At the risk of being considered a grumpy old timer, I have a
need to air a few gripes from time to time. Plus, my sixty or so years in the
cartoon business has earned me the right to be critical on occasion. I'll say
upfront that I have no personal ax to grind. I've been treated extraordinarily
well during my years in animation and my personal complaints are few. Sadly,
this hasn't always been the case for my colleagues.
I've watched this same scenario played out dozens of times
during my career. A struggling young studio is working hard to make its mark
and talent is a serious need. The call goes out to all willing to be a part of
this team effort. Top talents are often reluctant to throw in their lot with an
unproven start-up and they pass on the invitation. Eventually, a rag-tag group
pulls together and creates the impossible. The little start-up attains eventual
success while the “outsiders” look on in amazement. That's the way it works in this
crazy business and I've been around long enough to see it happen more than
Of course, no one reaches the top by themselves. This is
especially true in the business of entertainment. Although there may be a few
arrogant enough to think this is possible. No, success comes from a team
pulling together to do the impossible. That includes a captain on the bridge as
well as a hard working crew “pulling the oars” down below. The team makes the
miracle happen and those who believe otherwise are clearly delusional.
Sadly, here's what often happens once the scrappy little
upstart has achieved success astounding their colleagues and competitors.
Clearly forgetting how they got there - the company brass begins to scrutinize
their staffers to see who might be expendable. Having clearly achieved success,
the once-unknown company could now attract top talent and they were more than
eager to do so. Management began to play their usual deceptive game by asking
employees who had worked with the company for several years to suddenly “bring
in a portfolio.” I remember one understandably upset artist having an answer
for a bone-headed executive. “My portfolio is up there on the screen!”
Of course, none of this is new for this animation veteran.
It's a game that will continue to be played out again and again. Back then
there was an advantage in getting in on the “ground floor.” Even if you failed
to excel in the company and climb the heights to becoming a producer or a
director, you would at least have been guaranteed a job based on your company
contribution. In the old days of the animation business we called it employee
loyalty. Sadly, it's an old fashioned notion that is clearly out of style
Copyright Focal Press, Taylor & Francis Group, anInforma Business. All rights reserved
Now jumping from an old fashioned notion to a brand new book: Floyd Norman's latest book, "Animated
Life: A lifetime of tips, tricks, techniques and stories from an Animation
" (Focal Press, April 2013) is now available for purchase.
And if you haven't yet gotten around to purchasing Mr.
Norman's original collection of cartoons and stories -- "Faster! Cheaper!
The Flip Side of the Art of Animation" - this paperback is still available
for sale over at John Cawley's Cataroo. And if you still haven't had your fill
of Floyd at this point, feel free to move on over to Mr. Fun's Blog. Which is where
Mr. Norman posts his musings when he's not writing for JHM.
I'm not in animation, but I've seen people who have worked in institutions, done a good to great job, only to be passed over for the outsider. I chalk it up to the "grass is greener" on the other side phenomenon, as well as the powers that be like showing who is really in charge. Of course, the higher-ups think that the success is due to their supervision, not the rank and file workers, or even mid-level folks.
My advice to those who get the boot would be to move and press on with the attitude that it wasn't you, personally, just that these things sort of happen randomly, and sometimes for small reasons. Of course, everybody can improve at what they do, maybe the "talent" brought in is better than you, but maybe not. A lot of institutions want to cultivate the idea that they get the best and brightest from every corner of the earth, and forgot about the folks that have been there a while, they're too inbred, can't think outside of the box.
And as with most books here, its not available on iTunes. Why don't people understand that some of us want books digitally nowadays? When I got my iPad, I said I'm not buying paper books again because I don't have room to store them anymore. If its not on iTunes, I'll sometimes look on the Nook or Kindle store, but I really like having all my books on one 'shelf' on my iPad. Please push these people to go digital when you talk with them! :)