Thursday, May 24, 2012

We Get E-Mail

... and were asked:

Where is the animation industry going? Cuz from what JK said in the meeting and the way there are no jobs in our field in this country...I am really starting to doubt it's going to go in a good direction in the next few years. and I don't think i can live on nothing for another 5-10 yrs or however long its gonna take for it to get fixed. ...

The reply:

To answer your question, I don’t think it’s possible to predict where the industry is going in five or ten-year increments.

When I started at Disney in 1976, the business was a small and sleepy backwater. There was Hanna-Barbera, there was Disney features, there were some smaller television houses with a total of 1400-1500 Animation Guild members working in a business that was mostly union.

About half of the AG members were women working in ink-and-paint. (The Guild was then called “The Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists.”)

In 1976, Hanna-Barbera was doing television animation here in town. This production work came to an end over the next few years, and the Animation Guild did two industry-wide strikes to try and keep more of it here. The strike worked in 1979 and failed in 1982. And tv animation went to Japan, Korea, and later China. Filmation, the last television animation studio to do its animation in L.A., closed its doors in 1989.

I started as TAG business agent soon after. There were then 700 active members. “The Little Mermaid” hadn’t been released yet, and Warner Bros. Animation was just beginning to come back to life. If somebody had told me in ‘89 that the animation business would double and then double again over the next ten years, I would not have believed them. I would have said it would stay an eccentric little subset of the movie industry instead of the power-house it has become.

The above is a long-winded way of saying (again): “I’m not a good prognosticator.”

So now that we have THAT established, where do I think the business is going between now and 2022? I think it will continue to grow. I think animated features and visual effects movies are big drivers in the film business, and will go on being big drivers, that lots of the work will be done in Southern California because that’s where the most experienced talent pool is, but there will also be production in China, New Zealand and Australia, production in Europe and India. And, of course, Canada. (But tax subsidies don't last forever.)

If it were just a matter of quantity and cost, there would be no work in California NOW. But I’ve learned over the years that cost is only one part of the whole equation. India has made some really inexpensive animated features, but most of them have lost money because audiences stayed away in droves.

Chinese animators are quite proud of “Pleasant Goat and the Big Bad Wolf” taking in $20.6 million domestically, but “Kung Fu Panda” grossed $100 million in China. It’s not enough to be cheap, you must also be good enough to make money.

Right now, the Animation Guild is near historical highs in membership. This month, we brought in another 19 people, so SOMEBODY out there is employing people. (Having said all that, there are plenty of artists who are unemployed at any given moment in time, and I know people who are hurting. But the overall numbers indicate that the business as a whole is not in a slump.) ...

Hope this helps.


Diablo said...

Steve Hulett said...

The above is Curt Schilling's startup in Rhode Island. Curt Believes in less government and lower taxes, so I was confused by this:

After missing a $1.1 million payment May 1 and a personal plea from Schilling for more public assistance this week, 38 Studios has said it does not not have enough money to pay its employees. On Wednesday, the state economic development official who oversaw the loan guarantees resigned abruptly.

Being "on the dole" is okay if you're a corporation. Otherwise, not so much.

Anonymous said...

Cuz from what JK said in the meeting

Meeting? What meeting? What did he say?

Christopher Sobieniak said...

I thought we were through with the anonymous postings?

Steve Hulett said...

We don't respond to anonymous postings. Why bother?

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