put away money in savings every chance we get, because things like this WILL happen in life. We can plan for it, but only if we’re willing to.

    • Matt

      Have you ever had to relocate your family cross-country for a job? It costs thousands of dollars… even if you don’t use movers.

      I turned down an offer from DD/Tradition recently. They were giving me a relocation package, but it was only going to be a reimbursement package. I would have had to organize and pay for everything, and they would reimburse all the expenses.

      They might have had no savings, and been underwater on a mortgage, or had to break a lease on a rental. Plus come up with apartment deposits, rent u-hauls or pay for movers. Money dries up really fast in these situations.

      • http://www.animatorisland.com/ J.K. Riki

        “Have you ever had to relocate your family cross-country for a job? It costs thousands of dollars… even if you don’t use movers. ”

        No, I haven’t. That’s why I was trying to get a better picture of the whole situation. I’ve only moved locally, and it cost next to nothing (just time and effort). You can understand my confusion, especially since the news story said they “sold everything they owned” (hence, not needing a truck or movers) so I don’t know how that would cost thousands of dollars, right?

        Once again I’m not trying to be unsympathetic, I just want to understand the whole situation so I can hopefully avoid anything like that for my family. It sucks someone has to go through this, but if we can learn lessons from it then at least we can hopefully prevent future families from the same fate.

  • http://vimeo.com/kirbyallen Kirby

    Amid, it would do you well to not indulge those challenging your wording. Especially since your blog has turned into the animation industries People Magazine since this whole Digital Domain fiasco went down. You’re capitalizing once again on a lot of people’s misfortunes, Textor’s included and you’re telling others to grow up?

    • jfogden

      @Kirby – what happened to Textor is not “misfortune” – he made this happen through ineptitude and arrogance.
      Misfortune:
      A: Bad fortune or ill luck.
      B: The condition resulting from bad fortune or ill luck

      Textor’s failure to manage a company had nothing to do with fortune or luck. Textor effed up.

  • Alberts family

    Dear Cartoon Brew,

    My name is Aaron Alberts and we were the family that were affected by this situation. Your site has not only brought attention to our situation, but also to the 280 people who also lost their jobs. I applaud you. I have spent hours reviewing what your website does, how responsible and how seriously your viewers take this site and I am overwhelmed at your persistence into what is really at stake for people in the animation fields and beyond. I am touched by your outreach, by the personal outreach from your supporters and I would love to tell you exactly what Digital Domain told us, why we did what we did, and what is not getting reported. Sincerely, aaron alberts.

    • http://www.animatorisland.com/ J.K. Riki

      That would be terrific Aaron! We’re all very sorry you have to go through this, but if you could share your story with others then maybe we can avoid getting into a similar unfortunate situation. I’m curious as to “what is not getting reported” especially, because this news story doesn’t seem to tell a complete picture.

      Much luck to you! Your family is in my prayers.

  • FilmBuffRich

    Good news: Deadline is reporting that Legend 3D is looking to hire as many former DD employees as possible for their 3D conversion company.

    Bad News: The company is based in San Diego, meaning another cross-country move for people. Perhaps Legend will cough up some relocation assistance?

    Source – http://www.deadline.com/2012/09/global-biz-briefs-australian-actors-bce-plans-online-movie-service-legend-3d-digital-domain/

  • Mark Sonntag

    I feel for these people, I applied for a story position back in February last year upon someone’s request. Being in Australia I never thought I’d get the job as I expect rightfully should go to a US citizen first, and really, I didn’t care to anyhow. I already had enough offers which were tangible. Boy am I glad I never heard from them. Digital Domain used to be a name that meant something, now it’s mud.

  • shako

    Disgusting !! I keep on hearing this distasteful stories about how these studios treat their employees and leave them in a sinking boat and still, we animators and digital industry workers are so scattered.I feel this system of unorganized industry is created to support these giants. While these gross mistakes are kept under the carpet,workers keep working as temporary employee fearing every second when he/she will be laid off without proper rhymes or reason(sometimes just coz production don’t have money but puts the blame on the worker). I am sick and tired of this industry ! There is no regulations here.