This past Monday was a rough day in New York animation.
A studio named Animagic, that'd been developing a PBS show called NATE THE GREAT for many many months now, layed off their entire staff. Kaput; the show's over for them.
We, at the VENTURE BROTHERS studio (World Leaders Entertainment) heared about the layoffs in the morning. The Animagic team, many of them our friends, were having a lunchtime drink to ease the pain of the layoff, and the VB's staff decided to head on over and share hugs and toss back a few with them.
At first, I was happy I went; the Animagic staff was made up of a lot of young talent I knew at KATB*T. Terrific guys like Imario, and Mike Carlo. I stayed for a drink, but felt kind of empty quickly, because I remembered the feeling from just two years earlier--KATB*T was unceremoniously dumped this very same way. Just a lousey feeling.
I'm sad that so many people--those I liked, and those I don't even know---lost their job that day. That sucks.
I'm starting to get a bit frustrated with folks online blogging or responding to blogs about how criminally the production was run; how little vision the producers had; how talent was thwarted with jealous intent; and the questionable reputation of New York studios. Maybe hearing talk like that tires me out so much because I was around during Nickelodeon's reshuffling of REN AND STIMPY. For me, it smacks a little too much of heroic fantasy. It's so easy to blame the producers. It's so easy to blame the business people. To make them the bad guys. I dunno, I suppose if blame needs be placed, the producers would be the ones to point the finger at---in NATE'S case, it certainly sounds like that's so---but it also feels a little childish to me. Business people, on the whole, would much prefer a success to a failure, even if they're not sure how to generate that success, and run a production poorly. Nobody really wants to see people layed off; certainly not anyone at this lower level of the business food chain. And, sure, production rarely, very rarely ever understands artistic intent, because it's not necessarily a job requirement: it helps, but ultimately their job is to get a show on the air, good, bad or terrible, and to keep the costs down. We as artists, of course would like to see good work done, and to feel we contributed to something worthwhile. But in the end, when I hear artists speaking with what sounds like a sense of entitlement---as if productions fail because they're not listened to, or because a vision is not adhered to....fuck, this just strikes me as nonsense. Just my opinion. We in the mainstream animation industry create, but we create in a commercial arena. We create, essentially, so that Mattel can sell toys. It's nice when we're allowed to create something we're proud of. But again, that's not a commercial requirement, that's something, I think, that we project onto our productions. I believe we need to take immense pride in what we do, to utilize our craft to the best of our abilities. But I humbly believe, if you're trying to create the great American animation, you probably really need to do it on your own time, Rembrandt.
Close the gate on NATE THE GREAT's barn if you like, but the horse is already out. What's left, sadly, is that many talented people are out of work. Save your theories and anger; help find these people another job.