Monday, December 17, 2007
The Other Side of the Coin
Some of the comments on my last blog post have inspired me to address a related topic. Last week my blog post was about how animation artists navigate working in a non-union animation town such as NYC. Some of the emphasis was on how animation artists can work together without the union and improve working conditions as well as studio policies. Recently, last week in fact, “permalance” workers from Viacom’s MTV networks walked off the job after their benefits and health plan were severely cut back. Among those who walked out was the entire NYC animation department at Nickelodeon. After a few short days, Viacom made some concessions and the crews returned to work. In this example, management was equally effected by the cutbacks, so the general staff had their bosses right there on the picket line with them. Still, it takes courage to walk off a job under any circumstance, so the Nickelodeon animation staff deserves our kudos and respect.
But, this posting isn’t about the above labor action. It’s about individual responsibility, which is the other side of the coin on this issue. Some students graduate with a sense of entitlement. They believe they’re owed something because of the great time and expense they just put into their education. The first five years of a typical animation career is the time when experience should be the prime consideration, far above getting the highest salary. The pay I earned while working at my first job at Michael Sporn Animation was not the biggest dollar in town. There was far more money to be earned at that time at Jumbo Pictures or MTV. But, I was working at one of the only studios in town that did animation from start to finish. The bottom line was that I was in the best place I could be to learn. And I had a lot to learn (still do!). Besides, Sporn paid a fair and generous dollar based on his budgets. If you follow the almighty dollar as your only compass you may have a very sorry career to show for it. I never heard of anyone ever choosing this industry to strike it rich. If that’s your plan, you’re probably setting yourself up for a big fall.
Yes, I understand that students fresh out of school have student loans. These loans represent your investment in yourself. If you’re looking for a quick return on that investment and believe that others owe that to you, then, you’ve already sold yourself way short. This is a business about relationships and reputation. These are your two greatest assets that you should guard with your life. Get over your sense of entitlement and start building your career. Opportunities I now have are the result of 12 years of making personal films, creating and pitching projects, taking on freelance opportunities in addition to full time work, teaching at three universities, and networking/volunteering through ASIFA-East. I have no anger or disappointment. I never believed that anyone owed me a damned thing. I’m too busy being grateful that I get to work in the field of my choice. Turn the mirror on yourself before you look to vent your frustrations elsewhere.